Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:44 am

It's a Christmas Miracle, I passed the BJCP entrance exam. I am one step closer to being a certified tubby know it all! For those who have taken the tasting exam; how did you find the exam and what was preferred study method? I wasn't able get in on a formal study group so I plan on rereading "Brewing Classic Styles" and writing out score sheets for judged from the AHA.

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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:07 pm


Below is an email I sent out to the examinees in the last exam I administered a couple months ago:

Since you can't attend a class, I recommend you watch the videos and podcasts we have up on the WAHA (Washington Homebrewer's Association) web site. We have an entire series of classes up there, with a complete set of study materials and tasting lists so you can at least try to get ahold of the beers we taste so you can try to taste along. Mark Emiley, Peter Twigg, Brandon Horn, Tim Hayner organized these classes. I "guest lectured" on a couple of the videos and had a hand in producing the class materials. (I ran my own set of classes using these materials a couple times since we produced them).

See these links: ... -2011-exam

Tasting Exam tips-

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you take the tasting exam. (I write these coming from the standpoint of a grader)

Time is of the essence. You are given 6 beers to judge in 90 minutes. That equates to exactly 15 minutes per beer. Keep your wrist watch in front of you on the table in plain sight while you fill out the sheets, so you know exactly how much time you have left before the next beer will come out.

Skipping entire sections is costly. You MUST give the grader something to grade. Zeros for entire sections (or worse, entire beers) is a surefire road to failing the exam.

it is important to convey to the grader that you actually understand the style. Make sure to include a statement in your writing that notes the hallmarks of the style in question and how the sample does or does not achieve it. For example, banana and clove characters in a weizen, fruit and alcohol in Bock/Doppelbock/IIPA/Barleywine/Old Ale, etc.

Make sure you cover the contributions of all the primary ingredients -- Malt/Hops/Yeast/Water/Other on all sections. Even a Scottish 60/- has hop character -- low bitterness, very low or no flavor and aroma. Just because the style guidelines say that they are low, don't ignore these aspects, as the graders want to know SOMETHING about what you do and do not perceive.
This goes to COMPLETENESS. If its low or missing, say so.

Vague or non-vivid phrasing such as "Hoppy" or "Malty" or even "Roasty" isn't good enough to score well. (though even that is better than blank white space). Use vivid, specific, 3 part descriptors of the form [intensity, descriptor, character] -- e.g. "prominent citrusy hop flavor of tangerines and grapefruit" or "subtle strawberry & pear esters", or "intense roasty malt with noticeable espresso and cocoa notes".

Use the italicized instructions from each headin on the score sheets as reminders of things to comment upon. Remember that in the flavor, hops have both bittering and flavor aspects. Don't forget to mention both, especially if it is to say "mild clean hop bitterness with no discernible hop flavor".

The finish is important in terms of both flavor (bitterness/sweetness/hops/malt) and mouthfeel, particularly for alcohol and astringency.

Mouthfeel is about how the beer FEELS in your mouth, not what it tastes like. Astringency is a mouth feel, not a flavor.

Think about the beer you are judging and what aspects are important to it in the style guidelines. For example, if you are judging a Barleywine, alcohol level plays a huge part in the aroma (alcohol aroma - pleasant? solventy?), appearance (legs), flavor (alcohol flavor - pleasant/harsh/solventy/fusely - light/intense) and mouthfeel (heat). Don't forget to talk about something like that when it is part of the very essence of the style. Astringency may be appropriate to some degree in certain styles. Graders look for comments on subtle aspects such as these to differentiate good grades from great grades. This goes back to "know the styles".

Make your overall impression follow from the content of the other sections. Don't 'discover' new flaws in the overall impression section. The first mention belongs in the appropriate section (AAFM). Likewise, don't hammer the beer and give a low 20's score but tell him the beer is great in the feedback section, either. The score and comments should align and agree.

Judging beers is about comparing them to the style guidelines, not your personal preferences. Never word your feedback in a way that indicates some sort of personal preferences. "I would like to see more XYZ in an ABC" is an example of such language. A better way to phrase this would be "Better examples of the ABC style exhibit more XYZ character".

Don't forget to check off the check boxes for stylistic accuracy, technical merit, etc. (There is no requirement to circle or underline anything in the scoring notes box, though you should use it as a sanity check to make sure your score aligns with those aspects as they are listed there.)

You must provide suggestions to remedy any faults. These suggestions should focus in decreasing order of importance. For example, a horribly infected beer needs comments about sanitation, etc, not about adding sulfates to the water to increase hop presence.

Unless you are psychic, you cannot possibly know what a brewer's process/ingredients were, so don't guess on the exam either. Phrase your wording such that it accounts for that uncertainty.

Do not use ranges when they are inappropriate. For example, "light to medium brown color". Is it light, or is it medium? A single beer cannot exhibit a range like this. That said, there are things that may change over time. For example, "mild sulphury (match-like) aroma that diminishes as the beer sits". I find the best writeups will revisit volatile aromas and comment on how persistent they are over the course of the judging. Examples would include sulphur, diacetyl, and DMS as particularl examples that often show then dissipate.

Be respectful. Derogatory words like "Nasty" have no place on anyone's score sheet.

Fill up all of the white space but don't write so much that you have to go excessively into the margins. You are judging a beer like its a competition, not writing War and Peace. The best score sheets fill up all of the lines and may spill over a line or two into the white space, but that's about it.

Scoring - Newbies tend to both over-score good beers and under-score bad beers. A flawed beer is not automatically a 13, and a good beer is not automatically a 50. Keep your scores generally between about 18 and 40 and you'll be good. Even most of the commercial beers are given high 30's and low 40's in the Zymurgy articles.

Remember that an infected beer can be right on for all other character except for the sourness, so that boosts its score. Likewise, just because a beer has no flaws, if it "lacks" some of the intangibles, it's still not a 50. Also, reserve the 13's for those that are truly horrific and not just stylistically out of the style.

BJCP GM3 Judge & Mead
"Lunch Meat. It's an acquired taste....." -- Mylo
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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:57 pm

Thanks BDawg
Fermenting- Apricot Wheat Beer, Brett Beer, Ode Bruin
Lagering- NA
On Tap- Munich Helles, Dry Stout
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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:59 pm

Congratulations brotha! :pop
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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:46 pm

Way to go!
Looks like a pretty intense exam.
Then again, it is just drinking beer! :shock: :nutters:
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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:17 pm

Congrats brotha.......and GREAT write-up BDawg!!!!

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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:45 pm

Congrats! TKIA!! (TubbyKnowItAll)
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Re: Passed BJCP Entrance Exam

Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:52 pm

Hey! I want to give the LSATs next year and I was wondering if anyone here had an idea about the LSAT Test Dates. The exam preparations are good so far, except for the logic games part. It’s a bit difficult but not impossible. Happy New Year!
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