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Brewing for competition

Hey folks. I need some advice as to when I should start brewing certain styles for competition. I would like to enter ~ 15 brews in next years Bluebonnet (March). I want to start now but I’m not sure which styles to start with. I know that some of the hoppy brews such APA’s and IPA’s need to be brewed with a couple months of the competition. I mostly brew quick turnaround beers so any thing outside a couple of months will be new to me.
Any advice will be appreciated - Thanks!!!

Timing beers for comps takes a little planning, good that you’re starting now. If you’re kegging, it’s a little easier to force a batch or two through quickly right at the end. And if you’re thinking about competing with hoppy beers, you really need to keg those - it’s certainly possible to medal with a bottled IPA, but you have to really pay attention to the schedule and over-hop to compensate for the time spent carbing in the bottle.

In general, work backwards from the date that you will be sending off your bottles and build a time-line for each beer. So for a bottled IPA you would need a week of post-carbonation cold storage, 2-3 weeks for carbonation, 1-2 weeks dry-hopping, plus two weeks for fermentation for a total of around seven weeks.

I would also agree with what shadtree has told you. Track your beers and know when they are at their peak.

Thanks Shade and Boulder. I didn’t realize that it’s best to keg the IPA. I’ll keep that in mind.

Now is time for Barley wine/Old Ale, Tripel, Belgian Strong Dark, Imperial Stout, and Ice Bock. You should have brewed your sour ales except Berliner Weiss last year for this year. The advice above is excellent.

Keep in mind that you can have great beers and still not place at the Blue Bonnet. It is such a big competition. It takes them 3 weeks to get through all the beer so something may be great week one and going down hill during second round 2-3 weeks later. It is a lot of fun though. I have not been there for several years, but I try to enter when I think I have something ready. Good luck.

I’m definitely interested in the Belgian Dark Strong and the RIS. I’ve brewed the Belgian Dark before but I’ll need to research the RIS.

I went to the Bluebonnet this year and had a blast. I did enter a few beers and felt the feedback was decent. What I enjoyed the most was being around so many homebrewers. I don’t have too high of hopes in placing. For right now I just want to be in the game if that makes since. I hope the feedback from the judges will be good enough to help me improve and just maybe I’ll place in a few years.

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