Board Meeting Minutes, November 13th, 2022

BJCP Board Meeting 11/13/2022 Agenda and Minutes 

In attendance:
Dennis Mitchell
Omer Basha
Brian Cooper
Andrew Luberto
Gail Milburn
Greg Toothaker
Fred Mullner
Sal Mortillaro
David Houseman
Don Blake
James Foster

  1. Exam-related items
    1. Exam Grading Times (Omer & Mark wanted to talk about international exams)
      1. Problems contributing to long exam grading times: 
        1. Dennis addressed some of the issues currently being brought up by various board members.  He spoke about some of the issues making the transition to Don as well as the current issues facing the MED position and exam directorate.
          1. There were some processes not well documented that caused issues.
          2. Several ED retirements as well as promotions that didn’t pan out. 
          3. The pandemic created a lot of backlog with the flexibility the BJCP gave to rescheduling exams. 
      2. Actions taken to start to improve situation:
        1. Onboarded additional EDs (Mike, Andy) 
        2. Requesting to add Diego as ED to further assist with international exams and translations
        3. Don is documenting tasks so that we can identify how to spread the work (too much for just the MED to handle)
          1. Don met with Greg T and they came up with some ideas to help with the workload
            1. Continue to develop tools they are already implementing. 
            2. Spreading translation responsibilities. Moving towards having Spanish exams fully graded without any translations.  James Foster has been advocating for this as regional rep. 
            3. Tomas will be taking care of all translations. 
            4. Don wants to bring the ED Directorate back to what it used to be instead of a MED handling the bulk of the responsibilities. 
            5. Discussion also ensued about potential new EDs. 
          2. Dennis emphasized how the board wants to help and support in any way needed, acknowledging that the original intent behind the creation of the MED is not how the current position panned out in terms of amount of responsibilities. The MED should be overseeing and delegating, not having to do everything. 
          3. Dennis called a vote for Diego Setti to ED, Andrew Seconded
            1. Yeas – Fred/Andrew/Dennis/Gail/Brian/Sal/Omer
            2. Nays – none
    2. Exam Committee (Andrew)
      1. Dennis talked about the prior efforts of a previous exam committee and the pitfalls they faced. 
      1. In 2020, board approved white paper related to changing how the organization expects judges to provide feedback in the exam and in competitions. Would like the  current board to confirm that decision. 
        1. Dennis believes that judges do not need to make prescriptive feedback on  recipe/process and we should facilitate a move to a more sensory based feedback and asked the current board to support this decision. 
        2. The ED will also provide feedback on the white paper statement.  
        3. MED Don asked for people with an education background to help with any exam recommendations in the making of any future exam committee. 
        4. Brian Cooper expressed concern about not giving the message that we’re watering down feedback.  He had the idea of including resources for people to look up – like there is on the tasting exam.  
        5. Fred Mullner asked to make sure there is a roll out plan for all facets of the exam structure (graders, admins, proctors, etc) with any changes.  He stressed the need for this to be a full rollout and not a piecemeal approach.
        6. Don asked that the organization also consider changing the scoresheet to mirror these changes.  He emphasized a need to have a top down direction coming from the Board directing all facets of the organization. 
        7. Dennis stressed that the EDs can’t handle additional projects until things are stabilized and the need to figure out a timeline to solve current issues. 
        8. Andrew brought up some of the concerns with the current exam structures but also supported moving towards the direction approved by the previous board.
        9. Dennis brought up that he has gotten much feedback by membership about the online exam.  
      2. Other big exam items that might be “low hanging fruit” to address are vital stats on the written (could easily edit that question). 
        1. Don pointed out that this decision is a Board decision ultimately not an ED decision.  Dennis agreed that it is a collaborative decision but ultimately the decision of the Board. 
        2. Andrew expressed that he thinks some things need to change with the exam format. We kept certain elements because there were intentions behind the original exam, but don’t make sense in the new format. Way overdue to look at the current exams and what we are trying to accomplish. What are the skills we are trying to assess? What are we actually testing for? Concern of high pass rate on tasting exam. Level of detail too high on the online exam.
        3. Dennis expressed a desire to form a small team to look over the exam structure and make recommendations.  Many board members expressed support (Fred, Andrew, Gail). Sal expressed the desire to make sure the integrity of the exam and the skills needed to be a certified judge remain intact. 
    3. Online exam update to 2021 guidelines
      1. Dennis finished review and about 80 of the 3000+ online beer exam questions need updated to match 2021 guidelines. Working with ED Mike Lentz and Coursewebs to make those changes. May need help to make changes for translated online exams. ‘
        1. Dennis is working with Gordon on making a document overviewing the changes in the 2021 guidelines (e.g. no bubblegum esters in Weizen, no grassy dry hop character).
        2. The changes are close enough that it shouldn’t impact any current examinees and the changes should be done soon.  
  2. IT Updates
    1. IT New Day System Update
      1. Unfortunately, prior vendor had to back out
      2. Bruce is onboarding new assistants and based on response will make the call to search for new vendor or build in-house. Complicating factor is Bruce is taking back the legacy database from Gordon, which is a very time consuming job to maintain. 
      3. Bruce is looking for the best way forward to creating the new database. In house volunteers or a new more pricier commercial vendor.  Estimates at around $100K.  Greg and David said from experience it could potentially  be much higher. 
        1. Dave strongly stressed as a long time director, the need to make IT changes.  There are too many manual processes. 
        2. Dave brought up the idea of grants as a non-profit, Dennis said he would look into available grants. Greg/Dave expressed that changes in work or revisions is what balloons costs of projects of web development. 
          1. Don said the ED has already created documentation. Dave said the Exam Directorate has as well, however, he’s been kept out of the loop a bit from IT.  
        3. Greg (with web development experience) said it was also important to have a strong project manager, possibly someone from the BJCP or at the very least someone with knowledge of the organization. 
      4. Still waiting to see if there are more applications for Assistant IT
      5. Bruce wanted to expedite creating a more automated process in registering exams – create in house. 
      6. Andrew noted his opinion to stick with external vendor in interest of speed (Brian supported)
      7. Brian spoke about the previous discussions about fee increases being used to help offset the cost. 
    2. Assistant IT Directors for approval (+ still seeking more)
        1. Dennis called for a vote for both positions (Brian C. seconded): In favor Sal, Andrew, Brian, Gail, Fred, Omer, Dennis. 
      2. Joshua Jackson – will be tasked to document all the knowledge that James has of the org system. 
  3. Communications Update
    1. Transition starting over to Andrew Melchers
      1. Dennis wants him to start by looking at the website in terms of documentation and information for revisions.  
    2. Andrew L transitioning out of Assistant CD /newsletter editor role
  4. Style Directorate Proposal
    1. Gordon Submitted a draft charter for a new Styles Directorate
    2. Feedback:
      1. Gordon said it would be better to keep the style updates as a committee working under the directorate since it’s easier to transition multiple people in and out without the permanency of board approval. He also mentioned the need to allocate funds in our budget for the Directorate.
      2. Brian Cooper – expressed the desire that the directorate to would oversee and document important items such as the specific “voice” used, as well as any preferred formats / ordering / details / wording used in creating guidelines.
      3. Andrew expressed the desire to make the committee more accountable to the board. 
      4. David raised the point there was never an official charter for a standing committee in the first place. 
      5. Don also expressed that the committee should also be more involved in the implementing the changes their work created (eg exam question changes)
  5. Trademark update
    1. Marks for the names “Beer Judge Certification Program” and “BJCP” as well as the logo passed USPTO review and will be published for objections. After that process, if no objections, marks will be registered. We will need to renew every 5 years or so (our attorney will contact us, but we should have someone that also watches out for that). 
      1. Huzzah. Registered for education and other areas. 
    2. We will need to monitor and send letters when we see our trademarks violated
      1. Dennis will have the attorney create a stock “cease and desist” letter for the org to use in the future. 
  6. Exam Fees and Pin Mailing 
    1. Dennis gave updates on raising the exam fees and having pins being send by the badge vendor
      1. If we increase tasting.written exams by $10  it will generate $5,500, $20 = 10,000
      2. Online exams every $5 increase generates $10,000
      3. Dave suggested getting rid of the discount for retakes and exams.
      4. Dennis asked for feedback from int’l reps. Omer felt that it shouldn’t be a problem for EMEA. James also supported a $5-10 increase for LA.
      5. David gave some insight into the fee structure for commercial competitions being the same as all comps.  Registration with BJCP is being done for the benefit of the judges so he cautioned against raising it too much. Also, the monetary benefit for the Org is low. 
      6. There were a variety of ideas raised like getting rid of the 2 for 3 online fees and to create a possible permanent designation for those who pass the online exam.  Discussion ensued about the pros/cons of a permanent certification and what that may look like. 
      7. Don brought up the expiration of the online cert and the creation of an extension increase to 2 years and how that would be easier for the ED to not have to check up on.  Dennis noted that a vote would have to be held by the board to accomplish this. 
      8. Omer asked for a report for those missing a pin when we move over to a vendor.  Many international members have not gotten one.  Dennis said we could potentially put out a membership survey to find out.
        1. Dennis expressed sending a box of pins to Omer for him to distribute. Omer agreed. 
  7. Rep communications with regional members (Fred)
    1. Fred left the meeting due to a prior engagement. Dennis recapped the previous board consensus of keeping it through the Comms team.  
  8. Web domains
    1. Sarah Pantry noted the “” domain was available at low cost. Dennis reserved the URLs for future use and set them to redirect to our current website: 
      3. (surprised we had not already registered this)
      4. Dennis will have Andrew M/Communications monitor any new addresses that pop up. 
  9. Long-term stability of the organization
    1. Dennis expressed the need to have people prepared for succession so we’re not scrambling to replace and fix when people leave positions integral to the organization. 
    2. Also, to make sure no part of the Org is depending too much on one single person.  
    3. Dennis brought back the previous idea of a paid executive director.  He reiterated that he plans to stay on through the end of his term but that we need to start thinking now of how the succession of these positions should work.  
      1. Dave voiced support for a director. 
      2. Brian talked about the need to possibly amend the bylaws
      3. Andrew spoke about making sure we groom replacements in advance rather than searching after a leave (eg competition directorate)
      4. Discussion also ensued about the need for people in key roles to fully document what they do so future volunteers know.