Monday, February 28, 2011

BJCP Education

Early today, I downloaded and have been looking over the BJCP Beer Exam Study Guide. It's loaded full of great information including information about the BJCP exam, the BJCP point earning experience and schedule, the beer evaluation and judging process, etc. It even includes extreme detail on all the ingredients used in brewing as well as an outline of the entire brewing process.

Remember in my prevous post how I'd said I wanted my tasting notes to be more precise, consistent and accurate? Well, here is just a short list of some of the terms/tastes I'll be learning to eavluate as part of the BCJP program. This is an overview of the most important beer flavors and flavor flaws that BJCP judges will encounter when judging:

Has the taste/aroma of fresh cut green apples (also compared to grass, green leaves and even latex paint).

A spicy or vinous character in the aroma and taste - often accompanied by a warm or prickly mouthfeel.

Gives a mouth-puckering sensation, similar to chewing on grape skins or grape seeds.

'Excessive' bitterness (above desired) is usually perceived as a harsh, dry taste, and is uaually due to over-hopping a beer.

The 'fullness' or viscosity of the beer on the tongue/palate. Can range from watery to satiating or even thick. Body is a component of 'mouthfeel'.

Responsible for an artificial butter, butterscotch or toffee-like aroma and taste. Can also produce a 'slick' feel on the palate. Dicetyl is extremely difficult to percieve as a taster - and a significant number of tasters simply cannot taste dicetyl.

DMS (Dimethyl-sulfide):
Gives the aroma and taste of cooked vegetables (especially corn, celery, cabbage or parsnips). May be reminiscent of shellfish or water shrimp has been boiled in at extreme levels.

Remeniscent of banannas, strawberries, pears, apples, plums, papaya and/or other fruits.

With a flavor and aroma a freshly cut grass or green leaves.

Head Retention:
Head rentention is the measure of how well a beer holds it's head after being poured. It is measured in terms of the time it takes for the head to collapse to half of it's initial height (should be at least a minute in well-brewed beers).

With an aroma and/or taste of the flavor of spent grains.

The 'skunky' scent is due to the presence of the very same mercaptans that are found in the scent glands of skunks. You may have heard that light is the natual enemy of beer(?) Believe it. Light is what causes skunky beer.

Musty flavors or generally not desirable, but may be found in some cellared beer styles like Biere de Garde.

A papery/cardboard like flavor or aroma are never appropriate - can be a common flaw in many old commercial beers.

Has an aroma/taste often compared to Band-Aids (tm), medicine chst of disinfectant. Generally never desirable except for a clove-like, vanilla-like or smoky flavors in Bavarian wheat beers and some Belgian ales.

Like the aroma/taste of dry sherry, often accompanied by hazlenut or almond notes. One of the very few positive flavors attributed to oxidation.

An aroma/taste similar to turpentine or acetone - often accompanied by a burning sensation in the back of the mouth.

High levels of sour or acidic flavors can indicate an sanitation problem, but they are an important part of styles like lambics, Berliner Weiss styles and some Belgian White beers.

Not to be confused with DMS (See above), with the aroma and taste of rotten eggs, shrimp or rubber.

The appropriate level of sweetness in any beer is dependent on the style. Refer to BJCP Style Guidelines.

Having read over the basics of all of these flavors/flavor flaws, I see several I could have applied to the tastes I experienced at the Barleywine Bacchanal.
In fact, I'm heading back there tonight with my wife to try out a few more and enjoy a few vertical tastings they'll have on tonight (A 'Vertical tasting' is when a single beer is sampled over several, often consecutive, years of production). So if I'm feeling bold, I might try my hand at using a few of these terms to describe the barleywines I'll be trying out tonight.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there!

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