Monday, October 21, 2013

BJCP Tasting Exam

I have been rather quiet over the past couple months.  Partially due to the new house, but a lot due to my beer-based hobby time being devoted to studying for the BJCP Tasting Exam.  I knew fairly quickly after entering two different competitions in the summer of 2011 I would want to become a judge.  I received scoresheets back from the two competitions with a 29 and and a 38 for the same beer - a Scottish 70/-.  In the one competition I didn't place at all.  In the other, I received 2nd place Best of Show.  This is not the first time this injustice has happened to a homebrewer, and I am sure it won't be the last, but I knew I wanted to become a well-qualified judge and do my part to prevent this!

I looked at the BJCP exam schedule and found out the closest exams to me where held a few miles north in Frederick, MD.  In April of 2012 (10 months out), I contacted the exam organizers to get into the exam in February of was already full and I was placed into the 12th spot on the waitlist - Wow!  I knew you had to sign up early, but didn't realize it needed to be that early.  I was then informed another exam would be administered in September of 2013 - I signed up.

Fast-forward to this spring and the organizers contacted everyone and let them know of a tasting course they teach to prepare people for the exam.  The class was 12 weeks long, meeting for 2 hours once a week.  We went through all of the BJCP style guidelines trying a dozen or so beers at each meeting.  The teachers also graded sample scoresheets for us and halfway through the course we took a practice test.  We had a few "flaw" sessions which were critical as I came to learn that some of the descriptors for a certain off-flavor were not the tastes I would natural associate.  For example, DMS to me tastes like regular V8 tomato juice.

BJCP Entrance Exam Certificate
Entrance Exam Completion Certificate

As you can see above, I passed the new online entrance exam - required before you can take the tasting test.  I took the tasting exam the last Sunday in September and was pleased with how I think I did.  After the exams were handed in, the proctor told us the judges consensus scores and what beers we had.  I was only 5 points off the judges consensus scores at worst, and one of my beers was within a point and a half!  Being the nerd that I am, I looked up the scoring guidelines and it looks like my scoring should average around 16.8 points in the scoring accuracy part.  16-17 points on scoring accuracy is required for a "National" ranking.  I figured this will put me fairly close to the score of 80 which is what I am striving for as this score will make me eligible to take the written exam (after accruing the necessary judging points) and to try to become "Nationally" ranked.

Now I just have to wait for the exams to be graded.  This will take a couple of months as it is all volunteer based and a very time intensive process.  In the meantime, I can get back to brewing! 


  1. glad to finally see a new posting! Congrats on the exam and good luck on the taste portion.