BJCP Tasting Exam

Evening all,

I’m completing part two of my BJCP certification with the tasting exam this Saturday. I feel prepared, but was curious to know from those that have taken it. Advice? Tips?



The biggest thing I would say, is to describe (really well) WHAT YOU TASTE/SMELL/SEE, not what you think should be there or what you think the proctors might pick up. I’ve taken it twice, scored 76 the second time, 78 the first time (was going for National on the second…then had a baby and my interest in ‘title’ dwindled :mrgreen: ), but the second test was very different, and my first sentence will help you with that…

The administrator totally tricked out some of the beers and it was borderline unfair. He basically took a porter, added cheap vodka, a bunch of other liquids that didn’t belong in there, and expected people to be calibrated against the proctors. Typically they should just add one element for the ‘off’ flavor, but what do I know.

If you want to PM me your email, I have a really good cheat sheet/exam prep guide from a local National judge who is a walking BJCP wikipedia. Great to read through once you’ve done your tasting preparation.

The big thing you can control is how well you describe the beers on your exam. Use the ‘guides’ under each element and make sure to hit each one with ‘how much of’ and ‘what kind of’. For example, under ‘Appearance’:

“Deep Amber beer, slightly opaque, thick rocky off-white head with excellent retention and lacing.” ← that hits each of the things the scoresheet wants you to “comment on”.

What helped me a lot: Scoring: most beers fall into a range from 39-28. Beers with minor technical flaws go from 26-32, beers with more serious faults, or a couple of little faults, go from 20-28. Beers with several serious problems which are very hard to drink go from 14-20. Only a beer which is truly undrinkable gets a score of 13. Only a beer which is truly wonderful gets a score of 40+. (I think “45+ = plan a vacation around it, ~40 = road trip to get it, ~35 = typical craft beer, worth getting if you’re in the area, ~30 = So-so commercial craft beer, worth drinking if you’re at the bar. ~25 = Will finish the pint, won’t get a second one, might send it back. ~20 = Have trouble finishing the pint, will send it back if you can. ~15 = Have trouble drinking more than a few sips, definitely send it back or leave it unfinished. Rinse your mouth out afterwards. 13 = Smell it, gag a bit, decide not to drink it. Consider using it as weed killer.”)

It sounds like you have done your homework, so just make sure to go in with confidence and you will do fine. The only other thing I would suggest is making sure you have simulated the exam and written timed scoresheets. Bonus for having someone pour you a blind beer.

I finished my first exam, came home, and sat on the couch with a PBR. And didn’t think once about what I was tasting :mrgreen:

Sound advice! The detailed aspect of responses is right on target with what I’ve heard. I’ve been preparing since May with a small group of guys who are also taking the exam. We’ve met once a week and tried beers from every style, particularly those on the BJCP list. About a month ago we started tasting beers blind and filling out scoresheets with a time limit of 15 minutes. I feel prepared, but there are a few styles I’m not 100% confident with! I’ll pm you my email address!

Indeed, my biggest piece of advice: Get a lot of practice writing scoresheets as fast as possible. Even the best tasters can have a real hard time meeting the timed exam requirement. Both times I’ve taken the exam, I was really scrambling to get all the beers judged and written down in time. Practice being both very descriptive AND very fast! Then you’ll be successful!

Update: Ended up getting my “Certified” status. A great score coupled with previous judging points. Thanks to all that have helped!

welcome aboard! Nice work-