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Old 12-20-2011, 03:25 PM   #1
Jan 2011
Bethlehem, PA
Posts: 233
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So, as of 2 days ago I was notified that I am attending a BJCP course starting January 7th. I'm super excited! The class is full enough for them to have a waiting list, and only the top 12 students get to sit for the exam (quizzes will be given weekly, and top scorers overall get to sit). The competition is a little scary, but I'm pretty confident - I've always tested well.

The part I'm most nervous about is the tasting portion - I can usually say whether or not something is good or bad, but I have never had such a discerning palette to say "I taste boysenberries, wet grass, peat, with hints of vanilla and clove" or things you hear professionals say. I'm hoping they're not expecting that sort of an analysis.

So, any advice from BJCP certified folks on what to expect or things to improve my chances? I went on their website and got all of the PDF materials, and have printed them to study ahead of time. I'm also re-reading Palmer's How to Brew.

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:31 PM   #2
Bensiff's Avatar
Mar 2008
, Washington, the state
Posts: 4,944
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I've read up on it pretty solidly, but never taken any actual coursework as I don't have enough free time for such endeavors...maybe someday.

But, when it comes to tasting remember it is subjective. When someone says they taste certain flavors they are not saying they taste an actual ingredient just hints of a flavor they are familiar with (obviously sometimes you do taste the actual ingredient as some folks toss in boysenberries, vanilla, or cloves into a brew). If you are really worried about this I would get Zymurgy and go to the calibration sections and buy the beers and taste them while reading that section so you get the benefit of a pro walking you through a tasting. I've done enough wine tastings that I have figured it out somewhat well, it takes time and practice, but once you have it its not too scary.

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:51 PM   #3
Dec 2008
Yankee Hill, CA
Posts: 1,541
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I took a course this year, and it was a lot of fun. It turned into more of a Beer Appreciation class than anything for me. But it did give me the confidence to volunteer for some judging, since I felt like I could give some good feedback on the scoresheets. I'll most likely take the course again next year and do the exam this time. Sounds like your class might be a little on the big side, but hopefully your sessions will be long enough that you can have good discussions about the beers you're tasting. IMO that's where you learn the most.

Congrats and Enjoy!
Kegged: NADA
Bottled: Blackberry Mead
Primary #1:IPA
Primary #2:
On Deck: Pilsener, Brown, Barleywine, Coffee Porter

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:57 PM   #4
EdWort's Avatar
Jul 2006
Bee Cave, Texas
Posts: 11,912
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Originally Posted by msarro View Post
So, any advice from BJCP certified folks on what to expect or things to improve my chances? I went on their website and got all of the PDF materials, and have printed them to study ahead of time. I'm also re-reading Palmer's How to Brew.
Read Read Read, Study Study Study.

Flash cards help.

Also try to sample the classic examples for each style. Having a pallet for the styles will help in the exam.

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Old 12-20-2011, 05:54 PM   #5
Apr 2011
Chino, CA
Posts: 296
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How would one find out about a local class?
Bottled: Udder Nonsense Milk Stout, Off Your Rocker Cider
Keg #1: Udder Nonsense Milk Stout
Keg #2: Explosive IPA
Keg #3: Explosive IPA
Keg #4: Nothing
Fermenting: Nothing
Next On Deck: Maibock?
Brewed in 2012: 65 gallons
Brewed in 2013: 55 gallons
Brewed in 2014: 25 gallons

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Old 12-20-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
GoNova's Avatar
Sep 2008
Posts: 125
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I took this exact class at Keystone last year. Andy Hejl (national - soon to be master - BJCP judge) teaches it and is GREAT. Just like anything else, you will only benefit as much as you are willing to invest. If you simply show up to class, you will learn a little and may or may not make the cut to sit for the BJCP exam. I studied for hours each week for the weekly quizzes. It paid off as I learned a TON and I easily passed the BJCP exam.

The great thing about the class is that you taste beers EVERY week (in addition to the lectures). Andy walks you through what you are tasting and what ingredients/processes/errors are causing the taste. In order to score well on the BJCP exam you MUST be able to taste a beer and then correctly evaluate the beer and make ingredient/process recommendations how how to improve the beer. Even with all the training in the course, I didn't do well on this portion of the BJCP exam. It's tough and requires lots of practice to really refine those skills.

My recommendation is to take the class very seriously. If you do, you will learn a ton and make you a better brewer. My goal was to increase my knowledge and become a better brewer. Passing the BJCP exam was just a bonus.

Cheers and good luck! Let me know if you need any other advice.

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