The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to:
The BJCP was founded in 1985 and has administered the Beer Judge Examination to 9,585 individuals worldwide. 5,431 are currently active judges in the program, with 789 holding the rank of National or higher. Since we started keeping detailed records, our members have judged over 1,159,647 beers and we have sanctioned over 7,191 competitions.
For the current year, 150 exams have been registered. Exams have been given to 287 examinees. Organizers have registered 415 competitions. More detailed statistics can be found in the Database Reports section of the website.
Regional elections have concluded in the Northeast, North, and Mountain/Northwest regions. The winning candidates are Scott Bickham, Brian Joas, and Ryan Thomas. See our election center for the full results.
2015 Online Entrance Exam is Live
Exam Director Scott Bickham just announced that the online entrance exam (at bjcp.coursewebs.com) has been updated to cover the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines (don't worry, you can still test against the 2008 Guidelines for the rest of this year), and also provided a new status update on the revision process discussed last month:
The English version BJCP entrance exam is now available in versions based on the 2008 and 2015 Style Guidelines. The Spanish and Portuguese versions will follow in a few months after the volunteers who are translating the style guidelines can turn their attention to the 3400 questions that feed into each 200 question exam. The exam based on the 2008 guidelines will be available until the end of the year, after which all Beer Judging exams will be based on the 2015 Style Guidelines.
The new questions were written to better closely match the style descriptions, and the grammar and punctuation errors were cleaned up to improve the readability and to make them easier to translated into other languages. A number of problem questions with either incorrect or ambiguous answers were either corrected or removed, so this should provide additional incentives to take the 2015 version of the BJCP Entrance exam. As noted in the previous update, questions on three historical styles (Roggenbier, London Brown Ale and Pre-Prohibition Lager) were removed, but new questions were added on styles in the European Sour Beer Category. The styles tested on the exam come from Categories 1-26; however there are currently no questions on the Specialty IPA since these styles have not yet proliferated to some parts of the US let alone our international judging community. We will add questions on these styles at some point, but will post a message on our website communicating the date when the new questions will be integrated into the exam.
Cider Exam Status Update
Cider Exam team lead Bruce Buerger provided this recent status update on progress towards the cider exam.
Happy Birthday to Us!
The BJCP celebrated its 30th birthday as an organization on May 31. We have records of over a million beers being judged during this time.
New Style Guidelines Released
The long-awaited 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines are now complete, and have been released for use. There are now separate documents for Beer, Mead, and Cider styles, which allows them to be updated in the future on different schedules. The documents are currently available in PDF and Word formats from the Style Center. The 2008 guidelines are still available for use.
BJCP exams will begin to use the 2015 guidelines on exams given in November 2015. More information will be posted as it is available. Tests prior to 1 November 2015 will be based on the 2008 guidelines.
BJCP-sanctioned competitions may use either set of guidelines. Check with individual competition organizers for specific rules. The BJCP expects that by the end of 2015, all competitions will use the 2015 guidelines.
Note that most style-related documents and information posted refers to the 2008 guidelines. As additional formats and translations are available, we will note that in the Style Center.
Competition Handbook Update
A small but important update has been made to the Competition Handbook to clarify guidance for Best of Show rounds. Winners should not be selected based on comparing scores from different flights; the beers must be directly compared by a single panel of judges to select a winner. The same holds true for selecting category winners.
Change in Sensory Kits
There will be a major change with sensory kit orders placed on or after April 1, 2015. We are discontinuing purchase of the 24 vial comprehensive kit and will now only offer a 12 vial basic kit. Two main factors have led to this change. One, we received feedback that many of the vials in the Siebel comprehensive kit are going unused due to the obscure nature of the characteristic. The second is that Siebel has changed their vendor and is now allowing custom kits to be built. After much discussion, we have determined that a basic 12 vial custom kit is our best choice at this time for both exam prep classes and member training. The new custom kit will consist of the following:
- Ethyl Acetate
- Ethyl Hexanoate
When determining which characteristics to offer, we intentionally excluded those that can be easily reproduced at home. The CEP team will develop a flyer containing guidelines to supplement the Siebel kit that talks about what other faults class leaders should include in sensory training, and how to properly doctor those samples. This will be done prior to the new kits being shipped.
A more advanced 12 vial kit may be developed at a later time if demand and budget permit.
The cost of the new style kit will remain the same, $50 for exam kits and $100 for member kits. Shipping costs have increased due to an international vendor, and keeping the member cost the same will allow more members to purchase kits before the budget cap is reached each year.
Anyone wishing to purchase the comprehensive kit may still do so but will need to place that order directly with Siebel. The BJCP will no longer subsidize this kit or be involved in the ordering process.
Questions regarding this new kit can be directed to the CEP Team.
Updates to Judge Portal and Exam Workflow
Since the NHC we've been hard at work to make some improvements to our services, and are now happy to announce their availability.
- We have updated the Judge Record application to display your judge certificate and your membership card. Both have been redesigned to use our latest logos and color schemes. Your membership card now also shows when you joined the program, and you can print any judge certificate you have earned, not just your latest rank.
- We have revised the name badge to use the new color scheme, to display any mead certification earned, and to have alternative attachment options (traditional clip, magnetic bar, plain card, or plain card with a lanyard).
- We have increased the automation of our exam processing workflow, and now are capturing the PDFs of your original exam and the RTPs produced by the graders. These files are also available on your judge record. We have loaded past RTPs back to 2010 into the system as well. Scanned exams are still being organized and will be uploaded later.
- We have implemented a new short form RTP for exams that have checkboxes for common problems and a free-format summary section. This should allow graders to complete the grading faster, and make the exams easier to review.
- Because we now have all these materials available through our self-service portal, we will stop mailing physical copies of RTPs, judge certificates, and membership cards. Pins and color guides will still be mailed. The self-service materials will be available much faster than the physical mailings; as soon as the results are uploaded to the server, email notices will be generated to examinees, and the data will be available.
We are continuing to work on projects to improve the portal experience, to automate workflows, to reduce service times, and to refresh our materials. We are reorganizing and expanding content for our new web site, and hope to launch it later this year.
Exam Structure Document Updated
The Exam Structure document has been revised now that the new exam program has fully phased in. The document describes the requirements for different ranks, and how one progresses through the exam system. The major points are that the Apprentice rank is time-limited, and that those failing to progress to Recognized or above will be reclassified from Active status to Affiliated status. Affiliated judges have to start over in the exam program to become active, but keep their BJCP ID and past experience points.
New Siebel Kit Pricing Structure
Due to an unprecedented demand for Siebel off-flavor kits driven by both a growth in the number of exams and in the demand for kits by members, a new pricing structure for kits has been adopted as of 22 April 2014. The subsidized price of kits for members has been raised from US$80 to US$100. Kits for registered exam preparation classes are no longer free; the new price is US$50. The amount budgeted for the entire year was consumed by the end of March, so immediate action was required. Future price adjustments may be necessary depending on demand. The number of exams given has doubled since 2010 when the exam kits were introduced.
Subsequently, the board voted to increase 2014 funding for subsidized Siebel kits by US$10,000 from program reserves.
Written Exam Fee Raised
Acting upon a recommendation from the Exam Directors, the board voted to raise fees for the Written Proficiency Exam from US$15 to US$25. This coincides with the rollout of a new Quarterly Written Exam that will allow multiple, geographically-dispersed sites to give written exams at the same time, and then combine them for grading purposes. The intent is to allow more written exams to be given without requiring a minimum number of examinees per site; this also frees up more slots for tasting exams on the exam calendar.
BJCP Logo Merchandise Available Again
The BJCP excited to announce a new merchandise vendor for embroidered BJCP logo shirts. Rebel Brewer is now hosting the BJCP Pro Shop online store, offering polo shirts in sizes for men and women, as well as new short sleeve workshirts. Thanks to BJCP member Tom Gentry for hosting the store.
BJCP Workshirt in Black
BJCP Monthly Exam Quota Increased
As announced at the NHC this year, the BJCP has increased the monthly quota of exam sites from 8 to 10. Organizers for all previously-scheduled exams were contacted, and were given the opportunity to move their exams forward in the schedule. Those changes have been processed, which resulted in additional exam slots being available for all of 2015. Please see the current exam schedule for availability.
Exam Program Changes
As announced at the BJCP Member's Meeting at the NHC, the backlog of exams has been cleared and new exams are being processed with an average turnaround time of 3 months. Because of this improvement in exam processing and the current availability of exam graders, the Exam Directors have decided to raise the limit on the number of exam sites per month from 8 to 10, starting in October 2013. We will continue to monitor exam turnaround and consider raising the limits further in the future.
The Exam Directors will be contacting existing exam sites to determine if any existing exams wish to move forward in the schedule. DO NOT CONTACT THE EXAM DIRECTORS. They will move through the schedule in an orderly manner. Once existing exams have been moved forward, any open slots will be shown on the Exam Calendar and likely noted in a web page announcement.
In preparation for handling the increased exam workload, new Exam Directors and Associate Exam Directors have been named. For the current roster of officers, please see our officers page. Steve Piatz has taken on the new role of Lead Exam Director, responsible for coordinating exam directorate policy and procedures, and handling scheduling of exams and graders. The remaining Exam Directors are responsible for overseeing and reviewing all exams.
The Exam Directors have also approved processes for requesting large tasting exam sites (20 to 48 examinees). These procedures are described in the Exam Scheduling Procedures page.
We can always use interested exam graders; to volunteer, send an email to the Exam Directors.
Record BJCP Events at the NHC
Three BJCP Exams were given at the NHC: 6 mead, 14 written, and 49 tasting exams. This is the largest set of exams ever given; yet there were 11 open tasting seats. No one was turned away from the exams.
NHC Second Round judging involved over 200 BJCP judges with 197 BJCP judges seated in one session – a record! Over 54% of those judging were BJCP National rank or higher, including over 13% Master and higher judges.
Reminders for New Judges and Organizers
With the new exam program being introduced this year, there has been an increase in questions from new judges and organizers. Following are answers to these common questions:
- Judges who pass the online exam are provisional judges but are not BJCP-ranked judges. They do not get assigned Judge IDs and may not yet request retroactive points.
- Provisional judges who judge in BJCP-sanctioned competitions should be treated by organizers as non-BJCP judges for reporting purposes. Report points by judge name.
- We scan for retroactive points when new judges take the initial tasting exam, and again when the exam results are posted. Do not request retroactive points before your exam results are received.
- Judge record updates are posted to the web site every four to six weeks. If you have received your exam results since the last time the web site was updated, do not ask about retroactive points. Wait for our normal processes to work. Check the main BJCP web page and look on the right side under "Check Your Record" to see when the last time the judge records were updated.
- If you are a judge who wants to claim retroactive points, first make sure your judge record is updated. Then make sure the organizer's report has been submitted for that competition. Check the Database Reports section of the web site for this information. When requesting points, provide the name, date and ID number of the competition in question.
- If you are an organizer who wants to change a previously-submitted organizer's report, simply email the changes to the IT Director. You cannot edit a report that has already been submitted. Just tell us what needs to be changed. Please provide the Competition ID. For changes to judge points, provide the Judge ID, the role performed, and the number of points to be awarded. Please be sure the points have been assigned in accordance with the competition point award schedule.
Following these simple procedures will allow the volunteer BJCP staff to focus their efforts on more productive work.
Updated Exam Materials
Several of the exam materials have been updated, including the exam study guide. Additional Portuguese translations of exam materials have been posted as well.
Competition Registration Changes
BJCP competition registration processing has been streamlined to address common requests and has been updated based on how most competitions are currently run. We now provide a complete list of all active BJCP judges sorted by country, state, and name, rather than custom lists. Sort the file appropriately and use only those judges you need, or import it into competition management software. No label files and sign-in forms are included; you can create your own using mailmerge or competition management software. Evaluation forms can be downloaded from the competition center, if required. Finally, the free entry certificate for the AHA NHC competition is no longer included at the AHA's request; apparently very few were being used, and the competition is already over-subscribed. With over 400 competitions a year now being held, these changes have reduced processing time by over half from older methods.
NHC 2012 Presentation
The keynote presentation at the judge reception at the 2012 AHA NHC has been posted. Presented by Dr. Diego Libkind of Argentina, this presentation discusses how the cold-fermenting parent of modern lager yeast was discovered. Speaker notes are included.
Portuguese and Spanish Exams
The online entrance exam questions are now available in Portuguese and Spanish for our fellow judges in Brazil, Argentina, and other countries, although the testing interface is only available in English or Spanish. Program materials continue to be translated by volunteers in South America. Our deepest appreciation goes out to all who helped (service points are being awarded, for those who are interested).
New Exam Program Launched
The BJCP Board has unanimously approved the recommendation of the Exam Directors to implement a new beer exam program, effective April 1, 2012. No legacy exams will be given on or after this date. Please read the details carefully, as much has changed. Note: the mead exam remains unchanged.
BJCP exam and competition materials have been updated to reflect the new exam. Please download new copies if you are using old ones. The study guide has been updated, but the exams cover the same general topics as before.
Prospective judges must first pass the BJCP Beer Judge Entrance Exam, a new online exam with 200 True-False and Multiple Choice questions that must be answered in one hour. Passing this exam allows judges to sign up for the new BJCP Beer Judging Examination, a practical tasting exam with 6 exam beers judged in 90 minutes. The score on this exam will allow a judge to be ranked as Apprentice, Recognized, or Certified.
National judges and any judges who score 80 or higher on any tasting exam and have 10 judging experience points may register for the BJCP Beer Judge Written Proficiency Exam, which allows judges to advance to National and higher ranks. This new written exam will have 20 true-false questions and five essay questions that must be answered in 90 minutes. The new exams will be weighted 50/50 in determining an overall score for rank purposes.
New rules exist for current judges, so check the implementation guide carefully. Note that no current judges will have their ranks adjusted automatically, although current Apprentice judges have two years to become Recognized judges or have their judging status revoked.
Quotas on exams remain in effect until the current exam backlog is cleared. The Exam Directors will then reassess the quota system and make necessary adjustments.
New Mobile App
Blackberry users: you now have a set of the style guidelines available on your device. Check out the Style Center for more details.
Discounted Off Flavor Kits Available
Last January, the BJCP board approved making discounted off-flavor kits available to members. We are now ready to launch that program. Any active BJCP member holding the rank of Recognized or higher may purchase one off-flavor kit a year for the price of US$50 (shipping included). This is the same kit provided to organizers of exam preparation classes. Each kit can easily provide samples for 20-30 people, so they are best used in large groups. See the CEP Kits Page for more details on the contents.
To order a kit, use the our Kit Ordering web application. You must authenticate using the BJCP portal, and pay for the kit using PayPal. The ordering process is similar to that used for BJCP Name Badges. Orders will be consolidated monthly and submitted to Siebel for fulfillment. Please order at least two months in advance of when you need the kit. Kits have a finite shelf-life, so don't keep them around indefinitely.
This initiative is funded through our Continuing Education Program. Details may be changed in the future depending on available funds and demand. Please provide feedback to the BJCP Education Director or your Regional Representative.
New Exam Policies Announced
The Exam Directors, with the concurrence of the BJCP Board of Directors, have changed the policy regarding examinations being returned to examinees. The new policy authorizes Exam Administrators to make copies of the exams to return to the examinees once it is confirmed that the originals have been received by the BJCP. This policy applies to new exams only (after August 15, 2010); older exams will not be returned. The BJCP will not make copies or return exams directly; it is the responsibility of the individual Exam Administrators. Expenses are covered by the increased funding alloted to administrators earlier this year.
The Exam Directors have also clarified the policy regarding exam proctors. Proctors must be active judges who are currently capable of producing National-level scoresheets. Exam administrators can find a list of eligible proctors online. If the Exam Administrator is unable to find at least two proctors meeting these requirements, he must contact the Exam Directors to get advance approval to use alternative proctors. Certified-ranked judges who have scored at the National level on the tasting portion of the exam are usually acceptable, but must be pre-approved.
Exam Scheduling Policy Updated Again
Effective immediately, the Exam Directors have changed the policy for scheduling BJCP exams. Up to 8 exam sites may now be registered per month (an increase from 5) but the total number of examinees per site is now limited to 12 (down from 20). This is an attempt to speed up the grading process by reducing the size of exam sets. Sites may request a larger quota (up to 20 examinees) but these must be pre-approved by the exam directors; more than one large site per month are unlikely to be approved.
Registration lead-time for a 12 seat site remains at 4 months. A 20 seat site must be registered 6 months in advance. Larger sites may be approved for remote or unusual locations that may have limited resources for offering an exam. Contact the exam directors for details.
Mobile Style Guidelines Available
Have you been judging lately? At a recent AHA NHC first round competition, nearly half the judges present were observed using mobile phones or devices with the BJCP guidelines. Thanks to the BJCP judges who have developed these useful applications and made them freely available to the BJCP community. If you judge with one of these guys, be sure to thank them in person.
Users of Apple iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices, take note. The BJCP Styles application has been updated. The new version (1.5.1) adds full-screen iPad support, as well as some other enhancements. Search for "BJCP" in the App Store. Thanks to BJCP judge Josh Baran.
Users of mobile devices running the Google Android OS also have a style guidelines app available. Again, search for "BJCP" in the Android Market and download the "BJCPdroid" app. Thanks to BJCP judge Jason Donmoyer.
Users of the Amazon Kindle have an option as well. Download the guidelines, do a USB transfer to the Kindle, and put in the documents directory. It uses the free MobiPocket reader e-book format. Thanks to BJCP judge John Alexander.
Commercial Calibration Scoresheets Available Online
The AHA has added a special members-only feature to their website. Complete archives of the "Commercial Calibration" column from Zymurgy are now online. Featuring Grand Master judges David Houseman, Beth Zangari, Scott Bickham, and Gordon Strong, the archives are searchable by brewery, style, or name. Note that you must be an AHA member to access the sheets, and that you must register on the AHA website and link your AHA ID to your online account. Not a member? Join now.
BJCP Lowers Fees
The BJCP board voted unanimously to lower competition fees from $35 to $30. Exam fees remain the same, but exam administrators may now retain 30% of the exam fees for expenses (up from the current 20%). These moves have been made because of improved efficiencies in the program and a more favorable financial position.
Mead Judge Program Launched
The Exam Directors have approved the formal introduction of the Mead Judge program, after the successful pilot exam and the completion of the initial release of the Mead Exam Study Guide. Additional mead-related resources can be found on the Mead Resources page. Mead Exams are run as part of the existing Exam Directorate, and subject to the same general exam scheduling rules and procedures.
Mead exams may now be registered; the first open slot is February 2010. The number of Mead Exams will be limited as the program ramps up and additional graders get trained. One mead exam per month may be scheduled from February 2010 through June 2010. Two mead exams per month can be scheduled from July 2010 through November 2010, when restrictions on scheduling will be lifted. Note that mead exams count towards the existing five exams per month limit.
Finally, note that mead exams and beer exam types cannot be mixed at a single site. An exam registration can be for one or the other exam type, but not both. Multiple exam types per site are discouraged due to the five slot per month limit.
New Beer Flavor Kits Available for Order
The BJCP is happy to announce a partnership with the Siebel Institute to provide their new Sensory Training Kit to BJCP exam prep classes. The Sensory Training Kit is a commercial product containing 24 different flavor samples, and replaces the prior kit which contained 10 samples.
The new Siebel kit will be offered under the same terms as the previous kit: any CEP-registered exam prep class leading to a BJCP-registered exam can request a kit by contacting the Education Director. The kits are free, but shipping, duties, etc. involved in shipping outside the continental US will be charged at cost.
The Education Director has contacted exam administrators and prep class organizers that have already been registered. Prep classes for exams already held in 2009 are eligible for receiving a kit, but must request one. Any organizer who did not receive a kit or who did not receive an email, please contact the Education Director to request one.
Please check the CEP Kits page for full details.
Former BJCP President and Treasurer Sentenced
Former BJCP President and Treasurer William R. Slack of Nashua, NH was sentenced on December 16, 2008 in U.S. District Court in Concord, NH. Mr. Slack admitted his guilt as part of a plea bargain. During his allocution, Mr. Slack admitted that he misappropriated BJCP funds steadily during this tenure as BJCP Treasurer. Mr. Slack was sentenced to (1) restitution of approximately $43K, (2) five years probation, and (3) incarceration of one week per month for twelve months.
For a quick update based on BJCP President Gordon Strong's notes, see this thread in the BJCP Forums. A full report will be forthcoming once all details are gathered. Expect it around the time the Annual Report is published.
Color Guide Instructions Now Available Online
The Color Guide page describes our new BJCP Color Guide, a free resource for BJCP members. It serves as a resource for instruction on color guide use, as well as details on how to care for it, and how to acquire replacements. All active BJCP members were mailed a guide in late May (which also let us validate your mailing addresses). Anyone taking the BJCP Exam will get a Color Guide along with their results, as will anyone being promoted.
Former BJCP Treasurer Indicted For Fraud (May 2007)
As many members know, there has been an ongoing effort to deal with the failure of the former BJCP Treasurer, Mr. William R. Slack, of Nashua, New Hampshire, to turn over the funds in the treasury to the current Treasurer. Mr. Slack, also a former BJCP President, has not communicated with the current Board of Directors, and we have been pursuing a resolution of this matter since 2004.
For obvious reasons, the BJCP officers and legal committee are unable to comment publicly, but we feel the membership deserves to be kept informed as much as possible.Links in the following paragraphs will display the relevant documents.
We recently learned that a Federal Grand Jury has indicted Mr. Slack for fraud. This indictment was reported in the local newspaper in Nashua. Mr. Slack was served with a summons on April 30, 2007 for his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on May 17, 2007.
Mr. Slack appeared with his public defender at that hearing, and entered a plea of "not guilty" to the charge. He was released pending trial, subject to a number of conditions, and a trial date has been set for July 10, 2007.
1st Update: Mr. Slack, through his public defender, requested a continuance (legalese for a delay in going to trial). On June 26, 2007, the court granted his request, and rescheduled his trial for October 10, 2007.
2nd Update: Mr. Slack, through his public defender, requested a second continuance which was also granted, which postpones his trial until at least February 5, 2008.
3rd Update: Mr. Slack, through his public defender, requested a third continuance which was also granted, which postpones his trial until at least June 3, 2008.
4th Update: Mr. Slack, through his public defender, requested a fourth continuance which was also granted, which postpones his trial until at least September 3, 2008.
5th Update: Mr. Slack, through his public defender, entered into a plea agreement on September 2, 2008. In the agreement, Mr. Slack agreed to plead guilty to his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for December 16, 2008 at 10:30am at the Federal Courthouse in Concord, NH.6th Update: Mr. Slack was sentenced on December 16, 2008 to five years probation, incarceration of one week per month for twelve months, and restitution of approximately $43K. The sentencing order provides full details of the sentence imposed. The local newspaper in Nashua reported on the trial, and it was also mentioned in the Keene, NH paper. A full report is forthcoming.
The BJCP is satisfied with this sentence and believes this matter is now closed.