I finally received my Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tasting exam results this morning after waiting patiently for eight months. After taking the online and tasting exams on very short notice and only studying for a few weeks, I managed to pass with a score of 65. It was like college all over again.
That score is high enough to earn the rank of Recognized. It is the lowest ranking for a beer judge, but I made it over the line. To move up to the rank of Certified I would need to gain three more experience points from judging competitions, and take the tasting exam again with a score of 70 or higher.
I would like to judge in more competitions and gain more experience. Sadly, after this weekend there are no more official competitions scheduled in New England for the rest of 2015 at this time. There were a few local competitions earlier this year that were scheduled on the same day. That doesn’t make it easy to rack up experience points.
I am happy to have passed an exam that people spend months and even years preparing for after cramming in such a short period of time. It was exactly 17 days from the time I passed the online exam until I took the tasting exam. In looking over the feedback from the exam proctors and looking at the scoresheets I filled out for the exam, I think some of my scores were too high. I gave a Dry Stout, which was Guinness Draught doctored with liquid butter, a score of 22 when it probably should have been much lower. Taking the test closed-book without having all of the styles memorized also showed in my scoresheets.
I studied for and took the exams to become a better brewer. Being a judge is the best way to learn how to critically taste a beer and diagnose any flaws or off-flavors. After studying for the exam it became perfectly clear why I was so disappointed in Andy & Juli’s Weddingfest. In that sense the entire experience was a success.
Since I took the exam in November the beers I have brewed have been better. I certainly am more aware of the pitfalls which can ruin a batch. The next step is continuing to brew and learn about ingredients first hand. I have become active again with the North Shore Brewers. Going to meetings and talking to other brewers is a great way to learn to brew better beer.
It is all onward and upward! Well, except for the fact I have three batches that need to be bottled soon.