Club Connection is a blog written by various members of homebrew clubs with the intention of sharing ideas, inspiring home clubs, and forming connections between homebrew clubs worldwide.
More BJCP Judges in Clubs
The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) can be intimidating. Hopefully this will demystify the process and inspire you to push BJCP certification in your club. Of course, the more BJCP judges a club has, the more critical feedback members of the club have at their disposal — a benefit to every member of the club.
First steps for club officers:
1. Identify a Tasting Exam Administrator - this person must be BJCP National or higher-ranked Judge. Have them read the Administrator’s Guide.
2. Register a Tasting Exam so folks have a hard deadline to work towards. April 2018 is soonest available at the moment, so register early!
3. Promote a BJCP class, aiming for about 12 people. 6 is the minimum needed to give an exam, 12 is the max.
4. Support your BJCP class logistically. Use club resources to plan and communicate about the class. Use club funds to get an off flavor kit.
More on your BJCP Class:
Familiarity with styles is the core of the exams, so have your Exam Administrator or other experienced judge(s) run the class. Folks can study by reading and tasting alone but learn better in a group since different people taste differently. Group discussion and tasting is the most powerful tool to engaging with beer critically. A small group setting also helps people open up their vocabulary. Consider using other resources as well - Brewing Network’s Brewing With Style covers each BJCP style in good detail. Use the podcast as a resource to fill in gaps or assign as homework!
Now that you’ve got prospective judges interested and engaged, use the 3 Step guide below to educate them about the process and prepare them for the exams. New judges should be primarily focused on Steps 1 and 2.
STEP 1 - ONLINE EXAM
aka the Entrance Exam - 180 questions in 60 minutes - PASS/FAIL - taken a max of once daily - once you PASS you are Provisional Rank and have 1 year to complete Step 2 - click here to make an account and add the exam to your cart
The online exam is a combination of true/false, multiple choice, and multiple choice multiple answer. No partial credit for MCMA. The exam is surprisingly hard - even deceiving at times. Pass or fail, you will be told at the end which 'sections' you failed. THIS IS HUGE if you fail so you know what to study more for the next time. Literally every answer on the exam can be found in the following 2 documents:
• BJCP Study Guide (64 pages)
• BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines (78 pages)
WOW ONLY 142 PAGES YOU SAY!? I'll get right no that. Not. What's the best way to get through all that material?
DIVIDE AND CONQUER THE CONTENT:
1. Ace the Gimmie Questions: Read all 124 BJCP related T/F questions listed in the Study Guide pages 18-24; this is the exact pool of questions used on the exam
2. Familiarize with 2015 Styles: Join your club’s BJCP Training class - drink beer while reading the Style Guidelines and talk about it! Memorizing the 78 page 2015 Style Guide also works if you enjoy pain.
3. Ingredients and Brewing Process and Flavors: If you brew a lot and/or read a lot of homebrew books, this area may come easiest. There are a whole slew of flavors and off flavors and you should know where they come from. BJCP Study Guide pages 38-64.
• The test is implicitly open book. MARK the ones you aren't sure on and look up the answers at the end with your remaining time. ALL THE ANSWERS ARE IN THE 2 DOCUMENTS ABOVE!
• Don't be afraid to take the test. The worst that can happen is you spend $10, fail, and get told the sections you need to study more. If you think this is a likely path for you, get the 3 pack ($20).
• A key piece of the stylistic portion is comparison. i.e. how are International Pale Lager and Pale Czech Lager the same? How are they different? The 2015 Style Guide has special sections for stylistic comparison but these will not cover all questions explicitly. Be prepared to think outside the box to compare styles both marginally and vastly different. Focus on their key flavors and ingredients.
STEP 2 - TASTING EXAM
aka the exam where you drink 6 beers - Passing (60%+) gives you an official BJCP rank of Recognized and a BJCP ID#
The exam is simple - fill out 6 BJCP scoresheets. You will be graded on how well you did based on areas such as: detail, thoroughness, off flavor identification, and stylistic enforcement. Everything is taken into account, so don't forget to put your name at the top! Passing this exam (60%+) will cost you $40 and earn you a rank of Recognized. If you fail, no sweat, you are ranked Apprentice and required to retake the Tasting exam within two years (retakes are only $15).
Tasting Exams are offered around the WORLD each Saturday. Hopefully your club has one registered - if not, you can check the complete list of upcoming exams. If you decide to take an exam somewhere else, you MUST contact the proctor ahead of time. There is no guarantee they have open slots and capacity is capped at 12. Bring your Certificate from the Online Exam (Step 1) to verify your eligibility for the Tasting Exam.
STEP 3 - MOVE UP IN RANK
To move up in Rank you will need to take the Written Exam, given quarterly (upcoming exams - search for quarterly). Your score on Written and Tasting exams will give you a composite score, the table below shows the requirements for each rank. Keep in mind, testing to 80% does not instantly make you a National level judge. The testing simply 'unlocks' those levels. To level up, you must gain experience points. Fret not, experience points are retroactive! Participating in competitions will earn you points even before you earn your BJCP rank and ID.