Thanks for having a think on this especially as my OP was very muddy. Got rid of some of the stream of consciousness stuff in the OP. Your posts above have definitely helped me get a bit closer to what is bugging me (and also to remember that there is a bit more sense in the judging system than initially appears. More on that last bit at the end).
I think there are two different issues. Judging for judges and beer appreciation for the individual. The latter is much more important to us but let's work our way there....
1. The BJCP and other judging systems have had some of the best palates work on those systems and in the next section, we'll see that there is actually a lot of sense in the system (see below).
2. I think that the system they have might be okay for those who want to get fully trained into it and who are fortunate enough to get an excellent teacher. But I worry they are not that great for others wanting to learn about beer appreciation.
3. Existing different judging systems give different weights to different characteristics and, in fact, there is not even a standard agreement between countries on what beer styles are called and defined. (Typical of the brewing game. Look at malt names, Colour and IBU estimation formulas and definitions, grain spec descriptors etc etc.
A Bit More Work
1. If you look at the BJCP style guidelines or any other, they are often not that comprehensive, In fact, many style guidelines are very brief and very vague.
2. But then you get a nice bit of work like this Beer Scoresheet
***. (You'll see in that lumpy how many attributes are lumped 'underneath' the five main characteristics. This reminded me that the aroma thing actually makes some sense.)
Could lead to education for everyone...
Imagine that each style not only had far less vague descriptions but also links to excellent articles on that particular style? Imagine if each style had something like the score sheet above completed for each style? Some sort of sheet where you could visually see that such a style should have this trait (tick) but not another (cross)?
That would be pretty good. And that is what each of you have asked for above - a good way to learn about beer, describe it and know why you like it. It's what I have wanted for ages as well.
The right tools and right teacher...
I paid to do a BJCP course here about four years ago. I was really excited about it as a guy called John Jens (great guy and totally passionate), taught me about wine around twenty years ago. Two hours a week over six weeks and at the end, he gave us a wine and we all had to identify not only the variety but also the region and then part of that region the wine came from. From memory, I think nearly all of us got everything correct. It was an amazing experience.
So I roll up to the BJCP course and was really disappointed. Not only is a lot of the course studying to learn things by rote but you were not educated (lead forth) as John did to us. John would give is a wine and then not say, "What do you smell?" He would say, "Can you smell this?" That is a major difference when educating someone in this area, at least for someone like me who does not have a natural knack at it.
Look at the first thing on that BeerScoresheet - 'Grainy' under aroma. I still to this day have had no one say to me, "Smell this beer. It is really grainy." I actually need someone to lead me through each of those aspects, one by one."
I think you need a great teacher as beer really does not travel well in many situations. Most of the beers we had on that course (which I stopped about half-way through) were bloody awful. APA's that had been transported badly from America and therefore had no hop flavour or aroma left. Or perhaps a European lager, once again transported poorly, old and skunked.
Now none of us might get good access to a great teacher but I can't see any reason why the tools shouldn't be made easy for us. It just requires someone with the skill putting in the time and effort for us.
As to what to do in Section J of the BIABacus, I don't know but I better stop writing here and keep on with the other help. Thanks for the above and getting me focussed again. If you have any ideas of how Section J can be used to lead people in the right direction, please post away.
Never had that sheet in my course. Nothing like it at all.
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