Monday, February 28, 2011

Gearing Up To Go For My BJCP Certification

I recently attended the Barleywine Bacchanal at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. In my post discussing this event, I provided some basic tasting notes for the various barleywines I tried at the festival. As I was composing that post and reading over my tasting notes, I realized that my observations about each barleywine were only superficial. Basic smells, malty or hoppy, clean finish or aftertaste, etc.

While those were worthwhile notes, I've been longing for a way to make my tasting descriptions more precise, more consistent, and more accurate. Both for my own benefit and for the benefit of you, my readers - so that you'll have a better idea of what types of beers you read about here that you might enjoy for yourself.

I've known about the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) for quite a while now but, for some reason, I've never pursued getting my certification. Well, I've decided it's time to do just that. Becoming certified is a long road and does not end with your initial certification. There are various levels of judging excellence (rankings) you can achieve.

Your rank is determined by your exam score(s) combined with your experience points:

-At least a 'passing' score on the exam and at least 5 experience points nets you the rank: "Recognized".

-A score of at least 70 on the exam and at least 5 experience points nets you the rank: "Certified".

-A score of at least 80 on the exam and at least 20 experience points nets you the rank: "National".

BJCP Judges can achieve "Master" status with a score of at least 90 on the exam and at least 40 experience points.

I'll go it on my own, but I'd prefer to find a few friends to take the journey with me. The BJCP flavor kits - which can help you learn the various desired and 'off' flavors in beers is not very expensive, but they do provide enough flavors for 20-30 beer drinkers! Wow.

(If any of my readers are interested in pursuing the BJCP Certification with me and you live in the Seattle/South Sound area, please contact me at

Once certified, BJCP Certified judges can sign up/apply to be a judge at a wide variety of beer competitions. Some big advantages of this include being among the first to taste many new beers (as the judges usually get first shot at most judged competitions and festivals), as well as the ability to provide other beer afficianados with precise scores and descriptions, to assist them in making their choices from the large number of beers usually available at most competitions and festivals.

The first step in my journey will begin with renewing my membership in the American Homebrewer's Association. I was a member for several years, but I've allowed my membership to lapse and it's time to get active again. Wish me luck!

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there!

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