ANST - Judging Brewing

dennis grace amazing at
Thu Aug 14 00:33:47 PDT 1997

Hi all. Aquilanne here.

Alexander Ravenshaw shares his enthusiasm at the topic of brewing with:
>Alrighty then.. I'm glad someone has finally mentioned something about
>judging brewing.

and expresses some concerns:
>I like the form provided, but, I have some problems with it...
>The simple fact is, that brewing and vinting can be a difficult catagory to
>judge. And, more often than not, such a detailed judging, like the one
>provided in the last post, is hard to do. Finding capable judges that can use
>such criteria is very rare. And some of the period technique, ingredients,
>are quite frankly, hazardous to your health. (*) Documentation is a real
>problem due to the fact that there is little or none in period.  But, it is
>hope of brewers such as myself and the other members of The Honorable
>Brotherhood of Brewers and Vinters to see more education and research on the
>subject. It has seemed as of late that it is needed. 

I understand the concern, but finding "capable" judges--meaning, I assume,
that these judges understand the intricacies of a specific art--is not
necessarily easy in many other categories. Many of us Laurel-types may
dabble our fingers in quite a few artistic pots, so to speak, but few (if
any) totally immerse ourselves in more than one area--at a time, anyway. I
still remember an A&S competition where I had entered a scroll which I had
used an orangy-vermillion color in the illumination, and a judge commenting
that "orange isn't a period color." Along the way, I'm sure I got some high
scores because the person looking at the work went "wow" without having
enough background and savvy about the artform I was working with to find my
mistakes. Outside of hiring professionals to do our judging for us (and even
the *professionals'* knowlege bases are not infallible), I think what we
should do is continue educating ourselves and encouraging our knowlegeable
folk to teach as many other folk as humanly possible. This is an educational
organization, and teaching is one of the most powerful learning tools we
have at our grasp, and the more folk who learn stuff make the more potential
resources, etc, etc.

>You can produce the most periodly correct (PC.. cute, I
>like that), using period technique, ingredients, have documentation to the
>hilt, and it can be perfect in every way.  But, if it doesn't taste good,
>it's a wasted effort.

Valid point. That's why many judging criteria/systems make the aesthetic
appeal of an entry an element of judging criteria. As well, some systems
(like the Aten one) have an authenticity/creativity section: if you use all
period methods and materials and have adequate documentation to back it up,
you get high scores for authenticity; if you use use non-period methods, but
can justify them in relation to how things were done in period (say, as
a)the only period analogs available, b)a *safe* method or material in the
place of the potentially unsafe period method or material, or c)maybe you
can't afford the period method/material, or are allergic to the period
material, d)having no way of really knowing what the period product tasted
like, and wanting to appeal to a modern palate, etc., etc.) then you get
high scores for creativity. There are other situations that would fit in
here, but I think you get the idea. 

>Now, I'm not saying that we should get rid of the detailed judging. The whole
>point of the SCA is period recreation. But sometimes, in areas like this need
>to have a taste-based judging.

Here again, this is one reason why the detailed criteria is needed: there's
no such thing as complete objectivity--especially when it comes to art. One
judge is going to be very partial to Elizabethan garb and find it difficult
to judge early Viking appropriately without criteria to guide her because it
doesn't hold the same aesthetic appeal for her; as well, one judge may be
partial to madrigals and may not be able to appropriately judge metered
rhyme without appropriate criteria to guide him because it doesn't hold the
same aesthetic appeal to him. *That's* why simple taste-based judging isn't
quite appropriate for something as structured as a Kingdom A&S Competition.

>I think when I hand someone one of my meads or
>ales, and that person smiles and wants more, I've done my job and I've won
>all the contests I need.

I know what you mean. All the high scores in the world don't measure up to
the look on a person's face when you hand over the completed scroll, leather
work, ceramic piece, metalwork (insert art of preference here). That's truly
the most joyous part of all.



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