Written by Ken Carman
Usually the first competition is the toughest. Last Spring, in Lexington, KY, they made it look easy. This December the Barley Mob Brewers in Chattanooga made it look easy, simple and smoother than real “mobster” operations: as smooth as some of the beers we judged. I emphasize “some.” Hey, it’s competition, and that’s what it’s all about: finding the delicious gems amongst the problematic or more blase’.
I first met the Barley Mob when they brought a big exhibit to our yearly competition in Nashville. But I did meet a few of their members when I took my BJCP test again in Knoxville this September; including Tony Giannasi who worked with the judges during the competition.
I think “work” might be a bit overboard when it comes to my fellow judges. Seemed smooth as a great ale slipping down a sample glass. I know. I’m sure there was a lot going on behind the scenes, but the less we know about it, the better we judge. And that’s the freedom we had last Saturday, the 12th, to judge and judge well.
There’s more to that “ease of judging story,” but more on that later.
Fugetaboutit 2009 was at Terminal Brewhouse, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
We arrive at 8am from Nashville, meaning we got up at 3am because we lost an hour on the way down. My wife, Millie, who you may be able to barely see at the judging table…
…had hurt her foot at camp in the Adirondacks a few weeks ago before we found out where we were going to be judging…
See the little window to the left at the top of the building and the long set of stairs that you get to see just a little bit of going up there?
Millie actually thought it helped her foot to climb up there.
The morning session started at 8:30 and I was amazed how professional it all was and how dedicated to beer even the non-BJCP judges were. I was the head of the table that morning and the non-BJCP judge I judged with almost begged me to lecture him on protocol. I dislike people who love to lecture others, so I just made a few suggestions and answered questions. A judge who lectures and pontificates a lot doth not help the atmosphere in my opinion, though I’m sure other BJCP judges may disagree.
We had lunch on the second floor. Millie ate the most of the pizza she had ordered and I ate more of the bison burger I ordered rare. Remember that. The pizza was good, the burger was better, but what waited for me wasn’t pleasant. Mid-the second session apparently my own foolishness in ordering rare combined with some medication in a way I wasn’t expecting and it got the best of me. I had to bow out half way through the second session: a nasty case of gastroenteritis.
This is how good they were. Other judges took up the slack without a single hitch. Meanwhile I was left embarrassed, but grateful I didn’t ruin the day.
We left as the awards were given and we even got Terminal glasses and won a computer-brewing program for my laptop during the raffle.
An excellent job by one and all and, I promise, you will see the next picture again. I enjoyed Terminal Brewhouse. I will return to do a review soon and hopefully interview the brewer.