BJCP Class #2 – A Proper Scoresheet & Style 2: Pilsner
If I thought I felt overwhelmed after the first class, I now have the feeling that it’s only going to get exponentially more overwhelming before it starts becoming more approachable. I really appreciate that the class offers both a technical topic as well as a focus on each individual beer style in order, but just knowing that there’s going to be even more information to deluge my goldfish memory (beer probably doesn’t help this…), is actually frightening. I’m filling almost 90% of the time in my day right now, whether it’s working, preparing myself for the day, going jogging (more on this later, because it’s important to me right now), scheduling house tours, or scrounging for food. I somehow managed to royally screw up my daily schedule by staying out until 2am this past weekend (YOLO?), and getting myself back on track has been hellish, to say the least. So Sunday is going to be my reboot. I’m going to wake up at 6am whether I like it or not – and I won’t – and I’m going to rearrange my timeline for the day and hope it sticks throughout the week.
Remember when I was complaining about how I have no time to do anything fun for myself? Or clean my house? Well, priorities are priorities, and I’ll probably be reassigning them forever, but for now I have beer education, work, and exercise. And eating, but that’s been knocked down the list in the interest of health. I’m still eating, just practicing more portion control. Ok, this is boring, but I have been inspired to go jogging thanks to my super healthy husband (you’ll never take my chicken and pancetta!!), and for the last three days, I’ve managed to hold my own with a 5 mile track along one of the canals here in Arizona. I shoot for 1 hour and right now I’m managing a solid 13-minute mile. Honestly, I could care less about how fast I get done with the 5 miles, I just need to say I really enjoy being outside for the hour before sunset and that I feel like I can justify my lifestyle better as I get my health back. My goal is 150 miles in a month, so I can’t really skip a day, but I like a challenge. Hence why I’m diving headfirst with my eyes closed (I’m only peeking a little) into this BJCP education.
So as not to stray too far from the general theme of this little blog, class #2 was full of Pilsners! We actually sampled a few brews that I couldn’t photograph the logos of because they were in growlers, but you’re on a computer, I don’t need to tell you what to do.
Style 2A – German Pilsner (Pils). For the example, we sampled Warsteiner Premium Verum. My notes:
- Aroma – some sulfur, faint graininess, sweet Pils malt, spicy floral noble hops, fairly clean and crisp
- Appearance – Straw yellow, very pale and brilliantly clear, persistent white head
- Flavor – crisp, dry finish, moderate maltiness, slightly grainy, clean
- Mouthfeel – medium-light body, medium-high carbonation with a bit of a carbonic bite
Style 2B – Bohemian Pilsener. For the example, we sampled Pilsner Urquell. Quick fact: Pilsner Urquell was the original pilsner, having been brewed since 1842 in Bohemia (great article here).
- Aroma – rich, complex malt, faint doughy/biscuity sweetness, light buttery notes (diacetyl)
- Appearance – brilliant yellow/pale gold, dense creamy head
- Flavor – rounded bitterness and spizy saaz flavor amongst complex malts, though bitterness doesn’t linger, balanced malt and hop aftertaste
- Mouthfeel – medium bodied, medium carbonation, minimal to no affect from initial diacetyl detection
Style 2C – Classic American Pilsner. For the example, we sampled New Belgium Blue Paddle. Apparently there are no classic examples in the “Classic” American Pilsner category, but we were given Blue Paddle as an option for review. And learning. Also, many lighter beers can be brewed with adjucts (unless Reinheitsgebot is in effect). Corn gives beer a distinct grainy sweetness, and rice creates a crisper, more neutral character.
- Aroma – light grainy sweetness with very faint maltiness, moderate hop aroma, no diacetyl, somewhat fruity
- Appearance – clear yellow, light gold, bright clarity
- Flavor – moderate maltiness with little intensity (due to adjuncts), clean, medium bitterness, no coarse or harsh aftertaste
- Mouthfeel – medium body, rich creamy mouthfeel, medium carbonation
We also learned more about filling out a scoresheet and were given good examples (completely filled out, using the adjectives along the side to note what is and is not present, descriptive ability, reasons for score, etc) and bad examples (blank spaces, few words, no details given, no suggestions, etc). We were given a beer to judge that we all thought was another homebrew, like last time, but which turned out to be Left Hand’s Polestar Pilsner. I did a much better job filling out the scoresheet this time around, though I did need to reference the BJCP app a few times, and I conferred with some of my neighbors. Not knowing what I was judging, as is the norm in all judging situations, here are the notes I took and the score I gave for Polestar:
- Aroma – light grainy pils malt character, faint but clean flowery noble hops, no fruity esters, no diacetyl, no sulfur, crisp and dry on the nose (9/12)
- Appearance – clear straw yellow, creamy long-lasting white head, active carbonation, brilliant clarity (3/3)
- Flavor – initial crisp bitterness, medium-dry finish, moderate maltiness with some grainy characteristics, hop bitterness lingers into aftertaste, but doesn’t take away from the cleanliness of the beer, no fruity esters, no diacetyl, no DMS (17/20)
- Mouthfeel – medium body, medium carbonation, smooth and creamy with very light astringency at the end, not slick or watery, somewhat creamy as it warms, no alcohol heat (4/5)
- Overall Impressions – very nice example, lingering hop bitterness was appropriate for style, pleasant overall, aroma, appearance, and mouthfeel were satisfying (8/10)
- Total Score – 41/50
Once we discussed everyone’s scores in class, we were handed a sheet with scores that it was given by master judges from the Zymurgy publication. I’m happy to report that I managed to fit my score of 41/50 snugly between a few 43/50s and a 40/50. Being that judging is so temperamental depending on everyone’s individual palates, and that the goal is to score a beer within 7 points of the average score, I’m on a good track right now.