Let’s say that I want to enter an amber ale into competition, but the recipe that I am working with is just a few points over the stated range for OG…is this a problem? Or what if the IBU’s are a little out of the range on an IPA but it really isn’t a double…how might the judges react to this? I am just curious if you have to fall right into the exact guidelines or not? Thanks for any words of wisdom.
I wouldn’t worry about it. You would be amazed at how well a beer will do that doesn’t exactly meet gravity guidelines. IME, they seem to not like you pushing the SRM for a style (even if it falls within the high end for the style guidelines), but an IPA that is a little out of range on the IBU’s does very well.
i think the trend now is that homebrewers are entering more beers that exceed many of the BJCP guidelines, scoring very well in their category. the 2008 guidelines should be updated to reflect these changes or at least to end some confusion on this matter.
It depends to a degree on the judges themselves; how well they’ve done their homework, and whether they have an appropriately objective view of the natural variances within so called ‘styles’.
In the end it should of course be more about the taste and the general appropriateness to the category in which a beer is entered , rather than specific numbers.
The mistake a lot of people seem to make is looking at the guidelines as some kind of rulebook, which they are not. I very much doubt that it’s creators would have been so presumptuous as to ever actually intend the guidelines to be viewed that way.
As a judge myself I can assure you I can’t tell what the OG or IBUs are to within a few points. I’d also say that as a rule beers on the bigger end of the style tend to be do better just because they’re more likely to be perceived as having more flavor/aroma. Although, balance is very important as well.
The style guidelines are ranges based on historical or commercial examples but the whole categorization system is a little arbitrary. It serves the purpose of creating a structure for the competitions which seem to have become quite popular.