I am pleased to let you know that FOAM has scheduled a Beer Judge Certification Program (“BJCP”) Tasting Exam for Saturday, October 24, 2020 and we have developed a series of classes that will help you prepare to take that exam. This post will talk about the exam itself as well as the course curriculum, cost and location. It includes a link to a Google form for registration.
You may or may not be aware of the BJCP organization, but it has developed a comprehensive beer style guideline that is used by many in the beer world to help define beer styles. The BJCP Style Guidelines include 34 different beer categories (plus 2 mead and 2 cider categories), many of which are divided in subcategories. For example, did you know that there are 4 distinct types of “Standard American Beer” (Category 1) and 6 different types of “European Sour Ale” (Category 23)? (For the purposes of the tasting exam, only the first 26 categories of beer are included. Styles such as “Smoked Beer” and “Spiced Beer” are not included in the tasting exam.) You can find a downloadable copy of the guidelines here: https://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php You’ll see that there are also mobile versions of the guidelines.
If you have ever submitted a beer to a competition for judging, or judged as a non-certified judge in a competition, these BJCP guidelines were used to assess the entries against the standards for each type. If you ever want to brew a beer “to standard”, the BJCP Style Guidelines are a benchmark.
By certifying judges, the BJCP ensures that our beers are assessed properly and fairly in any competition, and as beer brewers, we know how each style is defined. Also, one of the key requirements for judging a beer in a competition is for the judge to provide positive feedback on how to improve any style or off-flavor deficiencies that might be present. Going through the process of becoming a certified (or higher) beer judge, you will develop an appreciation for many beer styles. I can say for a fact that I have improved my beer making process just by judging other beers, and gained a better understanding of styles and their attributes.
There are two steps in the process to become a certified judge. The first is to pass the BJCP online exam; then, get a passing grade on the tasting exam.
The online exam must be passed before you can take the tasting exam. It is an open book exam that requires you to answer 180 questions in 60 minutes. There are true and false questions as well as multiple choice. The questions cover style comparisons, brewing techniques and BJCP requirements. The exam is graded automatically after it is submitted. Scoring is pass/fail; no numerical score will be provided, although major areas with below passing proficiency will be identified in the examination summary. The cost of the online test is $10 for one test, or $20 for 3 tests. You can take one test a day (paying each time) until you pass. We will be covering the online test in one of our sessions, so please don’t miss this one! Upon passing the online exam, you will receive a certificate from the BJCP which must be presented at or before the tasting exam. The cost of the online exam is not included in the course fee.
During the tasting exam, you will taste and judge 6 different beers over a 90 minute period. You will not know the style of the beers prior to the exam, and you will not be able to refer to the BJCP style guidelines. Your judging sheets will be compared to the judging sheets prepared by two exam proctors who have attained either National or Master level status. All of these sheets are then sent to the BJCP for evaluation. A minimum score of 70% on the tasting exam is required to become a “certified” judge.
Leading up to the October 24 tasting exam, we have developed a course that will help prepare you for both the online exam and the tasting exam. These classes will be held on Sunday evenings between 6:00 and 9:00 pm. All classes will be conducted in Pippin’s Taproom located at High Gravity Brewing.
|Introduction to beer judging the BJCP way
|BJCP Categories 1-3 – Std American, Intl Lager, Czech Lager
|BJCP Categories 4-10 – European Lager, Other European
|BJCP Categories 11-17 – British, Scottish and Irish
|On-line exam preparation
|BJCP Categories 18-20 – American Ales
|BJCP Categories 21-22 – IPA and Strong American Ale
|BJCP Categories 24-26 – Belgian
|Off flavors and final exam preparation
In each session we will taste 2 to 4 beers, discuss the included styles and you will then judge one of the beers using a BJCP scoresheet. Each completed judging sheet will be evaluated by certified or higher judges. Most sessions will start with passing out the previous week’s judging sheets (if appropriate) and a discussion of those sheets.
It is rather important that you be a home brewer, or at least have a better-than-fundamental understanding of the brewing process. We will not be taking the time during class to discuss the basic home-brewing topics that are covered in the on-line exam. Without a fundamental knowledge of home brewing, it will be difficult to pass the on-line exam.
The cost for participation in the class is $60 per person, payable at your first class (cash or check made out to FOAM). This will be in addition to the cost of the online exam and a $15 fee for the tasting exam.
A maximum of 12 people can take the tasting exam on October 24. We will limit the number of people in the class to 18 to account for those who may not choose to take the tasting exam, but if there are more than 12 people at the end of the class who would like to take the exam, we will choose participants by lottery.
Please use this link to fill out a class registration : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7UFBTMwIRTtaV98VDP_2n1mSws-69bGqHuxBUcdm2ypLwtQ/viewform?usp=sf_link
If there are any open seats available at the tasting exam, we will be offering those first to FOAM members who wish to retake the tasting exam to improve their score. If you do this, do not have to retake the online exam, but you do have to pay the $15 exam fee. If there are still spots available after this, we will offer these to members of other Oklahoma home brewing clubs.
As of right now, we will be following CDC COVID-19 guidelines for groups of this size. We will use a venue that allows everyone to follow 6 foot social distancing if they choose. You will be asked to wear a mask when not drinking, and other times when social distancing cannot be followed. These requirements may change as time goes on.
“Judge Procedures Manual” – BJCP
“How to Pass the Online BJCP Entrance Exam” – Beer Syndicate (you will have to create a free account to access Beer Syndicate material)
“BJCP Entrance Exam Mock Practice Test” – Beer Syndicate
“Compare Beer Styles” – Beer Syndicate