If you’re enthusiastic about beer and homebrewing, becoming a certified beer judge is a valuable next step to expand your knowledge, appreciation, and brewing ability. The American Homebrewers Association’s Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) is designed to help aspiring judges develop the sensory awareness and knowledge of beer styles, history, and brewing science necessary to be effective judges (and better brewers).
Preparing for the BJCP exam requires quite of bit of study (and drinking), though. This summer, the women of H.O.P.S. (Homebrew Outreach and Participation Sisterhood, a sub-committee of DC Homebrewers) are conducting a BJCP study group. Although the group is already at capacity, we’d like to share our notes and beer lists with you so you can study along at home.
Even if you’re not sure you want to become a certified judge, it’s always fun to learn more about beer and homebrewing!
What You’re Getting Yourself Into
Jamie Langlie of Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP) and H.O.P.S., is coordinating the class curriculum and securing speakers. Over the course of 12 sessions, we’ll learn about particular technical topics and explore different beer styles. The technical speakers include award-winning homebrewers, experienced BJCP judges, and local brewing industry folks. Beer style discussions are led by class members.
The study-along content throughout the series is drawn from the presenters’ materials. If you use any of our content for another purpose, please respect our presenters and cite them as a source. Merci beaucoup.
- Session 1: An introduction to beer evaluation and the BJCP (a sampler of different distinct beer styles)
- Session 2: Malts (samples of ambers and dark lagers)
- Session 3: Water (samples of light lagers and ales)
- Session 4: Wort production/brewing procedures (samples of stouts and porters)
- Session 5: Hops (samples of bitters and pale ales)
- Session 6: Yeast and fermentation (samples of browns, Scottish and strong Scotch ales)
- Session 7: Mashing (samples of German ales, wheat beers, rye beers, smoked beers)
- Session 8: Troubleshooting (samples of barleywines, old ales, wood-aged beers)
- Session 9: Recipe formation (samples of strong Belgian beers)
- Session 10: Exam tips and “troubled” beer clinic (samples of sour Belgians, French ales, others)
- Session 11: New style categories, practice questions, etc. (samples TBD)
- Session 12: Review and practice exam (samples of homebrew)
What You’ll Need
“BJCP Study-Along” posts will occur every 2 weeks for 6 months (for your convenience, we’ll add hyperlinks to the schedule above as each session is posted). Here’s what you’ll need for the first session:
- BJCP Exam Study Guide
- BJCP Style Guidelines (and Gordon Strong’s presentation of upcoming style changes that will take effect over the next year)
- BJCP Scoresheet and a pencil (preferably mechanical)
- How to Judge Beer guide
- A few beers that represent a variety of beer styles, for example a pale ale, wheat beer, trippel, porter, etc.
- Some dedicated study/drinking buddies who can learn along with you
- [Optional] A BJCP Flavor Kit (although you won’t need this for the first session, you may want to order one now for use in future sessions)
A big thanks to Jamie Langlie and Sara Bondioli (H.O.P.S. chair and DC Homebrewers member) for organizing the study group. Thanks as well to all of the technical speakers who volunteered to talk with us and to National BJCP Judge Les White, president of the Free State Homebrew Guild (FSHG), for his support, including a BJCP overview and his beer sampling inventory list.