Friday 5 November 2021

More judging

Against my better judgement, I'm down early for breakfast. I join Gordon again. And the same egg/sausage fruit combo. Pretty dull, aren't I?

We're asked to head for he bus before 9 AM. But we don't board immediately, leaving time for some idle chatter. Like what the hell is that weird fruit hanging from the tree next to the bus? It looks like a 1930s football.

Not even any of the Brazilians knows. One does think that it's inedible. That's the best we get.

Things get rolling around the scheduled time. I'm delighted to find that I'm on Gordon's table. Not just for the chat. He's lots of experience a this sort of thing and will keep things moving along at a good pace. His table was the first to finish yesterday.

He's worked out a far better scheme than I did. It makes the process much quicker.

A word about judging, for those who've never judged. It's much less fun than it sounds. Mostly.

You'll get to drink some bad beer. If you're unlucky, some very bad beer. It's not necessarily the brewers fault. The transit may have been long and complicated, the beer spoiling somewhere en route.

An upside are he other judges. You get to discuss beer all day with fellow nerds. That can be great fun.

Some judges can have very expressive faces while judging. Looking like they just gulped down battery acid liked with cyanide. I admit I'm a member  of that club. I almost spat out a particularly disgusting beer once.

People can also be a downside. Argumentative, opinionated, pedantic and stubborn are the character traits you're looking to avoid around the table. I'm guilty of at least three of those. Or maybe five (I forgot arrogant.)

The mechanics of judging vary according to the competition. The general method is mostly the same. First you kick out all the ones with obvious faults. Oxidation, DMS, diacetyl. Then the ones crazily out of style ones, no mater how good the beer. 

An English Dark Mild laced with bucket loads of he latest trendy high-alpha hops, aged for two years in Islay barrels with Brettanomyces and bottled with champagne yeast isn't going to get very far. However yummy it might be.

Gordon has worked his magic again. We're done withe the morning flights well before the scheduled time for lunch.

Today it's in the rooftop restaurant. With a view of the sea. Very scenic.

Getting first crack at the buffet, I've more options. I plump for all three food groups: beef, pork and chicken. Light on the carbs, mind. Just a small portion of one sort.

[I should, perhaps, have snapped the delightful view rather than my beige food.]

Having a little time before judging recommences, I pop to the supermarket over the road. I want to check out their cachaca selection Just for the kids, you know.

It's rather disappointing, the selection. They only have the cheap one in the weird 931 ml bottle. I get a bottle in case of emergency. An emergency like finishing off the Bowmore too quickly.


On the way to the checkout, I spot a display of glasses. Perfect! Now I can drink like a gentleman I nicked a flimsy plastic cup from the coffee corner yesterday. But it split and I almost got Bowmore all over my laptop.

We start awarding medals in the afternoon. Not much controversy and we're done well before the scheduled close of 6 PM.

A minibus shuttles some of us early finishers back to the other hotel. So early, I have a while to unwind in my room.

When I go downstairs I find Gordon propping up the bar with a couple of other judges, drinking cocktails.

"That's a great idea. I haven''t had a caipirinha yet."

So that's what I order. Makes a change from beer.

There's a barbecue at the end of the hotel garden. Right next to the beach. It's windy. Very windy. Scarily windy, with the trees shaking around frighteningly. It's not making the work of the cooks easy.

I eat a few skewers of meat and one of cheese. Big lumps of this white stuff. No idea what type it was. Grilled well.

People keep bringing me bottles of the Black Princess Gold. It's OK when chilled enough. Not exactly my sort of beer. But it's fee and I can't be arsed to hunt down the Bock.

Unwisely, someone asks me about oak flavour in 19th-century IPA An hour later I take my first breath.

I don't make it a late one. Not when I need to be up early. Too old for that shit.

A gentleman Bowmore gently rubs my temples and soothes me to sleep

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