Like a good boy, I'm in the breakfast room well before 8. Spotting Gordon, I join him at his table.
"The bus is delayed until 9." is how he greets me.
Great. I could have had another 40 minutes in bed. At least I won't have to rush my food. The same as yesterday. Warm stuff then fruit. I quite quickly pick up habits. Usually bad ones.
9 o'clock comes and goes with no sign of a bus.It's more than 30 minutes more before we board. We're going to be behind before we even start.
Judging is at another hotel at a different resort. It's further away than I expected.
Perhaps I should explain what I'm doing here. I've been invited to be one of the judges for the Brasil Beer Cup, a competition for Brazilian beers. I accepted, despite Dolores's quite reasonable objections, because I really wanted to travel again. If I wait for everything to really get back to normal, how long will that be? Also, I really enjoyed Brazil the first time I visited.
Eventually I find my place. On a table right at the back.I sit down and pour myself a glass of water. It's well after ten and nothing is happening. This is a bit goring. I start flicking through the style guidelines the competition- - the ones from the Brewers' Association.
My god, these are out of date. Like the BJCP ones from 20 years ago. I'm tempted to start scribbling corrections to while away the time. But where to start?
Gordon and I discussed the new set of BJCP guidelines he's editing. Would I take a look at them? Of course. At just the right moment he comes over with a printed copy.Something to pass the time while we sit around aimlessly. I've no idea why we haven't started.
The BJCP styles have greatly improved over the last two editions. There's nothing much to raise my blood pressure. Just a few little things. But, as there are a fuck of a lot of styles nowadays, it does take me some time. That's totally ignoring all the American ones, about which I know little.
When noon comes, things finally get going. With an introduction where several people give speeches in Portuguese which are then repeated in English, not usually by the same person. Not a quick process.
It's well into the time scheduled for lunch when the first beers hit the table. At last we can get on with this.
As captain of my table, it's my job to keep things moving. There are supposed to be four of us on the table. But Eduardo has to leave before judging a single beer. That leaves me, Marina and Ludmilla, both Brazilians. The percentage of local judges is higher than at the other South American contests I've judged. The current COVID shit is probably the reason for that.
The first set is Vienna Lager. Nine beers. Six are about the colour of Pils. All but one has some sort of fault. That's disappointing. We're supposed to put three through to the next round. There's only one serving. But we have to put through three. It's the rules.
We have lunch with only a third of the beers scheduled for the morning judged. It's going to be a late one. Most of the other judges have already eaten, leaving the buffet rather sparse.
The next flights of beer are generally better. Though some are modern hoppy styles with lots of fruit flavours to mask any underlying nastiness.
I'm struggling a bit with the hardware and software of the tablet used to input our judgements. After some taking of the computer god's name in vain, I eventually sort of get the hang of it.
When the scheduled finish time of 6 PM rolls around, we've still several flights to finish. When we're finally done, it's long after 8. Then there's a wait for the last straggles to stumble over the finishing line. I'm totally knacked.
It must be at 9 PM when the bus drops us off where we'll be eating - Kairós Cervejaria. It's one of the breweries on the island. They're barbecuing outside. To be honest, I'm feeling past eating. So go up into the brewery for liquid sustenance.
In the form of Sol Poente, a West Coast IPA. Pleasantly fruity, is how I'd describe it. And a refreshing 7% ABV.
I'm tempted into eating one of the fat sausages. It's fat in both senses of the word. I suspect it's one of the Blumenau sausages I've heard about. Not sure how healthy it is. Tastes good, mind.
A minibus takes back the exhausted amongst the judges. Including me. While the more hardy examples wait for the big bus. I've only had one and a half beers. That's how tired I am.
A slug of Bowmore gives me the final push down the hill to slumber. Have to be up early again tomorrow.
Estr. Cristóvão Machado de Campos,
2741 - Vargem Grande,
Florianópolis - SC,
The organisers of the Brasil Beer Cup paid for my accommodation and food during the period of judging (four nights and three days) Beer, too, which was provided by one of the sponsors. I had to pay for my own cocktails. And all other expenses, such as flights and extra hotel nights.