Judging with Mind & Body: a Holistic Approach

Here’s an awesome idea: What if, after completing a judge sheet during a competition, the judges stood up, lifted their arms above their heads, and took five minutes to gauge the physiological effects of their beer? Some light calisthenics, a lap around the house, or a lightning game of rock-paper-scissors would probably suffice. Assessments of balance, logic, and physical fatigue could be taken, as well as insight into the more metaphysical effects of certain styles. For example: “Could only complete five squat-thrusts, but creamed the other judges using the all-scissors method.” Or, “This barleywine made me feel like a helium balloon tied to a millstone!”

This section could be linked with the enigmatic “intangibles” checkboxes at the bottom of the current scoresheet, with a range of points to be given for, say, balance: a scale of -2 to +2, -2 being “falling down,” 0 being “wobbly as normal,” and +2 being “walked the line.” Physical exertion could be particularly telling; if, after finishing a Pilsener the judge was winded after one lap, they might remark that “this beer is too exhausting; it would be unacceptable to have a couple during lunch break on a construction job. Best to enter this as a Baltic Porter.”

Mental games such as short math tests or memory puzzles would be perfect assessment tools, and language games, like tongue twisters or anagrams, would not only help the judges analyze the metaphysical aspects of a beer; it might improve the written portion of the scoresheet. For example:

A dearth of grain character and a bouquet redolent of northern Thai durian fruit, coupled with an amalgam of yeast notes that conjures images of torture by wet socks is a clear indicator that this is a  ___ beer.”

In this case the beer was bad enough to turn this working class judge into William Faulkner. Also, one should never make assumptions. Another example:

lst m vwls, srry, br sx.” [lost my vowels, sorry, beer sux [sic].]

Here we get a double dose: something must be horribly wrong for a beer to have a direct impact on the judge’s ability to write. In normal judging circumstances, this malady might not show itself until the subsequent beer has been served.

My suggestion has its obvious theoretical and practical holes; of course we have all had different levels of exposure to the limits of our own senses. Secondly, it treads dangerously close to the realm of categorically different substances, both legal and frowned upon. If this practice was adopted, there would have to be some sort of manifesto drawn up, extensive studies done to weigh points given against classified information on the judge; naturally there would be resistance to this radical method of judging process, and the BJCP test would become much more rigorous than it already is. Also, think of the competition organizers and stewards, who would spend their now extended engagements wrangling giddy judges. Judging would have to become self-officiated, and would inevitably fall into anarchy. Best we scrap this whole thing.

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