Beer Tasting: Claremonter Weisse (Me vs. BJCP)

berliner_weisseThis Berliner Weisse was my first award-winning brew! So, I wanted to do my own tasting to see how it compares with the judges’ assessment. It seems like an interesting exercise to calibrate my taste buds, and reflect on how my tasting skills are developing.

  • The Basics
    • Starting gravity = 1.032; final gravity = 1.010; abv = 2.9%; IBU = 5
  • Aroma
    • Low malt, mostly dominated by a tart pear aroma.
    • BJCP Judges
      • “slightly sweet, tart, honey, bready”
      • “Aroma is low lactic, low hop (grassy), lemon, dough (medium), grainy”
  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear and pale straw color, with a low white head that thins fairly quickly.
    • BJCP Judges
      • “pale golden, very clear”
      • “Pale yellow, brilliant clear, medium head with medium head retention and medium lacing. Head is white and creamy.”
  • Flavor
    • Pleasantly tart, with a gentle bready character at the back end.
    • BJCP Judges
      • “lemony, tart, wheat, buttery aftertaste, lemon zest, slight diacetyl, clean”
      • “Malt is fresh bread, dough, grainy, lemon tart, all in medium intensity. Nice and clean lactic soureness balanced by malt. Low bitterness. Finish is dry with lingering malt and lactic flavors.”
  • Mouthfeel
    • A fairly thin body and effervescent carbonation, with a dry and crisp finish.
    • BJCP Judges
      • “good mouthfeel, creamy, decent carbonation, could take more”
      • “Light body, medium-high carbonation, light astringency.”
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a very nice beer! I’ve noticed that some of the “barnyard” character from initial samplings has receded a bit with age and under cold storage, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can’t say that Berliner Weisse is a style I would always drink, but this has been a tasty experiment that bears repeating.
    • BJCP Judges Overall Impressions
      • “Great beer, could have more aroma, but it’s very pleasant; could lower acidity.”
      • “I enjoyed this beer! It’s highly drinkable, refreshing, still supported by nice malt and lactic sourness that balance with each other. Great example!”
  • Overall
    • 10/10
    • BJCP Judges
      • 39/50
      • 44/50

What Did I Learn?

It’s interesting to compare tastings by various people; on looking them over, I have a few immediate reactions.

First, the overall characters of our assessments overlap pretty broadly. The judges think it’s a good beer, and I think it’s a good beer. The overall style characters–tartness, etc.–are also on everyone’s palates.

For areas of difference, I suspect a few things are going on. First, I wasn’t tasting in the context of a BJCP competition, nor was I tasting in the midst of a flight. I also would bet my beer vocabulary is less developed–or developed in different ways–than the people who judged the entries. For instance, the differences between “doughy” and “bready” are still a bit mysterious to me. A lot of that is perception, of course, and maybe some of it is a bit of over-analysis. In any case, I can certainly do more to refine my vocabulary.

One thing that puzzles me is the judge who saw the entry as slightly undercarbonated–I would suspect that just is from where they saw it in the flight, or maybe pouring technique by whoever was pouring. It is comforting to know that the other judge saw it as well-carbonated, which matches my own perception.

This has been a worthwhile exercise all around. My tastebuds aren’t horribly out of alignment, I can do a little more to develop my vocabulary, and my first attempt at a sour was a success. Time to brew some more!

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