This contents of this page are copyright 1997 by Jay S. Hersh and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's express written consent. Dr. Beer ® is a registered trademark of Jay S. Hersh.
The Dr. Beer ® sensory evaluation seminars began about a decade ago shortly after I joined the Beer Judge Certification Program (aka BJCP). At the time I was living in Troy, NY and had founded a homebrew club in the Albany/Troy area. I was training people in the club in judging beer so that we could host a local homebrew competition in the region. I contacted the AHA who kindly provided me with a reprint of an article by Charlie Papazian with some basic information on how to doctor beers for sensory evaluation training and what substances one might use.
Some of these substances were laboratory chemicals. Having little skill at the time with handling such chemicals I turned to a professor in the RPI chemistry department named Charles (?) Pfau. Professor Pfau kindly agreed to assist me and a small local training session was performed. The members of the club wished to take the BJCP test and so a test was arranged with the help of Pat Baker and Charlie Olchowski in 1988. Several members of the Boston Wort Processors registered for the test, so for their benefit and the benefit of local Albany test takers who had not attended the previous sensory evaluation seminar another one was scheduled immediately prior to the BJCP test.
The following year I moved to Boston and joined the Wort Processors. The Worts were a pretty active club and several of their members had background in organic chemistry and laboratory procedures. One in particular was Steve Stroud. Since many of the club members were already in the BJCP or interested in joining there was immediate interest in my performing another Dr. Beer® sensory evaluation seminar. No longer having the assistance of Professor Pfau I turned to Steve for access to the necessary chemicals and equipment for setting this up.
The seminars were successful and Steve and I, in 1990 were subsequently invited to perform these seminars for a wider audience, namely individuals attending the annual homebrew contest held in Westport, Massachusetts and sponsored by Crosby and Baker the homebrew supply wholesaler. People from throughout the Northeast began taking these seminars in association with this large annual homebrew competition.
As I became more comfortable with the necessary equipment and procedures, I gradually began setting up and leading these seminars on my own since Steve was often busy with work and personal commitments. Eventually thanks to the generosity of Steve and other Wort Processor members like Sherri Alameda and Mike Sharp I acquired a stock of the necessary chemicals and equipment for putting these seminars together on my own.
In 1992 I was invited by the AHA to hold a Dr. Beer® sensory evaluation training seminar as part of their annual homebrewers conference. This seminar was held in Milwaukee and was attended by over 100 people. Basically it was sold to capacity of the room. The seminar was a terrific success especially due to the efforts of my good friend George Fix (whom you may recognize as the author of Principles of Brewing Science) who helped distribute the doctored samples and field questions from the large audience.
Since that time the seminar has continued to be held here in New England for an ever widening audience. The seminar has been presented to brewery workers associations, brewery sales staff, commercial and amateur brewers, and of course prospective beer judges.
From the outset I have made my doctoring guidelines publicly available on the Internet and more recently via World Wide Web in an effort to promote sensory evaluation training, especially for those taking the BJCP test, but also for anyone who wishes to be knowledgeable in the art and science of beer. I now know of several others performing similar seminars using my initial guidelines and/or those they have developed themselves. To those who have undertaken such similar efforts I extend my gratitude and encouragement. To those just getting started good luck and please feel free to contact me with questions and especially feedback so that these guidelines can continue to be improved.
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