2015 BJCP Style Guidelines Released

Released last night.

http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php

(Disclaimer: I am a Certified BJCP judge but I had nothing to do with the release, just sharing the information. Comments and inquiries might be best served through the Facebook page, maybe. I assume no personal responsibility for any of the discussions that might develop in the thread below. I reserve the right to point out that Imperial Black IPA is neither shipped to India nor to Russia, nor is it pale in color, and in some cases might not be brewed using an ale yeast.)

I like the new guidelines. The introduction does a good job of describing what the guideline are and are not. I don’t envy the task as there was no way to write them in way that was going to please everyone but they do appear to be a lot more usable for judging and are more in line with where beer styles are at now.

They sure added a lot of new styles and details.

I don’t like a few things, in the little bit I’ve read so far.

In the Munich Helles section:

“Characteristic Ingredients:
Continental Pilsner malt, traditional German Saazer-type hop varieties, clean German lager yeast.”

Ummmm, no, not Saazer type hops. Hallertauer, Spalter, Hersbrucker-type hops, yes. Not hops from the Zatec region.

In Festbier section:

“The taste is mostly of Pils malt, but with slightly toasty hints.”

Who wrote this? Oktoberfest is all about the Munich malts, not Pils.

EDIT: I guess Festbier is different than Oktoberfestbier. I would actually probably want to drink more Festbier, with more of a Pils malt presence, than an Oktoberfestbier with more Munich malt presence. Many of the German amber oktoberfestbiers get a little sweet and definitely not very sessionable.

BJCP wasn’t much interested in anyone’s 2 cents. There was a review and comment period, and they didn’t change much from the original draft.

The whole thing to me just seems unnecessarily bloated and unmanageable.

My biggest gripe is with the “Clone Beer” category. As a judge, I’ll bet 99 beers out of 100, I have never tasted before in my life. So to expect all judges to be able to compare a homebrew to a specific commercial beer is a HUGE crapshoot.

My 2 cents.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]BJCP wasn’t much interested in anyone’s 2 cents. There was a review and comment period, and they didn’t change much from the original draft.

The whole thing to me just seems unnecessarily bloated and unmanageable.

My biggest gripe is with the “Clone Beer” category. As a judge, I’ll bet 99 beers out of 100, I have never tasted before in my life. So to expect all judges to be able to compare a homebrew to a specific commercial beer is a HUGE crapshoot.

My 2 cents.[/quote]
Agreed, Dave. Since I have zero interest in judging beers or entering competitions, they can do what they want!

[quote=“Beersk”]In Festbier section:

“The taste is mostly of Pils malt, but with slightly toasty hints.”

Who wrote this? Oktoberfest is all about the Munich malts, not Pils. [/quote]
Maybe historically, but not these days in Germany. A Germany beer served at a festival is very much like a helles now. Can drink a lot more of those in one session…

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]
My biggest gripe is with the “Clone Beer” category. As a judge, I’ll bet 99 beers out of 100, I have never tasted before in my life. So to expect all judges to be able to compare a homebrew to a specific commercial beer is a HUGE crapshoot.

My 2 cents.[/quote]

I had the same reaction to the British Bitter category, which says it is based on the real ale versions, not the bottled beers exported to the US. How many judges will have had a cask-conditioned version of one of the commercial examples?

It sounds as if they have gone to an “international” perspective on styles, as opposed to a U.S.-based one.

I wonder if that’s justified: what percentage of judges are not American? I’d guess a pretty small percentage. And, even if you happened to be an un-American judge from say, England, that doesn’t mean you would be any more familiar with a German “festbier”, for example, than an American.

[quote=“beermebeavis”]It sounds as if they have gone to an “international” perspective on styles, as opposed to a U.S.-based one.

I wonder if that’s justified: what percentage of judges are not American? I’d guess a pretty small percentage. And, even if you happened to be an un-American judge from say, England, that doesn’t mean you would be any more familiar with a German “festbier”, for example, than an American.[/quote]
I think that the BJCP has by fault become the international standard for both homebrew and craft beers. I’ve entered a few comps here in Finland, and I just label the beers with a piece of tape on the cap with the BJCP style designation (3B, 13F, or whatever) and they know exactly what the beer is suppose to be and how to base the judging.

I have no problem with the former…after all, homebrew judging is precisely the arena for which the guidelines were intended and the only area where they have any real relevance. And even though the list has become unnecessarily bloated (and something of a parody of itself) in recent years, it admittedly still seems to serve it’s original stated purpose well enough (assuming that judges using them are able to remain objective enough…but that’s a whole different discussion).

On the other side of the coin, the trend of invoking the guidelines for commercial beers is becoming something of a joke.
Thankfully, the guidelines do not hold any official or authoritative power; I shudder to think what commercial brewing would become if pro brewers started taking them too seriously.
Fortunately, none of the pro brewers I’ve known personally (as well as brewers I have spoken to informally in my travels) takes the guidelines very seriously with regard to their commercial endeavors.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”][quote=“Beersk”]In Festbier section:

“The taste is mostly of Pils malt, but with slightly toasty hints.”

Who wrote this? Oktoberfest is all about the Munich malts, not Pils. [/quote]
Maybe historically, but not these days in Germany. A Germany beer served at a festival is very much like a helles now. Can drink a lot more of those in one session…[/quote]
Yeah, I realized this was sort of a different style. It actually sounds better and more sessionable to me. I think my next Oktoberfestbier will be more of this Festbier style. I can’t drink much of the amber ones. Only a couple.

I for one think style guidelines have a place. If you are brewing truly artisan beer, whether to sell or drink, great. As long as you have sound processes.

I will say though, the BJCP helped me evolve from a ‘kitchen sink’ brewer who wanted to make a mango-this and a peanut butter-that into a brewer who could (but doesn’t always) NAIL a particular style and make something worthy of purchase.

Now, if I want to make a jasmine-juniper wit, I know how to make a wit first. As Kesuke Miyagi said, “first learn stand, then learn fly”.

I will agree though that these guidelines are as bloated as a beer lover that doesn’t know the alcohol content of barleywine though. AND, to prior points, inaccurate.

One thing I will really critique them for missing the boat on is separating West Coast and East Coast IPAs. Vermont beers in particular have really redefined the east coast style (IMO to have more hop flavor and less pithy bitterness than west coast counterparts).

I was listening to The Brewing Network’s Sunday Session where they do a blind east vs. west coast tasting and I wanted to reach through the radio and strangle them for calling Heady Topper and Sip of Sunshine “sweet”. Bunch of paletteless drunks they are.

[quote][/quote]

Again, how many non-Americans actually are BJCP? If it’s only a very small proportion, again, why bend over backwards for them? I doubt it is more than 10%, yet here we are, focusing on making things more international in perspective. Most judges don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad and taste beers on-site, so it is irrelevant to them (and irresponsible for the BJCP to act as if they are qualified to) speak on the subject of beers they’ve never been exposed to in their native form.

Also, look at the first page of the style guidelines? Gordon Strong. Anything good to do with the new guidelines I will ascribe to him.

My main gripes with the new guidelines are:

  • No hyperlinks on the index and they removed the bookmarks that were in the draft PDF version, so navigation is annoying
  • Increased complexity means that I will likely never be interested in actually going for a certification. Even under the 2008 guidelines, though, I had little interest in taking tests–particularly the written/tasting exam.

Aside from those issues, I think there’s more to like than dislike.

I must be in the minority who likes the increased emphasis on international authenticity–including what they’ve done with the British Bitter category. There are some domestically available import options for all three BB sub-categories. I don’t see a problem using the import bottles for comparison for US based comps. It’s not like anyone will be bringing cask conditioned ales to comps anyway. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s fair enough.

Again, how many non-Americans actually are BJCP? If it’s only a very small proportion, again, why bend over backwards for them? I doubt it is more than 10%, yet here we are, focusing on making things more international in perspective. Most judges don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad and taste beers on-site, so it is irrelevant to them (and irresponsible for the BJCP to act as if they are qualified to) speak on the subject of beers they’ve never been exposed to in their native form.

Also, look at the first page of the style guidelines? Gordon Strong. Anything good to do with the new guidelines I will ascribe to him.[/quote]

Pretty good point about having the beer in it’s native form, but it seems improbable to get judges that have traveled that much. The guidelines are just that - guidelines. They aren’t to be exact or anything.
By that logic, me being a huge German beer fan, I guess most of my opinion is bunk because I haven’t actually been to Germany. The examples we get here are not fresh. I have had the opportunity to have them on draft as well. The flavors are a bit fresher tasting, but not significantly different. I wonder if kegged versions are just as susceptible to staling.

With a quick glance, that is a pretty extensive update. Am I right, the events announce the rules and if they cite 2008 guidelines, that preempts 2015? So there might be more time than we expect to learn and get familiar with them.

To any BJCP judges or exam takers out there – we’ve really got until November 2015 to read and understand them all.

If you don’t plan on ever judging or taking the exam, then no worries.

I might be in the latter boat myself, maybe. I’m Certified but I haven’t judged formally for a few years. I love the old 2008 guidelines and I don’t much care for change. To me, it’s like one of those, “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” kind of things. Were the 2008 guidelines perfect? No. But I really like them better, and they were indisputably easier to use than the new monstrous 2015 version. Personal preference.

Again, how many non-Americans actually are BJCP? If it’s only a very small proportion, again, why bend over backwards for them? I doubt it is more than 10%, yet here we are, focusing on making things more international in perspective. Most judges don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad and taste beers on-site, so it is irrelevant to them (and irresponsible for the BJCP to act as if they are qualified to) speak on the subject of beers they’ve never been exposed to in their native form.

Also, look at the first page of the style guidelines? Gordon Strong. Anything good to do with the new guidelines I will ascribe to him.[/quote]

Pretty good point about having the beer in it’s native form, but it seems improbable to get judges that have traveled that much. The guidelines are just that - guidelines. They aren’t to be exact or anything.
By that logic, me being a huge German beer fan, I guess most of my opinion is bunk because I haven’t actually been to Germany. The examples we get here are not fresh. I have had the opportunity to have them on draft as well. The flavors are a bit fresher tasting, but not significantly different. I wonder if kegged versions are just as susceptible to staling.[/quote]
There are probably a lot more non-Americans than you think that are involved in BJCP. Like I said, it is becoming an international standard, and that’s a good thing. It opens up brewing experiences from different countries and establishes common ways to talk about it.
You should know that 50 years ago, there was very little in the way of homebrew happening anywhere. That changed with the growth of an active home brew culture in Britain, which spread to the US. Now, due to the craft brew revolution and the kinds of standardization from effort like the BJCP guidelines, it is spreading around the world, and encompassing the native styles where they exist.
Beer tourism by the way is a great excuse for travelling.
Beersk, you have to get to Germany, particularly Bavaria. I never liked German beers before I visited there, and was never interested in brewing them. But after a week in Munich, my whole attitude changed. Now many of my brews are German or heavily influenced by German brews.

Doesn’t your certification lapse if you don’t judge at least once a year?