wpid-img955961.jpgRemember how we told you a couple weeks ago that the Regular Guys would be taking their first foray into competitive brewing?

Well, the winners of that competition were announced last weekend.

Annnnnnnnnnd…………(this is where you should be hearing  a drum roll in your head)………..we didn’t win.

No medals for us.

But that’s okay. We’re not upset. Maybe slightly bummed, but just the teeniest bit.

wpid-hot-blonde-3-blog.jpg.jpegBefore I get into all that though, let me tell you a bit more about the beer that we entered. We submitted our Jalapeno Blonde Ale into two different categories – Light Hybrid Ales and Specialty Beers.

While we love this beer, and all our friends seem to love this beer, and all our family seem to love this beer, and all our family friends and friends of family friends seem to love this beer, we have become fully cognizant that that love and adoration doesn’t mean a whole lot. Those people all have some sort of personal investment in us, which slants them in our favor from the get go. They’re biased. And while their intentions are all good enough and their enjoyment is likely sincere, their inability to separate us from the beer they are drinking ultimately does us a disservice.

As such, we have come to the full realization that, going forward, we all need all the objective feedback that we can get.

One great way to do that is through brewing competitions. These judges don’t know us. They don’t even know our names. All they know is the sample of beer that is sitting in front of them. They will take a few sips, and record their impressions. They will write them down, and when the competition is over…they send them to us. Which is awesome. Given how important first impressions are for any business, particularly beer…this kind of descriptive feedback of their initial contact with our product is worth way more than the $7 entry fee.

On the downside though, these judges are placing a great deal of emphasis on how well our beer matches the particular style we are going for. They could absolutely love the brew as a whole, but if it doesn’t quite match up to the standards of the style in question, our scores will be negatively impacted. Such was the case with our entry into the Light Hybrid category.

Let me be upfront. Of all the batches of the Hot Blonde we have brewed, this particular one was probably the least blonde-ish. While we are pretty happy with the overall recipe, we have been making some tweaks from batch to batch to try to find the perfect blend of sweet and heat. This one…went a little too far towards the heat. It’s still good, but it could be dialed back a notch. I will also point out that this batch was a bit rushed. We decided to enter this beer into the competition just days after putting it into the fermenter. We had officially signed up and paid our fees, before it even went in the keg. We had to fill a few bottles a couple days earlier than we would have otherwise just so we had beers to turn in.

Had the timeline been flipped, and the beer would have been done and complete prior to registering for the competition, I probably would have skipped the light hybrid side of things. Because it hadn’t had time to fully age and settle, and because our first attempt at beer filtration was less stellar than what I would have liked, it was still cloudier than what a blonde ale should be. Because we pulled it from the keg a couple days early, it was a bit flatter than what a blonde should be. The samples tasted good, but it just wasn’t blonde enough to be considered a top-notch blonde.

judge-judyThe judges agreed. They rated us according to the beer that we presented and how it compared to the ideal blonde ale. We fell short and placed us in the “fair” category. Their scores and comments were nothing surprising. Too cloudy. Not bubbly enough. Too hot.

But we knew this. If anything, their comments felt a bit like validation that maybe we do know what we are talking about.

Beyond that, we actually found some of their comments to be very encouraging. One of the judges actually wrote that he “likes peppers and LIKES THIS BEER,” but suggested that it was just in the wrong category. Instead, he thought we should have entered it as a Specialty Beer.

Good advice sir! Thankfully, we did just that!

Over on the Specialty Beer side of things, the judges were much more forgiving. We did take a few hits for not doing enough to accentuate the base blonde ale style. These judges didn’t mind the cloudiness or the slight flatness. They seemed more interested in the overall flavor and experience of the beer and ours were good enough to earn ourselves a ranking as a “Very Good” beer.

Which ain’t too shabby for our first go around with a beer that we knew had a few flaws to start with.

But as far as we are concerned, “Very Good” isn’t good enough. We are going to take this feedback to heart. Make a few more tweaks, and make the Hot Blonde even better. Can’t wait to see how our little jalapeno ale will stack up after that!

competitorsIn the mean and between, we have plans to enter as many competitions as we can this year, with all our various brews. We will keep you updated on those as the year progresses. Looking forward to showing you our first medals.

That said, we are also aware that judging only tells so much of the story. Having a beer that matches a style is great, but in many ways is more academic than anything. Being the quintessential stout does not make you the most likable, drinkable or buy-able stout.

And given that a few of our favorite brews thus far, kind of blend style lines…our chances of winning big with these in a competitive arena are somewhat handicapped. We need to get more feedback from the average craft beer drinker. We need to know if the Regular Guys out there like our beer. If they would share our beer. If they would recommend our beer. If they would buy our beer.

As such, we are always looking for new friends and family (preferably ones who will shoot us straight) to share our beer with. So if you’re interested in giving us a hand with that…drop us a line!

We look forward to your assistance!