Becoming a Beer Judge

This is a guide for homebrewers looking to become NEW judges. If you've already taken ANY sort of BJCP test, this will likely not apply to you. There are a lot of nuances, so please check out for complete details from the horse's mouth. At the birds eye view, there are three components to BJCP credentialing:

  1. Online Exam

  2. Tasting Exam

  3. Level Up

To achieve a rank of Recognized Beer Judge you’ll need to complete steps 1 and 2 so we will focus most of our effort there.

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 - I'd even say 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:

  1. BJCP Study Guide (64 pages)

  2. BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines (78 pages)

WOW ONLY 142 PAGES YOU SAY!?!?!?!? I'LL GET RIGHT ON 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: Joining our BJCP Training class is a great way to do this - we drink beer while reading the Style Guidelines and talk about it. Familiarity with styles is the core of the exam. Pro tip you can do this by yourself but it works better in a group since other people will taste things you don't. Memorizing the 78 page 2015 Style Guide also works if you enjoy pain. This podcast is also great: Brewing With Style.

  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.

Final Thoughts:

  • 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 ($25).

  • A key piece of the stylistic portion is comparison. ie 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.

Ready to take the test? Click here now!

Step 2 - Tasting Exam

aka the exam where you drink 6 beers - Passing (60%+) gives you an official BJCP rank of Recognized and 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 at one location in the WORLD each Saturday. Complete list of upcoming exams. If you decide to take an exam, you MUST contact the proctor ahead of time. Bring your Certificate from 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 Master 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 such as our Colonial Cup will get you points even before you earn your BJCP rank and ID.