The latest trials, tribulations, and thoughts from the club you know and love.
  • 03/03/2014 2:12 PM | Frederick (Rick) Okamura

  • 02/08/2014 11:37 AM | Anonymous
    The Presidential Pint
    by Ted Assur

    It’s February 1st, and I’m riding the Amtrak back from Eugene drinking a Hop Valley “Double-D Blonde” with former Burgermeister, Josh Huerta who graciously joined me for the “ride the train with the president” event.

    I’ve just finished my 3rd beer competition judging in as many weeks. Sure, my wife has forgotten what I look like, and my kids are drawing pictures of “Papa + Beer = “HEART”

    But I love judging beer. And it’s not just for the days away, drinking free beer (of variable quality). I think there’s no better way to help other homebrewers improve, than to provide them with honest, blind feedback. Before joining the board, I would enter every competition I could find, just to have someone be honest with me (sorry mom!), and help me improve my brewing.

    Beer judges are in high demand.

    There’s no simpler way to put it. Many of you that responded to our member survey last year indicated you want to judge, but weren’t quite sure where to start. The simplest way is to contact a local competition coordinator and ask them! (see more in this month’s, “So you want to be a beer judge?” article). Or, if you want to hear about the more glamorous side of judging, check out Jason Barker’s article recounting the first-ever Best of Craft Beer Awards.

    In other news:

    • Be sure to check out our new “OBC Homebrewer’s Cup” and “Member of the Year” (previously Homebrewer of the Year award) updates. The 2013 board worked very hard to recalibrate these competitions for you.

    • I’m thrilled that the membership passed our scholarship and NHC subsidy votes this last month. Your board is continuing to look for ways we can directly and indirectly benefit the membership. Thank you for your support.

    • Personally, my focus right now is putting together our club’s entry
    in the
    AHA Radegast Club of the Year Award. To that end, we’ll have a small video crew at this month’s out meeting at Ecliptic Brewing.

    I hope you can join us.

    Josh is looking thirsty again. I’m glad the competition asked us to take a few of these beers for the ride. Cheers! 

  • 02/05/2014 12:30 PM | Anonymous
    So, you want to be a beer judge?
    by Ted Assur

    Ahhh, the beer judge. Sounds like the best job in the world: getting invited to drive around the land, tasting all the beer you can handle, and maybe getting a free meal (wait, free beer AND free food?).

    It’s not really that easy, but it can be very enjoyable. If you really want to up your game on beer appreciation and production, this is the way to do it.

    Getting started:
    I started judging after getting feedback from several beers I had entered at competitions. I had no idea what was involved, except my beers go into a room with a bunch of people, and out comes some papers with comments and numbers. I wanted to find out what it was all about.

    I first volunteered to judge at the 2011 OBC Fall Classic, with a fellow Novice judge (a term used by the Beer Judge Certification Program, aka BJCP, to indicate a non-certified, not necessarily inexperienced judge). Over the course of the event, I was paired with two different BJCP Certified judges from the OBC. I was quickly schooled on the basics of how to judge a beer:
    1. Know the style: beer can be made and entered to specific style expectations. There are style guidelines that judges compare the entry to. Read and understand the style guideline for the beer you’re judging. When you’re getting started, it may help to focus on beer styles you think you like (more on this later), than just judging any style: if you’re an IPA fiend, and hate or have never had sours, don’t judge sours. Do the IPAs.
    2. Evaluate the beer: compare what your senses are telling you to what the style guidelines say about the beer. If the guideline says it should be a “malt-forward style,” and you’re getting big, citrusy hop aromas and flavors, something is not in alignment here. For me, this is really the second-hardest part of the job: identifying specific sensory feedback, especially in complex beers, takes patience and practice. But, when you’re starting out, stick with the basics: listen to your senses, compare that to the style description.
    3. Describe the beer: We’re not just in it to taste it: the hardest part is converting these sensory stimuli into a vocabulary. When you first start out, you’re going to say you taste “sweet”, “bitter”, “flowery”. You’re going to say you smell “hoppy”, “malty”, “alcohol.” Through practice in working with other, experienced judges, you’ll get more and more specific in describing the character of these senses, and knowing what words to use in providing a description.
    4. Find and describe faults: This may seem harsh, but you’re not just judging the beer as a recipe, but how well it was done. Anyone can burn a Betty Crocker's Double Fudge Chocolate Cake. That doesn’t make it a bad cake mix. You’ll learn how to separate recipe flaws from production flaws. I think the easiest way, at the beginning, is to identify flavors or aromas that aren’t what most people consider beer taste and smells: buttered popcorn, canned corn, sweet sauerkraut, bologna, band-aids. Not what most people want in their beer. Oddly enough, though some of these might be acceptable in some styles!
    These four things are what all judges do. The degree and skill with which they do them varies, but the basics are the same.

    Take a class:
    After novice judging one time, I had the great opportunity to attend a BJCP class offered by local BJCP (now Master) Judge, Bill Schneller. This incredible survey of beer styles opened my mind to a world of beer like I’d never known. I thought I knew beer. I was wrong. I tasted and blind-judged styles I had categorically avoided, only to discover they were really interesting and often…delicious. I learned to appreciate a good example of a style, even if I didn’t care for it. If you want to judge beer and have never taken a style class, do it. Even if you don’t plan on pursuing certification, understanding the history, geography, recipe and production differences in beer styles will expand your beer appreciation immensely.

    If you’ve never judged a competition, and feel you’re really not qualified yet, but want to learn more, the best fit for you would be a competition steward. I won’t kid you: hands-down, these are the hardest working folks at a beer competition. They are the judges’ right hands in getting things done. They make sure judges have the right beer, and everything they need to properly judge. As a steward, you get to see everything about judging a beer, without putting a pencil to a scoresheet. Ideally, your table will share examples of great, and not-so-great entries. Often a buttery ‘dactyl bomb’ can be just as educational as a gloriously citrus and tropical hop-bomb.

    Filling a need - Getting Certified:
    The challenge for every competition organizer isn’t just getting enough judges. It’s getting enough certified judges. Every table needs at least one, and the ratio of judges to number-of-entries can be the difference between a smoothly run competition, and vicious slog.

    If you’re ready to try this route, the first step is take the entrance exam. It costs $10, and can be taken once a day until you pass it. Once you pass this, you are a “Provisional Judge” and can take the BJCP Beer Judging Exam. This is 6-beer, 90-minute practical tasting exam, and costs $40. In essence, it’s a closed-book judging. Pass this exam with 60% or better, and you’re a Recognized Beer Judge. Don’t, and you’re still an “Apprentice,” with a year to retake it.

    These are bare-bones essentials of becoming a BJCP judge, meant for a beginning audience: there are more details you can learn once you get into it (the points and ranking system, etc).

    If you’re looking for information I recommend Gordon Strong’s article, “So you want to be a beer judge?” It’s a great next step if you’re considering it, in spite of having been written ten years ago.

    Finally, the next opportunity to judge or steward locally is at Strange Brew’s 17th Annual Slurp & Burp, held next month. Register online to enter your beers, and also to judge or steward.
  • 02/05/2014 12:17 PM | Anonymous
    Judging the Best of Craft Beer Awards
    by Jason Barker

    It all started with me scanning the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) competition website
 in search of judging opportunities to get more points so I could reach the next judging rank of National. I see there is a new competition in Bend called the “Best of Craft Beer Awards” featuring only commercial beers, no homebrew. Hmmm, this sounds different and I‘ve been looking for an excuse to weekend in Bend with the wife so this was perfect timing.

    I contacted the event organizer to register as a judge and learned of a huge bonus, they were willing to put us up at the Inn at the Seventh Mountain Resort for 3 nights FOR FREE INCLUDING MEALS**… uhhhhh, ok I guess that’s a good deal, what, aren’t you going to fly us to Bend too?! The news of this offer spread quickly through the BJCP judges in Oregon.

    As I write this on Monday morning after the event, I have to say what a wonderful and generous experience this was. We judged for 2 days at the Seventh Mountain resort and had full access to all the facilities during our time off; think hot tubs, swimming pools, outdoor ice skating, outside fires and the stunning central Oregon scenery, all for the price of tasting beers and writing down what we think of them. Not a bad trade huh? It isn’t all fun and games, I mean its serious business when you’ve whittled down 13 American Amber Ale entries to just 3 and now you have to decide who’s getting the gold medal. Brows begin furrowing, attitudes degrade, lifelong friendships are dashed, and opinions flow like wine, errrr beer, while we judges argue as ferociously as Israel and Iran at a peace conference. But it must be done; people MUST KNOW WHO MAKES THE BEST AMBER ALE THIS WEEKEND! Then it’s back to reality and those friendships are rekindled over yet another beer except maybe this time it’s an English Barleywine.

    We had a chance to visit at length with old beer friends from around the state and to meet new ones from the Bend area. There were reps from several Oregon breweries and brewing related businesses that really enjoyed picking our brains about the process of becoming a BJCP beer judge and what it means to decide gold medal winners at such a competition. BJCP judges are in short supply, we are in demand!  I’ve been judging for about 3 years, and every single competition I’ve participated in has been short of BJCP judges. 

    Please consider becoming a BJCP judge. It doesn’t take a magical tongue of gold nor do you need to become a snooty beer snob. Just be willing to taste every style of beer imaginable and critique them objectively. Not every competition that we judge will comp you room and board, it’s rare in fact. But it shows that breweries need knowledgeable people to help them assess their beers, just like we as homebrewers do.

    The very first step to becoming a BJCP judge is to find a local competition and ask the organizer if you can judge as a novice. You will be paired up with an experienced BJCP judge who will walk you through the process live during the competition. There are many technical aspects to becoming a BJCP judge but don’t get overwhelmed, just be willing to judge a category of beers (American IPAs for example) objectively according to the BJCP guidelines. Don’t like super hoppy beers? Fine, you can generally pick the style of beer you’d prefer to judge in the beginning. Once you’ve judged as a novice a couple times you’ll decide whether to continue and take the next step towards certification, or maybe it’s just not for you. Either way, I promise you will learn a TON about beer, beer styles, beer making, and my favorite, making new beer friends.Enough for now, we have an appointment to tour Ale Apothecary Brewery this morning. Fun! 

    **”Meals” turned out to be such ho-hum entrees such as steamed lemon salmon, tri-tip beef, mushroom chicken, smoked salmon and trout, lamb, lobster brioche, sage rubbed game hen, duckling with baby greens, gruyere au gratin potatoes, wasabi ahi tuna, etc. Oh and there was a Good Life Brewing beer on tap at all meal times, you guessed it, for free. 

    Go here to learn about becoming a BJCP judge or just ask a board member!
  • 02/05/2014 12:03 PM | Anonymous
    A Word from the Burgermeister
    by Jason Barker

    A big thank you to those members that brought food to the January meeting. I love cooking and serving food to people, but with about 120 members to satisfy, I certainly appreciate the help you guys provided.

    For future meetings, I really don't think I'll be doing any real "themes" for food. Why? Because we want diversity. One overwhelming response we got from the member survey was that people wanted more food options at each meeting, especially vegetarian options.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the meeting reminder emails and I'll announce any special food requests I have for that week. Otherwise, I welcome you bringing whatever dishes you want to share. If you can, figure out a way to label your food item so people know what it is and who made it. Last meeting I provided white paper labels on which we just wrote "John's pasta salad-vegetarian" and "Jason's bean dip-spicy" for example. I received positive feedback from many members on this so let's continue. Also, remember to label your cookware so it doesn't get lost. I'll have some tape and a marker for this purpose if you forget.

    To prevent the likely scenario of 47 dishes of pasta salad showing up at the same meeting, I request that you throw me a quick email to let me know what you're bringing please so we can coordinate. Also, please send me feedback on any in-meeting food related info you think I need to know about. I welcome your input. This is your club and your dues that I'm spending so please make sure I'm on track with your expectations.

    The next in-meeting that we'll need food at is FH Steinbart's on Thursday, March 13th so be thinking about what interesting dish you want to make!  By popular demand I will be repeating the curry dip, bean dip, and hummus. My wife Lisa will be making her Mexican flan that is so smooth it's unbelievable! I'm still pondering the main dish, but word on the street is there will be Zenner's dogs in attendance too.  Lastly, if there is rice again this time, it won't be a sticky as speckling paste, I promise.
  • 02/02/2014 11:00 PM | Anonymous
    Here are a few competitions that YOU should know about:

    February 28, 2014, will be the deadline for the Washington Mead & Cider Cup. The last time this event was held (2012) it had 133 entries. If you make mead or cider, scoring a win here will get you significant bragging rights. Contact Laura Sullivan for more information.

    • Strange Brew's 17th Annual Slurp and Burp Open will be held on March 15, 2014, at 13 Virtues Brewing Co.  The deadline for entries is March 7, 2014.  Entries can be dropped off at most homebrew shops around Portland and beyond.  Check the Strange Brew website for entrant and judge registration or contact Paul Johnson, Competition Coordinator, for more information. 

    • The OBC's Style Competition Program returns this in March with Small Beers (any BJCP style that tops out at O.G. 1.040). Please bring your Small Beers to the OBC meeting on March 13, 2014.

    • COHO's Spring Fling Homebrew Competition will be held on May 10, 2014, at a location to be determined.  The deadline for entries is April 26, 2014 at most drop locations (including FH Steinbart Company).  Please check the competition website for more details on registration, judging location, and drop sites.

    • The OBC's 2nd Annual Heart of Cascadia Homebrew Competition will be held on May 17, 2014, at the Green Dragon. The deadline for entries is May 1, 2014. This competition is solely for Cascadia Dark Ales and Northwest Reds (judged according to unique style guidelines). Check here for more information.
  • 01/19/2014 11:02 PM | Anonymous
    January 2014
    In collaboration with the Seibel Institute of Technology, the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation is offering two full-tuition brewing education scholarships in 2014.  Both scholarship are full tuition grants and come with generous travel/lodging stipends.

    The first scholarship is to the World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology in Chicago in October 2014. The Concise Course in Brewing Technology is a two-week intensive program that covers every topic critical to successful brewery operations. The program is designed for brewers pursuing a wider knowledge of professional brewing standards and techniques in order to advance their brewing careers as well as individuals planning to enter the brewing industry. The Concise Course scholarship includes a $1,000 stipend to help offset travel and lodging expenses.

    The second scholarship is to the World Brewing Academy International Diploma Course running from September to November 2014 at Siebel’s Chicago and Munich campuses. The International Diploma course is a 12-week comprehensive course intended for brewers seeking an in-depth understanding of the technical aspects and practical application of brewing science and technology. The International Diploma Course scholarship includes a stipend of up to $5,000 to help offset travel and lodging expenses.

    Applicants must be from the states Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Alaska, and Hawaii. The Concise Course scholarship is open to individuals planning to enter the brewing industry and to brewers with no more than three years of brewery work experience.  The International Diploma Course is open to aspiring and professional brewers. 

    Note that the full application must be received no later than April 21, 2014.  Complete details and scholarship applications are available at

    The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for professional and aspiring craft brewers to further their knowledge and expertise.  The Falconer Foundation has granted 25 scholarships since 2004.  For more information on the Foundation please visit and follow us on Facebook.
  • 01/03/2014 12:00 AM | Anonymous
    The OBC board recently sent out a survey to all of the members seeking feedback and input on the club.  The board received about 70 responses and got a lot of great feedback on variety of issues. For those of you that responded to the survey, thank you for taking the time to provide your input. 

    A summary of a few key results from the survey is visible below, excerpted from the the OBC's January 2014 Newsletter.

  • 01/02/2014 11:53 PM | Anonymous
    At the January meeting, the OBC board will be seeking the membership’s approval on to out-of-budget spending items:

    1. $1000 towards reimbursing members’ attendance at the 2014 National Homebrewers’ Conference. $250 per person for up to four people. If less than four people go, the club would split the sum between the attendees to cover their actual costs. If more than four members attend, we would reimburse up to $250 for four attendees via a lottery system.

    2. $1000 towards reimbursing members’ expenses in brewing related education, incurred during 2014. Members that take courses (pre-approved by the board) would be reimbursed 50% of the cost of a course, up to a maximum of $200 per person, per course. Reimbursements would need to be pre-approved and are limited to available funds: first come, first served.
  • 01/02/2014 11:45 PM | Anonymous
    • The next general meeting for the Oregon Brew Crew is scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014, at F.H. Steinbart Co. at 7:00 pm. The education topic will be “Sampling and a discussion of winter ales.”

    • January is due-renewal time, membership dues are the same rate as last year. When you log into our website, annual members will see a “renewal due” message in the lower right-hand corner of the page. For new members, dues are not pro-rated: all memberships are up for renewal in January.

    FREE Bottles! Owen Lingley of Craft Canning and Bottling has generously donated 39 cases of 22oz bottles to the OBC. These bottles will be brought to the January meeting and are FREE to all members to take home. Please find a board member at the meeting if you have any questions.

    • As a reminder, general and board meeting minutes will be routinely posted on the Oregon Brew Crew Forums page. Please check the forums for the latest information.

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