We sometimes refer to this as setting up a BJCP chapter, but we don’t really have that as a formal part of our organizational structure. A chapter is a local group or branch of a larger organization; having a structure like this in your country may be helpful, but it isn’t required. A local chapter of the BJCP is not an independent organization. It is a group of BJCP members within a country who agree to work together to promote the interests of members in that country.
Before you begin, you need to have a critical mass of people who want to become judges. It’s hard to set up a local chapter with only a handful of people. In that case, it’s probably better for those local people to travel to a different country and take a BJCP exam there.
If you have at least 8 people committed, you can schedule an exam. See the exam scheduling requirements (link) for more information. The local exam administrator needs to understand this process well and have access to proper samples, as described in (link).
Exam proctors will be a problem. They’ll have to travel from somewhere else. The BJCP can help subsidize some of this cost, and we can help identify people who might be able to help you. This can take some time to organize, so contact us well in advance.
Getting people trained to take the exam can be a problem. We recommend group study, although our study materials can certainly be used by individuals. However, those teaching a study group should be certified by the BJCP so that they understand the program and its expectations. Language barriers could be a problem, particularly if the examinees do not speak English, Spanish, or Portuguese.
The advice so far is really all about getting ready to schedule an exam; however, you should have a valid reason to have judges if you want your group to thrive. There should be a vibrant and growing homebrewing scene, and there should be a desire to hold competitions. A local chapter of the BJCP can provide additional benefits to new members beyond scheduling examinations.
In addition to interested people, it’s very helpful to have an established homebrew community or craft beer community in your country. It can be a relatively new presence, but having people know something about beer is helpful, and having the ability to buy classic commercial examples also helps.
The BJCP operates primarily in English but has translated some of our materials into other languages. The ability to read and understand our materials is critical. If this is not possible for new judges, then having a group of people who can translate our materials into the local language is essential.
To be treated as a chapter, we would like there to be a contact person who can represent your country to the BJCP. This person should be able to:
- Speak and write English fairly well
- Have the respect of local homebrewers and judges
- Be willing to coordinate local resources
- Serve as a point of contact for local questions, understand the BJCP well enough to represent us or to funnel questions to the right people
- Help schedule exams, be a judge, and possibly train or teach others (or know who can do these tasks)
- Help with translation efforts if needed, or help coordinate local translators
The contact person should have taken the BJCP exam, and preferably be on the path to become a National judge.
The country should have regular competitions and events where judges can gain experience. Having some form of national or regional competition is a good idea, as is national or regional conferences.
The local chapter can be an existing organization within a country for homebrewing that agrees to take on a BJCP responsibility. Some successful structures have regional levels and national levels, and all work as one body when working with the BJCP. Mostly we are interested in seeing that judges within a country have an opportunity to learn, to judge in competitions, to meet other judges, and to develop their own community and identity, in addition to being members in the worldwide BJCP organization. Local web sites, forums, social media accounts, or other similar structures can facilitate this information sharing.
Benefits of an in-country BJCP structure:
- Coordinate homebrew clubs
- Establish a national competition or conference
- Share information
- Set up local forums or sharing opportunities
- Pool educational opportunities
- Possibly translate materials
- Coordinate country positions and input to the BJCP on issues, requests, and requirements
- Better share costs of bringing in outside help
- Advise the BJCP on new information (styles, etc.)
- Select senior people to represent interests to the BJCP