On February 2 I finally got word that I had passed the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) tasting exam that I took back on October 25. I am now a Recognized BJCP judge!
I celebrated my success by immediately volunteering to judge in a few competitions. I’ll need 5 judging points to advance to the next BJCP rank, which is Certified. I’m already partway there because I’ve judged on two prior occasions. Generally, a day’s worth of judging (morning and afternoon sessions) is worth one point.
Last Saturday CFL and I were up verrrry early to drive to Tacoma to judge (and in CFL’s case to steward) at a competition being held on a military base. The competition organizer met us at the gate to sign us onto the base, then treated us to a tour of a C-17 before we began judging at 9:00.
Drinking beer at 9:00 AM sounds very odd (and not particularly inviting) on the face of it. Especially so because I was judging strong ales–big beers that I would not want to gulp at any time of day. However, I quickly found that I was able to assess and describe the beers I was judging based only on big sniffs and tiny sips. Three of the six beers that I judged were perfectly lovely examples of the category, and thoroughly enjoyable to sniff and sip! The other three weren’t bad, just not quite as good. I held up fine all through the morning and began the afternoon eager to taste more beers.
Then I got assigned to judge American Amber Ales in the afternoon. Frankly, the best Amber out there is “meh” as far as I’m concerned–just sort of middle of the road on malt and hop flavor, well balanced and inherently bland. I and my co-judge had to taste and evaluate 11 of these beers. There were no clear standouts, nor any really awful beers. By the end of the day my taste buds were rather fatigued and I was struggling to come up with fresh adjectives to describe what I was tasting.
Still it was an enjoyable and educational day overall. I’ve now earned 3 judging points. I’ve got my next two competitions lined up and I should be promoted to Certified by April.
After that, I expect to remain at that rank for the foreseeable future. To advance to National rank, I’ll have to re-take the tasting exam and score above 80 (I scored a tantalizingly close 77 on my first exam), and pass a written exam that will make everything I’ve done so far seem easy. I’m in no hurry to do all that!
It is nice, though, to have a genuine credential in the world of beer geekdom. And now you’ll know that the next time you see me drinking a beer, it will be for the purpose research and evaluation.
Mostly. Also for enjoyment.