King of the mountain homebrew competition

KOTM Homebrew Competition Results

Back in May, I submitted five beers to the King Of The Mountain (KOTM) Homebrew competition.  I just got the results back tonight.  I mentioned last time that I had problems with carbonation levels.  With this competition those have been fixed as there was no mention of ‘weak carbonation’ – thank you counter-pressure filler.

Generally the way homebrew competitions are scored is that there are two judges that judge each beer.  Depending on how many entries there are, beer categories may be lumped together.  For example, in this competition, Belgians can be lumped with Saisons and light lagers can be lumped with Octoberfests.  I prefer to have my Saison judged with other Saisons – not with Belgians.  I don’t necessarily agree with this but I understand as it depends on the number of entries and judges.

I would also like to state that beer judging, in my opinion, can be highly subjective and the important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what they score, it’s ok.  Focus on the generalities and what the two judges scored in common with each other.

Let’s get this straight though, few brewers are going to let the consumers know how their beer got judged at a competition.  But since I’m an honorable guy, I will give you the real skinny:

California Common

This was my lager that for many brews was similar to Samuel Adams -clean and lightly hopped.  Since I switched to high-temp pressure fermentations, I wanted a lager yeast that was good at higher temperatures.  This beer was exactly the same but with a different yeast.  This yeast totally changed the profile of the beer.  You all loved this beer.  In retrospect, this yeast change gave it a flavor that is ‘distinctive.’  Distinct and yummy are a great combination.

This beer actually advanced to the Best of Show round.  It scored two 37 out of 50’s.  (Between very good and excellent)..I don’t know the scores of the winners.

Great example, just a little full for the style…

Nice fruit upfront.  Pleasant malt body with a smooth mouthfeel that leads to a soft, lingering bitterness…

I’ll take it!


Now this was my first ever Saison.  I brewed it as I wanted a ‘spring’ beer.  Personally this was more outside of my ‘go to’ drinking beer.  It surprised me how all of you preferred it and got growler-after-growler of it.

This received a 29 out of 50 – the very topside of good and I will take the liberty to round it to the low side of very good.

Nice drinking beer.  Just a little out of balance between the fruitiness, malt and spices.  Fruitiness is low and tartness (spices) is high.

Good overall finish, slightly out of style.

The fruitiness was probably ‘low’ due to the unique pressure fermentation I do that generally ‘suppresses’ fruity off flavors – in this style it is desired though.  Doesn’t matter, you all loved it and that’s what counts.  Ross mentioned that this was possibly his favorite Saison if memory serves.


Another spring beer.  This again was the first bock I have ever made….but I loved it and wish I had more…much more.  Many of you did too.  Eric mentioned that it ‘took me back to my trip to Germany.’

This beer scored a 29.5 out of 50…’very good.’

Sweet malt flavor balanced with firm bitterness…kinda over malty, over hopped beer that overbalances the malty characteristics…no diacetal (undesired butterscotch off flavor)

Good beer with flaws, would watch fermentation temps…decent malt flavors with fruity esters and diacetal.

Interesting results from judging.  One detects the off flavor (diacetal), the other doesn’t.  Yes, the fermentation was high temp, high pressure.  He/she’s a good judge to pick that up.  To me, there was no diacetal.  I WILL NOT CHANGE A THING.  I did mash this beer (initially heating the grains) different than any other styles I make to try to keep it more classy.


This is one of the beers that has an extensive history and has been brewed many times, every-time with subtle variations.  This is another of my ‘go to’ beers that has an interesting ‘fruity’ taste.  You can’t find a lot of ‘ambers’ at the store and I think I was the only ‘amber’ to be judged.

This beer received a 23.5 out of 50 = good.  Note that this beer is judged against pale ales and brown ales.  Of course judges will subconsciously favor the pale ales.

Fruity sweet nose…nice reddish amber…low to no hop flavor…

Deep amber with ruby highlights…strong black aroma (charred BBQ sauce)…brown sugar…raspberry seems to dominate the flavor with light citrus hops and toasty malt in background…

Rasberry.  I knew this beer had a  ‘fruitiness’ to it…not a bad fruitiness, but a good one.  This judge is good.  They go on to say that this ‘misses the style’.  Style schmile.  Yes, it is not a Killians Red…but I think something a whole lot better and something I will keep making for you.

American IPA

Now I should have probably entered this into the ‘rye’ beer style – I know the IPA’s were going to be a big group.  This was my first IPA and the first time I used rye – which is all-the-rage currently (dry, crisp finish).

20.5 our of 50 = good.  I knew it would be about this.

Be much more generous with hop aroma…nice clarity…

Body is thin…hops are light…no aroma or flavor present…

Ouch.  I knew it would be like this and I was afraid to enter this beer.  In the fermentor this had a powerful grapefruit aroma  and flavor that Eric and John were able to taste from the whole Citra hops.  John and I filtered this one with a new plate filter…the difference pre and post filtration, which was course (rough), were huge.  I need to barely filter IPA’s – if at all to retain hop flavor and aroma…or use more hops upfront and then filter.

All-in-all, I received some good feedback from this competition which confirmed most of my thoughts on these beers.  Some beers I may tweak, but most I am happy with, and I know you are too.   I do have to keep working on the IPA (or RyePA).

Sure, I would love to win but I am not necessarily going for beers that are ‘stylistically strict’…I am going for drinkability.  When it comes to beer, you can’t please everyone – it’s too subjective…though I will keep trying.   It’s kinda like your favorite color.  There is no reason it’s your favorite color, it just is.




One thought on “KOTM Homebrew Competition Results”

  1. Ron,
    Well done especially to make the decision and enter!! Sounds like your biers made it above many and you received some nice discernment of the complexities.
    I love your saison!
    Look forward to trying more

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