All Are Welcome in the BJCP

by Gordon Strong, BJCP President

I recently had a conversation with a BJCP judge who was interested in the BJCP’s position on diversity as part of a general assessment of the craft beer industry. I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of my comments with the organization as a whole, just so everyone understands our values.

First, our background:

  • The BJCP has a non-discrimination clause in our bylaws (section 2.7).
  • The BJCP is incorporated as an IRS rule 501(c)(7) non-profit social club, and is recognized as tax-exempt under IRS rule 501(c)(3); these also have binding legal implications.
  • The BJCP does not track age, gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other common demographics in its data systems.
  • Our purpose, as stated in our articles of incorporation, is to certify individuals as competent evaluators of beer and certifying competitions in which beer is judged.

The membership of the BJCP is reflective of the general population of beer enthusiasts, brewers, and judges who are interested and motivated to join. We don’t actively recruit membership; we offer information, educational resources, and assistance to those who are interested, and apply fair and consistent standards to evaluate performance regardless of demographic group membership.

Our only interest is in the demonstrated ability of individuals to judge beer. If you can do that well, we are happy to have you as a member. All are welcome. We have codes of conduct for judging, and those include treating others with respect. We have rules for exams and competitions, including evaluating without bias. We offer no preferential treatment for any group, as we purposefully do not collect information upon which we could possibly be biased.

As with others, we notice deficiencies in diversity within the broader craft beer and brewing community. We don’t decide who chooses to belong to that community, yet it is from this group that we draw most of our members. We are not aligned specifically with craft beer – traditional beer styles are just as important to us. We are not about commercialization; our roots are in the homebrewing community. 

But we recognize that we have influence and reach beyond our traditional foundations. Therefore, I call upon all BJCP judges to be mindful of overt and indirect discrimination, and to promote inclusivity at all BJCP events and when acting in the capacity as a BJCP judge. Those who witness these problems within the ranks are encouraged to politely remind fellow judges of our principles, and to behave in ways the reflect positively upon our organization. Lead by example.

If issues aren’t resolvable at your local level, please contact your regional representative or assistant representative for assistance. You can find us on the Officers page on the BJCP web site.

The BJCP is about recognizing judging ability, period. BJCP members may come from many backgrounds, but we are all fellow judges and are worthy of respect. All are welcome in the BJCP.