Why do you keep changing the guidelines?

We don’t really change the guidelines that often. We’ve published revisions in 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2008. The 1999 and 2004 revisions were quite major. The 2008 revision was relatively minor.

We understand the ripple effects (both internal and external to the BJCP) of making major changes to the guidelines, so we don’t make the changes lightly. We think revising the guidelines every three-to-five years is a decent schedule that lets us correct errors and take advantage of new information while keeping disruptions to a minimum.

The 2008 guidelines were produced after new literature gave us more information on certain styles (mostly Belgian ones). We strive to have the guidelines agree with important beer references, and whenever someone publishes new research, we give it a close look. Commercial examples of styles also tend to become out-of-date over time. Finally, our members often catch small errors that should be corrected. The guidelines are quite extensive. Despite thorough reviews, errors do slip into the final versions. We want the guidelines to be as correct as possible.