The BJCP Annual Report is a review of activities by the various directorates and the President of the BJCP during the course of the previous year. It also includes plans for the future direction of the organization. This report is mandated by the BJCP Bylaws and is meant as a direct communication with the membership.
by Dennis Mitchel, Mountain/Northwest Rep and BJCP President
The 2021 year was a year of transition for the BJCP with several key leadership positions seeing new faces. Long-time BJCP President and IT Director Gordon Strong bid farewell to his roles. The board appointed Bruce Buerger as our new IT Director (leaving his role as Education Director) and myself (Dennis Mitchell, Mountain-Northwest Rep) as the Board President. The board unanimously recognized Gordon’s incredible contributions to the organization with the title and role of President Emeritus.
The BJCP’s founding Education Director, Dr. Kristen England, returned as Education Director. Managing Exam Director Sarah Bridegroom resigned and was replaced with Don Blake. Transitions of this nature can be healthy for an organization as they often bring new voices and ideas; however, transitions can slow down work temporarily as people transition into their new roles.
I encourage you to read the full annual report for detailed updates from the directorates and regions, but I will provide some highlights here.
We completed two major projects in 2021: finally transitioning to our new website and releasing the 2021 update to the Beer Style Guidelines. We expect all exams and competitions to use the 2021 beer guidelines as of 01 August 2022, but please check with local competitions on their specific rules. I encourage all judges to review the 2021 edition. While the core aspects of most styles did not change, many guidelines were edited or rewritten for additional clarity and consistency. I think these are the best edition of the beer guidelines yet, and I thank Gordon and Kristen for their hard work with many tedious hours of research and writing, in addition to other key contributors. For mead and cider, the 2015 guidelines remain in effect and we are evaluating the need for updates.
We currently have several major projects ongoing, several in an effort to modernize the organization’s infrastructure and create stability for the future. First and foremost, the IT Directorate is working on modernizing our database infrastructure. While our current database has served us well for many years (thanks to the creation and care from Gordon Strong), it is showing its age and is reliant on too much manual input that creates bottlenecks and delays in our workflows. We are hopeful for a new database to be implemented this year that will help to streamline many of our processes and hopefully lessen delays to exam results and competition report postings. This is not an easy undertaking, and we are lucky to have Bruce Beurger leading the effort with support from James Golovich.
Even though we recently launched our new website, the infrastructure and design is unfortunately already outdated due to the long delays in getting it up and running. We are in discussions for a minor web refresh using more modern mobile-friendly design. We are also working with a member to develop an official BJCP phone application that will contain the style guidelines and, eventually, other features such as a judge login.
We are also having conversations around the topics of updating our documentation, such as scoresheets and fault lists, for currency and relevance. For example, many members have noted the “bottle inspection” line on the classic score sheets is out of date as cans are becoming more commonplace in homebrew competitions. Other conversations include ensuring our exam structure and formats remain relevant in modern times and are fulfilling our primary purpose of certified beer, mead, and cider judges.
Times continue to remain uncertain with coronavirus variants and world events. As 2021 unfolds, please respect local guidance related to events and proactive measures. Above all, please do what you can to stay safe and healthy. We have lost several judges and friends to COVID. We continued to see the effects of COVID as the numbers of exams and competitions trailed pre-pandemic levels. But, the exam calendar is starting to fill up again and more and more competitions are returning.
The BJCP continues its international growth. I would like to specifically thank our international representatives for their hard work in continuing to help the organization grow and helping the board to understand international dynamics and needs: Diego Setti for Latin America, Omer Basha for Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Chris Wong for Asia/Pacific.
There is much work to do, but we have a great group of volunteers working. Finally, I hope to see many of you at HomebrewCon in Pittsburgh this June. The new three-day judging format of the National Homebrew Competition directly preceding the conference means that we will have to adjust our usual convention programming. We are still currently working out the details with the AHA, so stay tuned for more. But, I will note that it is unlikely we will hold a members reception as we have in prior years. There just isn’t an available time slot given the new convention and competition judging schedule produced by the AHA. Regardless, I am excited for the first in-person convention since 2019 and look forward to seeing many of you there.
Exam Directors’ Report
by Managing Exam Director Don Blake
Since my last update, we have brought our two new Exam Directors, Stephen Clapham and Thomaz Pupo up to speed on the responsibilities of their new roles. We are now in the process of searching for additional Associate Directors to backfill the slots that Stephen and Thomaz left.
Thanks to all who responded to my recent grading inquiry. If you have responded and have not yet been assigned a set to grade, please be patient, you will be contacted with an assignment soon. If you have not received the email, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the pandemic is slowly subsiding, we have had most of the recent exams go on as scheduled. There are, however, some cancellations and postponements. We do expect more schedule impacts, but hope that we can get back to ‘the way it used to be’ in the near future. We are still waiving the one-year expiration of the online exam for the time being.
The demand for judging exams has been exceptionally strong in the Latin America and Europe/Middle East regions. Australia & Asia have also shown a lot of interest. Among the largest challenges we face in these areas is lack of qualified proctors (Judging exams require a minimum of 2 National-ranked proctors, with the preference of 1 Master if possible). Exceptions to this policy can be made on a case-by-case basis and requires advance communication with the ED team. To alleviate this issue, I am working with key people in these regions to hold written exams so that judges who qualify can sit for the written exam and eventually rank up to National or Master.
Translations for these international exams are also a time consuming aspect. We have a roster of judges who can translate, but we are always looking for additional support. If you have any interest in helping, please contact me at the email noted above.
As of Mar 1, the exam calendar for 2022 is full for March through June. As we have done in the past, there will be a full suite of exams (judging, mead, cider, written) at HomeBrewCon – Pittsburgh in June. The rest of the year has plenty of open exam slots. There currently are 89 exams on the calendar – 85 for 2022, and 4 are already scheduled for 2023. Of these scheduled exams, about 2/3 are outside the US.
There are currently 43 active exam sets. 30 are being graded or reviewed, 10 are in the translation process and 3 are being prepared for grading.
The exam team is in the process of reviewing the online and written exam question pools and will make changes necessary to be compatible with the newly released guidelines. Since the judging exam does not have any fundamental linkage to printed exam materials, we are targeting August 2022 for a changeover to the new guidelines. A formal communication will be made with a detailed transition schedule.
Education and Training Director’s Report
By David Houseman, Competition Director
Michael Bury, BJCP Assistant Competition Director
2021 BJCP Competition Directorate Annual Report
The idiom “We’re not out of the woods yet” best describes the competition landscape that occurred for 2021. While the overall number of competitions improved in 2021 (379 in 2020 to 528, 39 % increase), we still saw a large number of cancellations while the total number of successful competitions was stunted compared to pre-pandemic levels (895 in 2019 for example). We also saw competitions being held successfully in Belgium, Guatemala, Japan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Turkey, and Venezuela for either the first time or coming back from a hiatus in 2020.
However, organizers seemed more willing to postpone competition dates or seek alternative judging methods in order to pull-off their respective competitions. eJudging has become a go-to tool for organizers for both entire competitions but also for pre-judging, aka, judging before the actual day of the competition. Additional planning for eJudging is required for a successful experience but thankfully, there’s now a substantial amount of knowledge amongst a critical mass of judges and organizers. Finally, all three major competition software packages offer efficient online scoresheet entry.
Dealing with cancellations and postponements was still a difficult task in 2021 considering the circumstances. Everyone who registers a competition should become familiar with the cancellation policy. That being said, there were 127 competitions that had delinquent reports in 2021 which requires manual intervention. Furthermore, many of these competitions didn’t even occur so understanding of the cancellation policy is paramount.
Finally, after several years of revision, a new set of beer style guidelines was released for public consumption (2021 edition). A full rundown of changes, including the original announcement can be found here.
Here’s to an improved 2022 and beyond with more judging opportunities, virtual and in-person, for all BJCP judges.
Education and Training Directorate Report
By Kristen England, Education and Training Director
The end of 2021 was spent basically wrapping up little bits and bobs from Bruce’s time as Ed Director. Additionally, the transition got off to a rather slow start with trying to recruit new members into the education directorate, finishing up guideline changes and the stupid Omicron. That said, we now have a few new great people but could absolutely use more. We are specifically looking for people to have the ability to communicate and follow through but most certainly don’t need to be an expert in any field. We’ll have loads of opportunities of all types, for all experience levels. We are also focused on bringing in a more representative group of people including non-US based ones. The more diverse backgrounds we can have in our group, the better we can serve everyone. Anyone that is interested in coming on to the education team, please email us at email@example.com.
Towards the end of 2021 we consulted on a really great mead project. Dr Josh Holbrook put together a set of interviews with some of the most experienced mead makers and judges on all things mead along with a guided tasting. If you are into mead or want to learn more, especially the judging part, this is a great resource. This is not a BJCP production, though some of the interviewees are BJCP judges/members. Their opinions are their own. Caveat emptor and such… https://chopandbrew.com/tag/better-judge-a-mead/
We continue to work with Siebel for our off-flavor tasting kits. Randy Scorby has been doing a fantastic job in that role. One little wrinkle that has come up as of late is the requirement from Seibel that ALL KITS NEED TO BE SHIPPED TO A BUSINESS (name and address). There was some sort of issue with what was being sent and Seibel now requires a business address of any sort to ship. Nothing we can do about it for now, just a little more planning on people’s ordering end. More info about the kits here: https://www.bjcp.org/education-training/education-resources/sensory-kits/
We are currently working on a complete sour beer training program. It’s not the ‘how to brew’ but the ‘how to judge’ type. Sour/funky beers are their own little animals and the majority of judges only have a tangential relationship to them. This little project should not only help in solidifying whatever knowledge the judge already possesses but also can be used for brand new judges to give them everything they need to understand how to approach these ‘weird’ things.
With the omnipresence of IPAy/super massively hoppy things, taking over the majority of all beer menus and all competitions, we are working on a new partnership for training. It is not important if a judge can actually pick out hop varietals, what is important is for them to be able to describe all the components of hops. Inasmuch, we have just started chats with a large hop production company about having access to aroma kits to train our judges (think off-flavor kits but for + hop aromas). It’s an exciting opportunity, although too early to make any sort of detailed announcements. Stay tuned!
Finally, we are at a point where we have enough help in the education directorate where we’ll be putting out our own ‘Class in a can’. Basically, a simple plug and play course to train a person to be a judge first, and prepare for the exam second. Previously, we have preferred to have the people leading a class before a BJCP exam to use whatever documents they prefer to teach. There are many groups that share great materials with any and everyone that asks. However, there has been a paradigm shift in the last 2-3 years. In that time, the majority of groups training for an exam are strictly focusing on the actual exam rather than teaching how to be a good judge. Consequently, we find a lot of the newly trained judges aren’t trained to actually be good judges but trained to take the exam and lack most skills a judge should possess coming out of a training course. To be clear, groups are still allowed to use any materials they’d like to prepare for the exam. However, with this course, we hope there will be less of a focus on ‘Mastering the exam’ preparation and more of a concentration on the technical skills behind ‘Mastering the judging process’.
Communication Director’s Report
By Dennis Mitchell, Communication Director
The Communications Directorate (CD) manages communications with members through periodic email newsletters, front-page website posts and social media activity. We also respond to general inquiries to the organization from prospective judges, the media or those wishing to use our guidelines for various purposes. Other areas of responsibility include overseeing elections, member badge orders and the member merchandise store.
We recently added John Lawless, Certified judge from Nashville TN, as an Assistant Communications Director to handle a variety of ad hoc projects including some project management for the website, handling basic website updates, member PW resets/account issues, triaging incoming general emails, moderating social media, etc. John has a diverse work history that includes both IT and customer service roles that I think will make him a good fit for helping out with the many oddball tasks the communications directorate handles. John joins ACDs Toby Guidry and Andrew Luberto. Toby manages BJCP badge orders and the merchandise store. Andrew serves as the main BJCP newsletter editor and edited the annual report.
The main method of communications between the BJCP and members is email. Automated emails are sent regarding exam scores and promotions (that automation is handled by IT), and the CD oversees emails of periodic newsletters or major organizational news. Newsletters are emailed approximately quarterly to all active judges. We sent three newsletters in 2021; email open rates ranged from 43-53 percent while click-through rates improved from prior years to 13-22 percent.
CALL FOR NEWSLETTER HELP! If you are interested in writing an article for the newsletter, please contact Assistant Communication Director Andrew Luberto. We can offer non-judging points for submissions.
Past BJCP Bulletin Newsletters
The CD worked with the IT directorate to wrap up the migration to the new website, which was completed in 2021. We are also leading efforts to evaluate the content on the website and improve the information architecture. Responsibility for maintaining the website is shared between IT, the CD and the other directorates that manage their own content. Even though we recently launched our new website, the infrastructure and design is unfortunately already outdated due to the long delays in getting it up and running. We are in discussions for a minor web refresh using more modern mobile-friendly design. We are also working with a member to develop an official BJCP phone application that will contain the style guidelines and, eventually, other features such as a judge login.
Other Member Communication
In addition to newsletters, the CD triages emails sent to the general organizational emails such as info @ BJCP.org, as well as emails from members with account login difficulties like lost passwords or forgotten BJCP ID numbers. About half of those emails were related to account access issues (forgotten passwords or IDs). Other common email topics include questions about ordering a name badge or new pin, asking for permissions to use the BJCP guidelines, asking how to become a judge, or those wishing to provide feedback to the BJCP on various topics.
In addition to email, the CD oversees the BJCP social media platforms as well as a member forum. The BJCP Facebook page continues to be a frequent means of communications between members and with non-members asking BJCP-related questions, and the group surpassed the 6,500 member mark in 2021. Frequent topics include where certain beers should be entered in a competition and discussions about BJCP processes.
The BJCP Twitter (@BJCP_Official) receives periodic questions and mentions and has grown to over 3,000 followers. We were not highly active on this platform in 2021 but hope to use the time of new communications staff to provide a greater presence. We are currently working with the IT Directorate to transition to a new member-only forum on the new website and archive the old forum, which is now considered defunct.
The new badge vendor we partnered with in 2020 has continued to work well and provide dependable service. We do continue to see some shipping problems related to COVID, and other problems related to undependable international shipping, with many international badges getting lost in transit. If you ordered a badge in 2020 but did not receive one, please reach out to Toby. If you need a badge, visit the badge page for more info.
BJCP Logo Merchandise
We maintain a BJCP member store with a wide selection of BJCP logo merchandise through an embroidery-on-demand store hosted by Queensboro Embroidery. This shop offers many products, including work shirts (Red Kap brand), polos, T-shirts, jackets, dress shirts, sweatshirts and bags/backpacks. Clothing is available in both men’s and women’s cuts and a variety of colors and brands. Queensboro also offers international shipping, so our members outside the US can order BJCP logo merchandise. To access the store, members can visit the Merchandise page. Order volume remains relatively low.
IT Director’s Report
By Bruce Buerger, IT Director
Overall the transition of duties has gone very well and I’d like to thank Gordon Strong and James Golovich for their efforts.
The focus had largely been aimed at keeping the lights on kind of activities while mapping some of our business processes. Currently we are in the process of replacing our legacy single user database system with a new web based system. Efforts to date include discussing the high level architecture and drafting a change management plan for implementing the new solution. Additional information and details will be provided at the BJCP members meeting at the National Homebrewers Conference in June.
By Al Boyce, BJCP Finance Director
Brian Cooper, BJCP Treasurer
In 2021, in a continuing COVID-fraught environment, the BJCP brought in more than $10,000 than we did in 2020, though still almost $36,000 less than we did in 2019 – pre-COVID. Still, we spent only 63% of what was budgeted, so there was no need to dip into reserves to meet program expenses.
EXAMS: 102 exams were scheduled for 2021 (compared to 163 scheduled for 2020), 39 of those exams were canceled (compared to 73 canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020.)
COMPETITIONS: 517 competitions were scheduled for 2021 (compared to 558 for 2020), with only 3 refunds (102 were refunded in 2020.)
Overall, $56,283.37 of $57,635.87 budgeted. 97.65% of the estimate.
($1.352.50 less income than expected.)
- Exam Fees. $16,632.00 of $16,000.00 budgeted. 103.95% of estimate. This is slightly more than 2020, but still over $13,000 less than 2019. 46% of registered exams in 2021 were non-US – 3% more than 2020.
- Contest Certification fees. Brought in $15,255.00 in 2021 of $13,500.00 in the budget – $6,000 more than 2020, but still over $8,000 less than 2020. 113% of estimate. 43.2% of competitions are non-US now – 5% more than 2020.
- Merchandise receipts. Brought in 0, budgeted 0. We used to sell replacement pins. D. PayPal Interest. PayPal hasn’t paid interest for a few years.
- Misc Income. $45.00 of $500.00 budgeted. 9% of estimate. One payment from the AHA for Web Banner advertising on our site for AHA members.
- Returned Checks. This didn’t occur in 2021.
- Savings Account. $411.37 of $835.87 budgeted. 49.21% of estimate. Interest from our Money Market interest savings account.
- WRS Reimbursement. Payments from Bill Slack. Received 0.
- Siebel Flavor kits. $4.550.00 of $4.800.00 budgeted. 94.79% of estimate. J. Online exams. $19,390.00 of $22.000.00 budgeted. 88.14% of estimate. K. Grader Incentive Program. $0 of $0 budgeted. This is the AHA’s contribution to this
program – and they postponed this program in 2020 and it remained postponed in 2021. L. BJCP/AHA Reception at Homebrew Con. Event was cancelled. $0 of $0 budgeted.
Overall, $38,079.55 of $59,492.00 budgeted. We spent 64.01% of our budget, 67.66% of actual income.
- AHA/SCP Fee. $0. The AHA doesn’t charge us for this any longer.
- BJCP Grants $374.95 of $1,000 budgeted. 37.5% of estimate.
- Continuing Education. Spent $931.00 of $3,300.00 budgeted. 28.21% of estimate. 4. Legal Fees. Spent $2,250.00 of $0 budgeted. Fees for protection of BJCP trademarks. 5. Merchandise. Spent $3,506.47 of $5,000.00 budgeted. 70.13% of estimate. This is for Name Badges. This is 6% of our total BJCP budget.
- Miscellaneous. Spent $0 of $600.00 budgeted.
- Office Supplies. Spent $303.12 of $500 budgeted. 60.62% of estimate. 8. PayPal Fees. Spent $1,619.88 of $1500 budgeted. 44.19% of estimate. 9. PO Box rental and mail forwarding. $0 of $792.00 budgeted. Purchased a 3-year rental in 2020, so no payment required in 2021.
- Postage. Spent $500.00 of $2,200.00 budgeted. 22.73% of estimate. 11. Printing. Spent 0, 0 budgeted. “DropBox” distribution of exams and online distribution of certificates have mostly eliminated this category.
- Recognition. Spent 0 of $1,000 budgeted.
- Exam Program. Spent $219.88 of $3,500.00 budgeted. 6.28% of estimate. 14. Shipping – merchandise. Spent 0, budgeted 0. Shipping for name badges and Siebel Kits are combined in their own categories.
- Surety Bond. Spent 0, budgeted $0. We paid for three years at a time when we last paid this.
- Telephone. Spent 0, budgeted 0.
- Website and Domain renewal. Spent $1,671.12 of $1.000.00 budgeted. 167.11% of estimate.
- Savings Account. Spent 0, budgeted 0.
- Siebel Flavor Kits. Spent $5,936.10 of budget of $8,500.00. 69.84% of estimate. 20. Online Exam Fees. Spent $6,489.40 of $6,000.00 budgeted. 108.16% of estimate. 21. Proctor Travel Expenses. Spent $4,890.72 of $7,500 budgeted. 65.21% of estimate. 22. Rep Travel Expenses. Spent $1,200.80 of $3,200.00 budgeted. 37.53% of estimate. 23. NHC Staff Travel Expenses. Spent $0 of $0 budgeted. NHC was held virtually last year.
- AHA/BJCP Judge Reception. Spent $0 of $300 budgeted. The actual reception didn’t happen. In 2020, $300 was spent to set up an all-member Zoom meeting – this didn’t occur either in 2021.
- Admin/Grader Reimbursement. Spent $4,334.83 of $6,100.00 budgeted. 71.06% of estimate.
- Exam Translations. Spent $3,782.49 of $7,500.00 budgeted. 50.43% of estimate.
Three items were over budget:
8. PayPal Fees.
17. Website and Domain Renewal. Software licenses made up most of this. The IT infrastructure now also incurs some monthly service charges.
20.Online Exam Fees.
We have $224,024.33 in our Capital One money market savings account. It started the year at $213,612.96. $10,000 was transferred from checking into savings in September.