Competition Handbook

Copyright © 2019, BJCP, Inc.

The BJCP grants the right to make copies for use in  BJCP-sanctioned competitions or for educational/judge training purposes. All other rights reserved.

By Luann Fitzpatrick, Gordon Strong, David Houseman and Mike Dixon


Homebrewing has grown and changed over the years. It has gone from a necessary chore back in pioneering days to a hobby and even an obsession in current times. Mankind has the tendency to be competitive, so it is not a big surprise that homebrewing and competition go hand-in-hand. Since 2006, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) have combined to sponsor the AHA/BJCP Sanctioned Competition Program (SCP) and have been responsible for sanctioning and overseeing homebrew competitions. With increasing interest in homebrewing, there has also been an increase in the number of competitions that are available to enter. Although there may be many ways to organize and run a competition, there are some strategies and techniques that have proven to produce an efficient and smooth-running competition. These ideas are described in great detail to assist anyone interested in organizing a new or existing competition. This guide is set up to walk the reader through a competition step-by-step, starting with the planning stage all the way through the final reporting of results to the BJCP. We hope this guide proves helpful to you, whether you are a novice or veteran organizer.

Background: The BJCP

The BJCP examines and certifies judges skilled in evaluating and judging beer and the related fermented products, mead and cider. The details of the BJCP program can be found in the Exam Program Overview. To summarize, there are levels of beer judges from Recognized, Certified, National, Master, and levels of Grand Master. Judges progress in rank as they gain experience and show increased knowledge. Judges receive credit for their experience judging by the points they earn while judging. These points often will draw judges to your competition.

While reading this document, refer to definitions of common terms.


Competition Planning Overview

Getting Started and Competition Planning

Preparing for the Competition 

Competition Day

Competition Wrap-Up