I am ecstatic, but most of all in shock. I knew I had performed solidly on my test, but didn't think I had did this well. As you can see from my RTP (Report to Participants) I scored at the National level for all categories and was on the cusp of scoring at a master level for completeness. If you are not familiar with the BJCP Tasting Exam, you are graded on your ability to describe the following five categories when tasting six different beer styles:
- Perceptive Accuracy - Did you note the primary characteristics of the beer? Were there characteristics you made in error or omissions?
- Descriptive Abilitiy - Were you able to correctly identify "What Kind" and "How much of" each characteristic of the beer?
- Feedback - Did you provide the brewer with appropriate and detailed feedback on how to improve this beer based on the flaws or imperfections you perceived?
- Completeness - Did you touch on all the different components of the scoresheet in detail?
- Scoring Accuracy - How far away was your score from the proctorsconsensus score?
Test BeersThe following beers were judged, followed by the proctors consensus score, my score, and any thoughts regarding the beer.
- Octoberfest | 35 (proctors) | 30 (me) - This was one of my worst judge beers compared to the proctors. I picked up some musty character in the aroma and some alcohol warmth that the proctors did not. My feedback was deemed to be vague and not as helpful as it could have been. This beer ended up being Sam Adams Octoberfest and given the time the test was taken, end of September, it should have been pretty fresh!
- American Wheat | 23.5 (proctors) | 21 (me) - I picked up a strong acetaldehyde character in this beer and I was 100% sure of it. The week prior to the test we had done a flaws kit and I got this off flavor very strongly, unfortunately the proctors did not and it hurt my score a bit. Other than this I did a solid job on this score sheet and being within 1.5 points of the proctors got a Master level on scoring accuracy.
- American Pale Ale | 25 (proctors) | 20 (me) - I identified some spicy alcohol notes in the aroma and a sherry-like oxidation which the proctors did not, which is probably why I scored this lower than they did. The graders felt I did a good job addressing all the different aspects of this beer. As I recall this beer really lacked american hop character which is fairly important in the style.
- Brown Porter | 33.5 (proctors) | 30 (me) - Overall, I did a solid job on this beer. I missed mentioning the lack of roast malt at all and was given feeback that I should I have stated it needed more. Additionally, I found the fruity esters of this beer to be more prevalent than the proctors.
- Saison | 38 (proctors) | 35 (me) - On this beer I score a Master level on everything but feedback! I perceived the body to be more full than the proctors. I remember this being a solid beer.
- Imperial IPA | 38.5 (proctors) | 37 (me) - This was a great beer. It was a commercial beer, however, I forget the brewery. I was off on a few items from the proctors, but overall they agreed it was solid.
What I learnedOn last page of the RTP the graders provide additional commentary. They noted I may be perceiving creaminess in mouthfeel differently than most people as I differed from the judges on almost all of the beers scored. The only disappointing part of these results was getting dinged for picking up the acetaldehyde character in one of the beers. A week before the exam, in the tasting class, we had done a flaws session and I was picking up this off flavor and it was fresh in my mind. It was unfortunate the judges did not pick up on this. All things even out though cause I have a very high threshold before I sense diacetyl, so I could have been dinged if we had a butter bomb on the test.
I think to improve my skills I really just need to judge. I find a lot of people perceive things differently and judging with others is one of the best ways to fine-tune your pallet and hone your judging skills.