And so starts the judging for the 2008 barleywine festival. Russ Wigglesworth has the honor of herding all of the judges and stewards into a never attainable timeline. Starting with 50+ barleywines for mostly the US in the first round, the second round of double blind judging will trim the list down to a more manageable 7-9 beers for the third and final judging.

Judges, by definition are judgemental. It’s what they are here for, and some take it very seriously. Thus is the case here as well. In the 8 years I’ve been a judge at the barleywine festival, I’ve run into all sorts of them. Some hate everything, some can only seem to taste one off taste or another, some declare they know exactly what each beer is. Most seem to be good judges though.

My round, 9 beers, just 2 worth passing, neither spectacular.

After the first round, the initial list of 55 beers is trimmed down to 26, 7 picked twice, final 11, 2 picked twice

After the second round, it’s down to a whopping 11 for the final judges to pick a first, second, and third.

Making it to the finals is a rather difficult journey for any beer. At minimum it means you had to get 2 groups of wildly ranging pallets to agree that it was worth passing on to the next round. To win requires that you then also get past the final table filled with some generally strong pallets, but even stronger personalities.

This year