Beer Judge Program

Beer Judge Program Overview

One of the most important things the BJCP does is to administer the BJCP Beer Judge qualifying examinations. These are the tests that distinguishes the true beer judge from everyone else. The BJCP Beer Judge Exam Series is how a beer enthusiast becomes a beer judge in the BJCP. It covers:

  • Technical aspects of brewing, ingredients, brewing process and possible faults.
  • World beer styles, including characteristics, history, ingredients and brewing techniques.
  • The purpose of the BJCP and the criteria for the judging ranks.
  • Judging procedures and ethics.

The BJCP Beer Judge Exam Series consists of three examinations:

  • The BJCP Beer Judge Entrance Examination

    An online examination to screen prospective candidates.

  • The BJCP Beer Judging Examination

    A practical tasting examination of six beers in a competition-like setting.

  • The BJCP Beer Judge Written Proficiency Examination

    A written examination consisting of 20 True-False and five essay questions used to test skills and knowledge necessary for higher rank

How to Become A Beer Judge

  1. Study for the cider exam and understand the beer judge examination process. The BJCP Education Directorate has created and published several judge training and study programs to assist prospective judges with their studies. 
  2. Pass the BJCP online beer entrance exam. The starting point to become a beer, mead, or cider judge is the same: take and pass the appropriate online entrance exam via Coursewebs. The entrance exams screen prospective candidates via multiple-choice, true/false, and multiple answer question types. The online beer entrance exam contains 180 questions over 60 minutes. Online exams can be taken once per day, but we suggest taking time to study before retaking after a failed attempt. Passing an online exam allows an examinee to register for a judging exam (see step 3 below), but does not grant membership in the BJCP
    • NOTE: Once you pass the online beer entrance exam, you only have one year to sit for a beer judging exam (see step 3 below). We recommend that you secure a spot to take an exam before passing the online exam. Otherwise, if you cannot find an open exam seat within a year, you will have to retake the online exam. 
  3. Pass the BJCP beer judging exam. This is a practical tasting exam of judging six beer in a competition-like setting. Passing this exam grants membership in the BJCP and awards standard beer judge certification levels of either Recognized beer judge, Certified beer judge, depending on exam score and experience points earned. 
    • Tips to register for an exam: Search the BJCP Exam Calendar for a beer exam that you can attend. Contact the exam administrator to inquire if there are open exam seats. If there are, ask to secure a seat and pay any exam fees to the exam administrator. Once you have secured an exam seat, take and pass the online beer entrance exam sometime during the 12 months preceding your exam date. Note that some exam administrators may require the online exam certificate before securing an exam seat or may set a deadline to pass the online exam to keep your exam seat.

Exam Study Resources 

The BJCP Education Directorate has created and published several judge training and study programs to assist prospective judges with their studies. A beer exam study guide is also available. 

How to become a higher-ranked beer judge

The BJCP uses a tiered rank system for beer judges. Ranks are determined by the exams taken, the highest scores on those exams, and the amount of experience points earned. The BJCP does not grant reciprocity for certifications earned from other organizations such as the Cicerone. Obtaining the requisite BJCP exam score and experience points is the only method to advance in BJCP rank. 

Standard Beer Judge Ranks

The beer judge ranks of Recognized and Certified can be obtained after passing the online beer entrance exam and the beer judging exam in the process described in the “how to become a judge” section above.

  • Recognized rank is awarded to judges with a score of 60-69 on the judging exam OR to judges with a score of 70+ who have earned fewer than 5 experience points*.
  • Certified rank is awarded to judges with a score of 70 or higher on the judging exam after earning 5 experience points.

Advanced Beer Judge Ranks

Beer judges who score an 80 or higher on the beer judging exam (and have earned 10 judging points) are eligible to take the BJCP Beer Written Proficiency Exam to reach National or Master Beer Judge ranks. The scores from the judging exam and written exam are averaged to create a composite exam score.

  • National beer judge rank is earned with a composite score of 80-89 and 20 experience points (with at least 10 points from judging).
  • Master beer judge rank is earned with a composite score of 90+ and 40 experience points (with at least 20 points from judging).

Current National rank judges can retake either the beer judging or written exam to improve their composite score and attempt to earn the 90+ composite score needed for Master rank. Certified or Recognized judges who took the BJCP Beer Legacy Examination prior to April 2012 qualify to sit for the written exam if they received an 80% or higher on the tasting portion of the legacy exam format and have 10 judging points. 

The Grand Master Beer Judge rank has the same exam score requirement as Master rank, but requires 100 experience points and an additional “Grand Master Service Requirement” to the BJCP such as points earned from grading exams (see the Grand Master Service Requirement rules for details).  

*All experience point rank requirements require at least half of the total experience points to be earned from judging. 

Beer Judge Ranks Table

Ranks Minimum Score Required

Experience Points Required

GMSR Required?*
Judging Score Composite (Judging/Written Exam Avg.) Total Points Judging Points
Recognized 60 N/A 0 0 N
Certified 70 N/A 5 2.5 N
National 80 80 20 10 N
Master 80 90 40 20 N
Grand Master 80 90 100 50 Y

*The Grand Master rank is awarded in levels, starting with Grand Master I. Each additional Grand Master level has the same requirements as the original Grand Master rank: 100 experience points with 50 from judging, and an additional GMSR – see the Grand Master Service Requirement rules for details). 

Questions and Contacts

If you have additional questions, please contact the  BJCP Exam Directors.