The KLCC Brewfest was this past weekend, and I was quite bummed when they announced the winners and my name wasn't called at all. Kind of put a damper on the night. I got hopeful that maybe I took Second Place in the categories I entered. I rushed to the home brew shop on my break to get my score sheets to find that my Saison took 2nd in the Belgian and French Ale category. 2nd place out of 12 entries. I was very overwhelmed. Comments included: "Spicy hop aroma, nice golden color, big head, Brett flavor up front, spicy, great [mouthfeel], great beer, no major flaws, like the hint of Brett"; "distinctly tart, citrus fruit aromas with some 'funk' and peppery phenols, hint of Brett?, light straw in color, brilliant clarity, frothy lasting head, good fruity flavor, pear-lemon, with a gentle spiciness that finishes dry & refreshing, a hint of tartness and complexity, a great example of a Saison", and "spicy fruity, some hop, spice profile clean with sweet finish, very refreshing Farmhouse Ale." The criticisms all seemed to revolve around low hop and malt flavor and aroma, and a possible boost in fermentation temp. But all in all, very good.
And then comes the bitter-sweet moment. My other two beers (which I entered for fun) tanked. All three score sheets on my Brown Ale had very low scores and bad remarks: Brett! I had been concerned about a possible infection in a few of my beers that I had reused yeast on and had seen a small slick on top of the beer in the bottles. I had talked to others and had a few BJCP judges try two of the other beers and they said there is not Brett. But the remarks on my Brown were unanimous. One said that the Barrel quality is dominant on the beer, but I hadn't wood aged it. Another, Jamie Floyd, Brewmaster for Ninkasi, stated "Phenolic, Brettanomyces, cheesy hops... Brett flavor hides the nice caramel and chocolate... sweaty socks". The third judge, who owns the home brew shop I use and just opened a brew pub stated, "musty & cheesy... super foamy pour... horse blanket, old cheese, seems like a wild yeast infection... tightening up sanitation protocols would seem to be in order." 3 BJCP certified judges, all hit infection. If that doesn't take the wind out of your sails quick, I don't know what else would.
Live and learn. Trying hard not to let it tear away from the placing of the Saison, but it sure is hard.
EDIT: I took another bottle of the Brown into the shop today and had the same judge taste it again. Before he was able to pour it the foam was rising up through the neck, and after he poured 2 tasters worth, the space in the bottle filled with foam that overflowed the top. The body was very watery, and the taste was muddled and off as well. Looks like I definitely have a few things living in at least a few of these bottles. Brett on one. Pedio in another. Guess Broke Down Brown turned out to be the proper name after all.