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Becoming Judgemental

As we’ve been writing these posts, we’ve had a few questions about what it takes to become a BJCP judge. It’s slightly more involved than just drinking a lot of beers and pretentiously rating them. In today’s post, we’ll give you some background on BJCP and share a little bit of our experiences with the program.

As we started getting more serious about opening a brewery, John began to investigate the best ways to become familiar with the different styles and flavor profiles of beer. He was looking for a tool to help him dial in the recipes for his homebrews.

Soon, he found the Beer Judge Certification Program.  The BJCP website states:

“The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to:

  • Encourage knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the world’s diverse beer, mead, and cider styles;
  • Promote, recognize, and advance beer, mead, and cider tasting, evaluation, and communication skills; and
  • Develop standardized tools, methods, and processes for the structured evaluation, ranking and feedback of beer, mead, and cider.”

A beer aficionado becomes a beer judge by taking an online entrance exam and then sitting for a beer tasting exam. The exam covers a wide range of topics including: technical aspects of brewing, brewing ingredients, processes and faults of brewing, world beer styles (including history, brewing styles, techniques, and ingredients), and judging procedures and ethics. The online portion of the test includes 180 questions and must be completed within one hour. After completing the online test, the candidate must then schedule a beer tasting exam- which includes a practical tasting exam of six beers.

After reading through all the requirements, we decided this was the right path, so John began studying. Sounds pretty amazing right? Drink a bunch of beers and rate them… this is homework that most people can get behind. The truth is, that while that part is very enjoyable, there are approximately a few billion different factors that go into judging each beer.  Beers are rated on: aroma, appearance, flavor, mouth-feel, and overall impression. A BJCP judge must correctly be able to identify and detect things from all these categories across all styles of beer.

John studied hard for several months, and his hard work paid off. He sat for the exam and is now a certified BJCP judge. John has judged several beer competitions in the Pacific Northwest. He was often called upon to judge homebrew competitions, and was also invited to judge the Washington Beer Awards (the largest commercial competition in Washington State).

If you have more questions about becoming BJCP certified or you’d like to talk to someone about it, feel free to send John an email. He’d love to help you out!