Category Archives: BJCP

BJCP Written Exam Experience 1

Alternative Title – How to Score above 80 with limited preparation time 🙂

Flash back 7-8 months and I had just gotten back my tasting exam results which were greatly improved from my first go at it and got me to where I needed to be National.  I have 15 judging points and I normally earn about 5 judging points a year so I’m within striking distance of the 20 I need for National.  So, the one other hurdle is getting the score I need on the written to get above the 80 tasting + written average needed.  I scored an 87 on the tasting so a 73 (72 really since they seem to round up) is all I needed.  Of course I had visions of 92 so I never have to take another exam ever, ever, ever again 🙂  Prior to that I had gotten an email about a written exam only 30 mins from my house so I had tentatively signed up for it with the understanding I wasn’t confirmed until I got my score back.  So, when got by my 87 I confirmed my spot and got to work studying for the written.  There was one hitch – I had less then a month to get ready.  So, a bit of a cram session but I gave it a go.  So, I’ll go through how I prepared for the exam and the results.

My preparation started with getting basic details on the exam and what I should be studying.  It became immediately apparent that there is a lot more information out there on the Judging (aka Tasting) exam then there is on the Written Proficiency Exam and a lot of the material I found was old and outdated (pre-2012 when we went from Legacy to the current structure).  So here is what I found helpful:

BJCP Exam Structure:  This document goes through all the various different historic and current exams, the different judging levels and what is required from those exams to get to each level.  Very good to know  so you understand what your goals are.  Also, you can see the requirements.  To take the written you must have 10 judging experience points and >= 80 on the Judging / Tasting Exam.  You also learn that the test is 20 true/false and 5 essay.

BJCP Beer Exam Study Guide: This guide has changed since I took my Written since the 2015 style guide was not the standard at that point.

Under the “BJCP Beer Judge Written Proficiency Examination” section you will first find the pool of questions that the above mentioned 20 true/false question.  I just printed these up and ran through them till I knew them cold and then refreshed on them right before the exam and that seemed to work well.

Under the “The Essay Portion of the Written Proficiency Examination” you will find the pool of questions that the 5 “essays” will be pulled from.

My understanding is the 2 of the 5 will always be S0 (compare three styles).  1 of the 5 will always be T14 (recipe).  The other 2 will come from the remaining “T” questions.  This certainly was true with my exam and is backed up by a statement by Gordon Strong on the BJCP Forums.

At first glance, it doesn’t look too bad since it is only a handful of questions.  The problem is that with a lot of the questions there are a ton of different style combinations or sub-options that leads to a pretty vast array of possible essays.

The biggest offender is S0 ie compare and contrast 3 styles.  As you can see there are now 109 possible three way combinations.  Yow!  Since each essay should be about 2 pages, to complete prepare you would have 218 pages of answers to come up with.  Not really, since styles are repeated, but you get the idea.  So, since I only had a few weeks to prepare, I just spent time refreshing on each of the styles so I felt comfortable going through the 4 sub-questions for each style.  But I have been an avid competition homebrewer for many years and I have brewed most of the styles so I already have a good level of comfort – I just needed to focus more on the technical specifics so I could write an accurate technical description and comparison.  I struggled a bit with this on the actual exam but considering my prep time I feel pretty good about it.  I think with more time flashcards might be a better approach so you can really beat them into your cortex 🙂

For the recipe I used Thomas Barnes’ (see next document) math rather than try to fully memorize recipes to get my numbers right.  I also lucked out since I had brewed all of the styles that can be asked and the one I got (German Pilsner) is one of the easier ones.  I also have written my own brewing software and just brewed a lot in general so the process of coming up with recipes and brewing are second nature.  But even with all the math worked out, you still would want to be sure you know the technical details for all the styles that can be covered as well as what your grain and hop bill and yeast selection would look like as well as your process.  If you have brewed that style of something similar it is pretty easy.  If not, some more work will be required.

There are a fair number of “T” questions so I just went through all of them and made sure I was comfortable with all the questions and where I wasn’t I dug into my brewing library and got comfortable.

Thomas Barnes Cheat Sheet:  I did go through all the questions on my own and I used a lot of my hard earned knowledge to answer questions but when cramming the last week for this exam I kept going back to Thomas’ document.  Really, really great and highly recommended that you know this backwards and forward.  There is other useful items on his website but this sheet I found to be essential and probably got me at least 10 more points on my exam.

And that is really it!  Like I said, there is a ton of material out there but a lot of it is outdated or I didn’t find that helpful.

Here is my written exam:


and here is my Report to Participant (RTP) so you can see how I was graded:


I scored an 84 (yeah!) so I’m now where I need to be to be National, I just need a few more Judging Points.  To get to Master I need  to up my game on the Written exam but I feel like I’m close and I just need some refinement especially around some of the styles.  It’ll be years before I have the number of points for Master so no rush there.  I hope you found this helpful!


BJCP Judging ( Tasting ) Exam Experience 2

Since my first Judging / Tasting Exam score wasn’t what I wanted (71), I immediately signed up for another go at it.  That was about a year ago so I have gotten my second scores back (87 – yeah!) (I took the exam in January and got my Scores in June -> 5 month turn around) and I have had some time to reflect on things so I thought I would share my experiences with those preparing for this exam.

I’ll start by reiterating that, even though it is not and really can’t be perfect, the Judging / Tasting exam is very well designed and run.  There are two goals >> train judges to score similarly and to properly fill out a scoresheet with the obvious outcome of proper, fair results in a competition and entrants getting back excellent scoresheets so they can get the independent, blind feedback they need to improve their beers.  Of course, in order to do these two things you have to have a very solid knowledge of the various different styles but also you have to be able to competently assess and describe your sensory perceptions of a beer using a common, clear lexicon.  This is exactly what this exam tests.  In essence, it is a mock-up of you judging at a competition and then comparing how you scored and wrote-up your beers compared to two national or higher ranked proctors.  Could anyone come up with some viable tweeks to the grading system.  Sure. But someone else could come up with a perfectly good argument for why to keep it the same.  Is it possible that the proctors incorrectly scored or misperceived aspects of a beer.  Of course.  But if we need to get judges scoring in the same zone as each other, I can’t really think of a better way to do it.  So, now having been ear deep in the exam for a couple of years I still feel very good about the process as a whole and I would recommend to anyone who is serious about improving their beer, improving their friends beers, improving their own beer drinking experience and giving back to the homebrewing community that putting in the time and effort on this exam is well worth it.

You can read my first experience here and I’m not going to completely rehash what I’ve already said but I will pass along advice that I hope will be helpful and at the bottom I’ll post my (redacted 🙂 ) exams so hopefully you can learn from my efforts and results.

Advice for Studying for BJCP Judging Exam (aka Tasting Exam):

1> Know the Styles Cold

For the Judging Exam there isn’t a lot of value in knowing the technical details around a beer style (OG, FG, IBUs etc…) since you couldn’t perceive if a beer was 1 Plato high or low anyway and  you wouldn’t say – 35 IBUs – on your scoresheet.  But what you should know cold for every style is what are at least two (see the template in 5> to see why two)  primary descriptors for each section (Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel and Overall Impression) as well as what flaws are acceptable and what are absolutely not acceptable.  So if you are served a Saison you should know:

Aroma – fruity esters, peppery phenolics, noble/english hops
Appearance – pale to dark.  big fluffy head.  visible bubbles
Flavor – fruity esters, peppery phenolics, noble/english hops, very dry, moderate to high bitterness
Mouthfeel – very high carbonation
OI – fruity, peppery, moderately bitter, very dry, very effervescent

Of course it’s better to know every detail cold since you need that for the written exam anyway but you should know the above level of detail at a minimum and you really want to know the levels for those primary descriptors.  For example, if you get served a beer with no fruity esters as a Saison that has to be mentioned and it has to be accounted for in your score.

Along with this, sit down and do a scoresheet for as many commercial examples of these styles as you can.  Its hard to get a lot of them based on where you live but it will help immensely.  It is critical to be able to tie what the words in the BJCP guide say to what it actually smells, tastes, looks and feels like.  I picked 1-2 categories each week and went to my local bottle shops and got examples and over the course of a few months I knocked them all out.   I also met with a local group of judges and did the same.   Keep in mind a lot of these beers may be very old so don’t assume that all Milk Stouts taste like cardboard because the one Mackeson’s you had did but once you’ve had a few you should be able to pick up the signal through the noise.

2> Become One with the Flavor Wheel

It is really interesting to me how you can drink the same thing for years but not pick up on certain characteristics but then you map in your mind a flavor or an aroma and then you perceive things you never did before.  I’m a big fan of the flavor wheel since it gives structure to the various different elements of beer, both good and bad, so when you are getting a certain quality it can help you narrow down to what that actually is.

3> Learn the Lexicon

And to take 2> one step further, working with the common lexicon allows you to be able to describe a quality using language that other beer judges and brewers will understand.  On top of the descriptors as covered in the flavor wheel, it is key to have a solid set of level descriptors.  It will not go well if you just label everything low, medium, high.  I built a list of synonyms and practiced using them in scoresheets so that they just became a natural part of my descriptive language.  for example, for low you might use soft, faint, gentle, muted or subdued instead.  it allows you to more accurately describe what you are perceiving.  To me, soft describes a gentle desirable quality whereas low may come across more negative.

4> Become the Grader

Read and become one with the grading guide.  How often have you taken a test in your life and known exactly how you were going to be graded?  If you don’t fully understand this guide you really are doing yourself a huge disservice.

5> Use a Repeatable Format

First off a huge Thank You to the proctor for my 2nd exam – Richard Lane.  I can’t say enough good things about Richard and all the help he provided to myself and the other exam takers.  He has a lot of good information on his website but I think the most helpful to me was his scoresheet template and example.  His template gives you a way to systematically and repeatably fill out your scoresheets in the way that will be most positively scored by graders since it matches up with their scoring guidelines.  This template IS PURE GOLD!  I cannot recommend strongly enough that you fill out every scoresheet in this manner.  For my first exam, I didn’t have this template and you can see that a lot of the points I lost were not because my perceptions were wrong but because I didn’t lay them out in the way they wanted.  Of course, you still have to assess and describe the beer properly but this template will help eliminate losing points due to not meeting the graders “completeness” expectations.  So your score will directly reflect how you did at scoring the beer and how accurate your perceptions were and not be negatively impacted due to incomplete or improperly formatted responses.

6>  Don’t just say something, do something

If you mention any flaws in a beer, make sure you give at least one or two good ways to address that flaw.  Also, when you give a flaw, don’t act as if you know something about the beer that you have no way of knowing.  It is silly to say – “use more Mosaic hops” when you have no idea what type of hops were used.  Stick with what you know for certain which is what you perceive and assume you know zilch about their process and ingredients.

My exam:

First off, let me tell you about the beers that we received.  Here is a visual breakdown:


1> Helles – It was an undoctored homebrew and a pretty good one!
2> Witbier – undoctored homebrew
3> Brown Porter – a blend of a bunch of different homebrews.  this is the one beer i was really off on.  I scored it a 30.  there was a strong licorice character that i attributed to brown malt but was actually a weird phenolic.  oops!
4> American IPA – blend of homebrew and lagunitas
5> Dunkel – commercial version from OMB (where we took the exam so I think it was pretty fresh 🙂
6> Weizenbock – undoctored hombebrew

I was within 7 for 5 of 6 and within 3 for 4 of 6.  the one that got me was the Brown Porter and I picked up on the phenol, I just misjudged where it was coming from and that it was too much for style.  So, all in all I’m very happy with my scoring and perception.

Here is my exam as submitted for grading:


And here is my Report to Participant (RTP):


So what are my takeaways?  I feel really, really good about how I did on the exam the 2nd time and I think I scored well enough that I don’t need to take it ever again.  I have not heard of anyone scoring higher than 90 (I’m sure it has happened) so I think if I need to make 90 for Master (not National yet so getting a bit ahead of myself) I’ll make up the difference on the Written.

I don’t think I would change anything with how I prepared.  I think the above advice is exactly where I would spend my time getting prepared if I were to do it again.  Understand how you will be graded and focus your attention there.  Fill out lots of scoresheets but do it using the template until it becomes second nature and you don’t even need to reference it.  Make sure you are intimately familiar with at least one commercial example for every style and preferably as many as you can get your hands on.  Use the flavor wheel descriptors and a variety of level terms as you fill out score sheets so you are totally comfortable with all 360 degrees of the flavor wheel and a broad swath of level terms.  If someone gives you a style, you should be able to rattle off the primary descriptors for aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression without hesitation.  And as I mentioned in my first write-up, don’t think about the beer being doctored or not, homebrew or commercial or anything else.  Judge what is in front of you.  Don’t go flaw hunting.  And after your first smell and sip I would write down the score that first comes to mind.  I’m sure others do what I do.  I come up with a score, I second guess and I start coming up with reasons to move it one way or another.  And 90% of the time I should have stuck with my gut instinct.

I hope this write-up was helpful and Best of Luck!!!

BJCP Judging ( Tasting ) Exam Experience 1

I had a hard time finding any write-ups on other people’s real world experiences of preparing for and taking the BJCP Judging Exam ( aka BJCP Tasting Exam ) so I figured I might as well put my experience out there for people preparing to take the exam.  Take it all with a grain of salt – I obviously in no way represent the BJCP on these matters and these are just my own thoughts on the BJCP certification process and judging in general.   The first half is a lengthy rant on my experience preparing for the exam and the second half is the real meat where I discuss how I prepared for and the results from my exam.


First, some background.  I started homebrewing about 4 years ago and have been entering beers in competitions for about 3 of those.  I’m not totally sure where I first got the bug to get BJCP certified except that a lot of homebrewers I have a lot of respect for recommended it.  Initially my goals were to develop my palate so I could more critically assess my own beers and to get the opportunity to formally judge other brewer’s beers hoping I could both learn from it as well as do something positive for the community at large.

A lot of my expectations and initial understanding of how beer judging works were totally wrong and have dramatically changed as I’ve gone through the process of getting certified.  When I first got started, I had some interesting ideas on beer judging.  As an engineer by trade, I sometimes fool myself into thinking that real world processes can be perfect.  That somehow, through super secret underground training regimes certified beer judges have uber palates and can definitively discern the difference between a 31 and 32 point beer.  And when I first started entering homebrew competitions, I thought if I entered a beer in many competitions it would get very similar scores each time.  It was only after entering many beers, many times with wildly divergent scores (20 this week, 44 next week – really) and judging at competitions with other judges and being 10 points apart and having to figure out a common ground that I realized how incredibly wrong I was.

So, a lot of the initial value I saw in entering beer in competition and judging was blown-out of the water.  I started to feel a bit disillusioned and I still feel like the whole process is flawed for one big reason: preference.  Every judge has different preferences and no matter how hard you train yourself to judge by style and technical merit, at the end of the day if you don’t like munich malt or citra hops or a hint of DMS in your lager then you just aren’t going to score those beers as high.  I don’t think any judging program can fix that since we are human and having preferences is in our nature.  And if they weren’t, we would all go to the store and buy the single 50 point beer that put all the others out of business.

That said, I think the BJCP program and it’s current certification program are very well setup and really do drive judges towards two key goals that should be top of mind while preparing for the exam:

1) Scoring within 7 points of other judges

2) Properly filling out a scoresheet

Scoring accurately is self explanatory but getting in the zone is hard.  More on that later.  Properly filling out a scoresheet also sounds easy but there is a lot involved. Being able to evaluate a beer and properly perceive the level and qualities of the aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel.  Properly describing what you’re perceiving using a common language.  Having a firm grasp on the style guideline so you can properly ascertain if the beer is to style and if not where it misses the mark.  Knowing enough about flaws and brewing procedures to provide accurate feedback on how to correct any perceived issues.

And it’s not perfect.  Sometimes I’ll judge and never have to adjust a score and sometimes I feel like I’m having to adjust every score because the other judge and I are so far apart.  Heck, on my exam the two proctors were ten points apart on a fresh from the store, commercial example beer.  And these were two very experienced national level judges!  We are all human.  It happens.  But with more training and experience, it happens less and less.  Also, I’ll often judge with certified or national level judges who will repeatedly tell me they are looking for a certain quality in a beer – more chocolate in a dusseldorf alt, more roasted barley in a northern english brown, more caramel in a DIPA – that are fine at very low levels but certainly shouldn’t stand out or be something you are looking for.  Maybe after judging for many years, people forget to look at the style guidelines or we all begin to think we know something cold and forget that everybody needs a refresher now and again.

But after finally taking the exam and getting my scores back – although not as high as I wanted – I realized that the exam really was quite good and did push me directly towards it’s two goals.  I only scored half my beers within 7 points of my proctors and so I got dinged for it.  And I should have.  I didn’t comment on every aspect of each section of the scoresheet and used imprecise language and so I got dinged.  And I should have.  So, even with a bit of disillusionment with beer judging in general, when I look back and see how much I have gained it seems silly to be in any way upset.  I can now pick-up off flavors and aromas in beers that two years ago I’m sure I perceived but had no idea what I was perceiving and how to describe it.  I now really get what all eighty beer styles are supposed to be like and can easily tell when a beer just isn’t quite right and why.  And I am now very confident in my ability to score properly and fill out a scoresheet that I would be very happy getting back from a competition.  And I guess that is really the point.  I want to be a part of the judging community so that when someone takes months to brew a beer, ferment it, cellar it, package it and then pay money and somehow get it to the competition that they know it was properly evaluated and that the feedback that they get back is accurate and useful.  Because when I enter competitions, that is what I want.

Over time, my reasons for judging have definitely shifted.  Before it was mostly for personal gain – learning how to critically assess beers – namely mine.  Now it is more for the community.  I’m not a perfect Beer Judge, but if I don’t judge then it is more likely that a local bartender who “drinks a lot of damn good beer”, a local brewer who puts an average of 10 words per scoresheet or just some club members friend ends up judging your or my beer.  That’s not critical, expert analysis and feedback.  That’s just a waste of a lot of time and $6.  I do see a lot of value in having competitions where your beer can be properly judged and be compared to your peers and given props when you’ve done a great job and you can get totally independent feedback on any issues and some ways to maybe fix those issues.  And if I see value in that and I want there to continue to be good competitions, then it is incumbent on me to do my utmost to be the best judge I can be and to participate.


I had a really hard time getting signed up for an exam.  I had four exams within a three hour drive but all were full and my only option was the waiting list.  So, I got on a few of those and finally got confirmed for an exam about 9 months out.  Of course, the week before a bunch of earlier exams I would get the email saying that they had a last minute opening but I stuck with the one I was confirmed for.  So, that gave me 9 months of prep time.  In those 9 months I made sure I had read every book on the recommended reading list (page 3 of, that I had had at least one commercial example of every beer style and I had critically assessed it and that I judged as much as possible which was maybe 3 different competitions.

In retrospect, I think the most important of all was sitting down with examples of each style and really making sure I got the style and what they meant by each of the descriptors.  My process was to get as many commercial examples as I could find and then with each one I would read the style guide, then judge each beer the same I would in a competition –  scoresheet and all – and then reread the style guide while going through my scoresheet.  I also got together with a local group of other people training for the same exam and we would go through a similar process but without scoresheets.  I think the scoresheets would have been good even for that scenario in retrospect.  The other thing I had been working on since I started brewing was brewing all 80 styles.  I’m about halfway through now but that has been an enormous benefit.  There are just so many different ingredients and brewing techniques that until you have actually used them it is hard to perceive the impact and describe how to fix any issues or praise a job well done.   So, lesson #1:

Critically judge multiple commercial examples for each style

One thing I did wrong in preparing was searching the internet for info 🙂  In all seriousness, I had read some posts from people saying they had been given doctored beers. This really made an impression on me and hung in the back of my mind the whole lead up to and during the actual taking of the exam.  And on two beers, it caused me to be way off from the proctors.  That leads me to lesson #2:

Judge the beers the same way you would normally

Even if the beers are doctored (which none of mine were – wish I had known that ahead of time!), don’t forget one key fact – the two proctors are judging these blind the same way you are and how they judge the beer is what matters.  So just judge as you normally would and don’t go hunting for some doctored defect.  For me, I had heard sometimes beers are watered down so even though my doppelbock was a commercial example that is on the low end of the spectrum it was still to style.  And in a normal competition I would have scored it in the mid to high 30s rather than the high 20s and been within range.  For the sweet stout, I was convinced they had given us a purposely low-sweetness beer when in fact it was just the least sweet of the commercial examples for that style and I had never had it.  My impression of a sweet stout was Mackesons which is WAY sweeter than American versions.

Another lesson learned was to keep in mind how your exam is being scored.  The basics are for each beer there are 100 points and there are 20 points for each of the following – scoring accuracy, perception, descriptive ability, feedback and completeness. There are two national level or higher judges out there who get a couple proctor score sheets and your score sheets.  They don’t have the beer.  With this huge limitation they are going to score the following way:

1) how many points are you off from the proctors average – goal is within 7 and the closer the more points you get

2) pick out some key perception aspects of each beer from the proctors score sheets and see if you hit those aspects – for example grainy malt aroma, low diacetyl, high carbonation etc…  These would be items that stand-out about the beer.

3) KEY ITEM: make sure you have level and description for each item listed below the section header.  For example, on a scoresheet you see Aroma and below that it says “comment on malt, hops, esters and other aromatics”.  For each of those they will look to see that you gave a level “medium malt” and a description “grainy, biscuity”.  Make sure you cover ALL of them this way.

4) accurate and useful feedback.  if you point out flaws or style misses you should give ways to fix the issue and they should be technically accurate and not TOO specific.  keep in mind, you don’t know anything about how this beer was made.  So saying to use fresher extract would be silly.  Or more amarillo hops.  How do you know they used extract or amarillo hops.  No matter how amazing you think you are at perceiving extract twang or tangerine hop aromatics, you don’t know how the beer was made so don’t comment as if you do.

5) kind of a gimme – everything should be filled out and should be legible.  white space = bad.

I will say that even if I was seemingly good on 2-5 but my score was off by more than 7 points that everything else suffered score-wise.  So, even though it appears that you can do well with inaccurate scoring (it’s only 20% right!) that is not the case.  In the scoring guide it states you need to have 3 correctly scored beers to be in the 70s, 4 to be in the 80s and 5 to be in the 90s  So don’t think you can be way off on scoring and still do well.  Which brings me to lesson #3:

Read the Scoring Guide (

Reading the Exam Guide is pretty obvious, but it never crossed my mind to read the Scoring Guide and understanding how you are going to be scored is pretty key 🙂  And by reading the Scoring guide you can see how focused things are on the two goals I laid out above.  They are really trying to make sure that the body of BJCP judges score within a reasonable range of each other and can fill out a killer scoresheet that any entrant would be happy paying an entry fee to get.

So now on to my actual exam.  The six beers I had were German Pilsner, Weizen, Dusseldorf Alt, Tripel, Doppelbock and Sweet Stout.  I felt pretty good since I had brewed four of these styles and was very familiar with commercial examples of each.  Kind of sucked for anyone who didn’t like German Style beers!

Here is my overall summary:


First up is the German Pilsner:

My scoresheet:


RTP (Report to Participant – in case you hadn’t noticed the BJCP TLA use level is FUBAR):


Comments: Seems that I’m either really sensitive to Acetyldehyde or I was just wrong.  Then again it says the judges picked up “low apple flavor” so maybe I was right and it was an oversight on the scorer.   Learned that specific descriptors are better than vague statements – ½” head or medium head rather than good head.   I definitely over used the term good throughout the exam.  For some reason my scorers were very into bubble size.  Seems silly to me but duly noted.Weizen:

My scoresheet:




Comments:  The main thing I learned from this beer is a beer has to be truly terrible to be in the teens.  I can still taste this beer in my mind.  It was really, really bad but I guess not bad enough to warrant a 15 cause it must have been scored by the proctors in the mid-20s or higher.  It had no head, undercarbonated, crystal clear, ester/phenol profile was off and it has a distinct sour note throughout the flavor.  so it pretty much missed all the key style markers and on top of that had a unpleasant off-flavor.  I really think this was too generously scored by the proctors but oh well.  The main issue with my scoresheet is I didn’t comment on all items which is a consistent theme and definitely something I will be focusing on.Dusseldorf Alt:

My scoresheet:




Comments:  More of the same.  I didn’t give level and description for everything listed for each section.  Forgot that if I point out a flaw I need to give recommendations on how to fix it.  Appears my score was right on.Tripel:

My scoresheet:




Comments: This beer was just god awful.  I’d rather purge it from my memory.  Not sure what it is with me and sour notes but maybe I need some calibrating there.  Also made the same mistake of pointing out a flaw but not describing how to fix it.Doppelbock:

My scoresheet:




Comments:  This was my first of two commercial example beers that are on the low end of the style in some regards but certainly too style and I was convinced they had been doctored.  My gut told me this was a high 30s beer but I was convinced there was supposed to be a style flaw so I then told myself I couldn’t go higher than high twenties.  Lesson learned: go with your gut.  Other than that, more of the same – I didn’t give level and meaningful descriptors for every “comment” item and fell short on feedback.

Sweet Stout:

My scoresheet:




Comments:  And I think this is where the alcohol started to kick in.  Same story as Doppelbock.  I was convinced this was not sweet enough for the style.  This is mostly because I had only had British commercial examples to that point and they are super sweet.  Oh well.



Comments: By far my biggest takeaways from the exam are:+focus on giving level and meaningful descriptors for every single comment item in each section

+give feedback for every flaw listed

+go with your (trained) gut when scoring.  At this point, I know what a 15, 25, 35 and 45 point beer is and shouldn’t get too hung up in trying to find doctored beers or other silliness to find reasons to score in a certain range.

The whole process was very professionally run and even if I don’t totally agree with everything said the scoring was very thorough and overall very well done and, too bad for me, a fair score was given (a hard fought 71 🙂 ).  I hope anyone reading this finds it helpful.  And yes, you won’t get your score for a long time.  Just forget about it and one day it will show up in the mail.  If it’s been a year, maybe you should email someone.