Beer Judge Certification Program
So, you’re looking to learn more about beer? Excellent! There are many avenues and resources out there to do so. If you’re end goal is a certification of some kind to prove you’re a bona fide beer geek, then the BJCP is an excellent route. How does this differ from the Cicerone Certification Program? Well, while both programs require extensive knowledge of beer, beer styles, and off flavors, CCP is more focused on the proper serving of beer, whereas BJCP is more focused on the proper brewing of beer and, you guessed it, judging beer. This requires an in-depth knowledge of brewing practices and techniques, brewing equipment, brewing chemistry and microbiology, brewing ingredients, thorough knowledge of the dozens of recognized BJCP styles, troubleshooting, excellent writing skills, and the ability to articulate this knowledge to homebrewers on a score sheet to provide meaningful feedback and suggestions for improvement - “It drank purdy gud” will not suffice.
Certification in this program will require passing two tests: on online entry exam covering beer basics, brewing practices, and the various BJCP styles, and a written tasting exam. “Passing” will be a total combined score from both tests of a 60-69, and will land you the rank of “Recognized Beer Judge.” A rank of “Certified Beer Judge” can be obtained with a total combined score of 70-79, and 5 judging experience points, earned by participating as a judge in homebrewing competitions. There are other, more prestigious ranks to pursue as you continue to further your knowledge and experience as a judge. Experienced homebrewers will have head-start in their knowledge, but anyone dedicated to learning more about beer and beer brewing can pass. Below is a list of resources to help you get started.
Websites and Forums
BJCP.org – Online home for the Beer Judge Certification Program
Thechemistryofbeer.com– Brewing chemistry blog UAB professor, BJCP Judge, and fellow Free the Hops Member, Tracy Hamilton.
Homebrewtalk.com – Anything and everything homebrewing
Spend time with your local homebrewing shop and homebrew clubs. Many clubs don’t mind if you aren’t a homebrewer, so long as you’re interested in learning more about the hobby. Organize or attend bottle shares with the focus of studying the classic style the beers represent. The BJCP style guidelines note commercial examples of the many different styles – start with those, if available. And, perhaps the most helpful, steward at a local homebrew competition! As a steward, you will assist and interact with judges directly during the competition, and gain firsthand experience with the process. Additionally, you will earn experience points with the BJCP while you learn!