BJCP Score Sheet - Commercial Beers

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hockeygreg44

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BJCP Scoresheet Question
Im looking to start to study for the BJCP and one way I want to do this, other than the study material, is to sample plenty of commercial beers and fill out the BJCP Scoresheet. Does anyone know where I could find an archive of commercial examples to see if I am picking up on the same things as other?
Also, any other study tips or recommendations for the certification?
 

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I know that Zymurgy has (had?) in their issues some of the highest ranking judges judging a commercial example and showing all of their comments and scores. They usually had a panel of three for each beer, called something like "Commercial calibration". Otherwise, I don't know of any specific ones.

If you look at the BJCP guidelines, they have several commercial examples of each style- but that doesn't help with the specific descriptions that they would give.
 

Qhrumphf

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There was at one point a list of sheets Gordon had filled out for a bunch of classic examples buried deep on the old BJCP site. I don't rememeber where to find it or know if it got carried over to the new site, but it was helpful for me when I was first training for the judging exam.

That said, you have to factor in handling differences when doing something like that. Unless you're tasting the same bottle as someone else, it can be starkly different. If your bottle is a different age (or if said brewery had a bad run and one had higher TPO than the other even if they're similarly aged), even without off flavors one could be simply duller than the other.
 

bkboiler

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TLDR: Honestly, the best way to calibrate your palate will be to participate in a tasting where a proctor artificially infuses some beers with off flavors and you try to detect them. Homebrew clubs host these occasionally.

----

If that's not available to you then at bare minimum, I'd start by going to a nearby brewery and picking a few beers off their sheet of different styles (try to pick ones that are brewed "to style", not "shock-factor" or innovative brews).
That will help calibrate you to a set of equipment and likely one or two brewers.
As an aside,
In my opinion this is a more relevant vertical than like in wine, since most beers don't age...
A horizontal in beer in my opinion would be like the "Black is Beautiful" where all the brewer's made the same recipe, and you could taste what the difference in process /equipment makes...

For your next stage, I'd go to your local bottle shop and find some fresh domestic bottles of something more uncommon style wise.
Then after that, try to maybe find some of the same styles from import breweries. This one's tough as some beers aren't treated very nice as they are transported.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Does anyone know where I could find an archive of commercial examples to see if I am picking up on the same things as other?
This sounds like a great idea. Especially in the current age of COVID where it is harder to get study groups together in person (hopefully soon!).

I have considered BJCP myself and recently watched:

At one point the speakers says how great the Zymurgy "Commercial Calibration" articles were. It seems that they stopped them a year or so ago. I saw a thread on another forum saying how great it would be if there was an index of the beers tasted, but it does not seem to exist. The AHA/Zymurgy search engine makes it fairly clunky to find the articles and many of them are for beers I have never heard of.
 
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hockeygreg44

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There was at one point a list of sheets Gordon had filled out for a bunch of classic examples buried deep on the old BJCP site. I don't rememeber where to find it or know if it got carried over to the new site, but it was helpful for me when I was first training for the judging exam.

That said, you have to factor in handling differences when doing something like that. Unless you're tasting the same bottle as someone else, it can be starkly different. If your bottle is a different age (or if said brewery had a bad run and one had higher TPO than the other even if they're similarly aged), even without off flavors one could be simply duller than the other.
This might be what you were talking about? I had someone from a FB group just send me this.

 

Qhrumphf

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TLDR: Honestly, the best way to calibrate your palate will be to participate in a tasting where a proctor artificially infuses some beers with off flavors and you try to detect them. Homebrew clubs host these occasionally.

----

If that's not available to you then at bare minimum, I'd start by going to a nearby brewery and picking a few beers off their sheet of different styles (try to pick ones that are brewed "to style", not "shock-factor" or innovative brews).
That will help calibrate you to a set of equipment and likely one or two brewers.
As an aside,
In my opinion this is a more relevant vertical than like in wine, since most beers don't age...
A horizontal in beer in my opinion would be like the "Black is Beautiful" where all the brewer's made the same recipe, and you could taste what the difference in process /equipment makes...

For your next stage, I'd go to your local bottle shop and find some fresh domestic bottles of something more uncommon style wise.
Then after that, try to maybe find some of the same styles from import breweries. This one's tough as some beers aren't treated very nice as they are transported.
+1

Filling out sheets is a good thing to do, but it's more valuable for practice filling out the sheet correctly and broader style knowledge than for calibrating/training your palate. It's got some utility there, but limited.

For actual sensory training, doctored beers are good (especially for zeroing in on your threshold for a given compound). But some things don't actually present the same in a spike setting as they do in the wild, or often don't appear in isolation. Better is real world experience with real world beer- actually judging is the best, alongside a quality judge with a proven palate.
 
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hockeygreg44

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Yep. That's the one. As I said though, be mindful that you're not tasting the same sample.
Yes noted. I have to give them a look over this weekend when I have more time. In the mean time, I guess ill just start to sample beer....shucks!
 

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(another note, those are based of the previous iteration of the style guidelines)
Not even a single NEIPA to be found...geez!

That looks like it could be a great resource. At a minimum it would give me an excuse to drink beer...errr...to expand my knowledge.

On one hand I need to be better at identifying flaws, but I also need to better be able to recognize and describe positive flavors. Stuff beyond just "bready", "hoppy" or "sweet".

I note that PBR got a 45! And I used to make fun of my step mother!!! ;)
 

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Other big thing I noticed when I started tasting was my predisposition to want to fix the beer or recommend changes to the brewer's practices, often based on the false assumption that I KNEW how they made it.

A piece of advice I received was: when filling out score sheets, just comment on what *I* detect in the beer...just go based on the apparent outcomes in the beer and compare with what's appropriate to the style. Don't try to necessarily prescribe or articulate why you think something happened. But it's okay after the competition to talk with the brewer and listen to their process and recommend changes you might feel will help.
That's the reason I suggested starting off by removing the "process" variable first as you're going on your tasting adventures.
 
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hockeygreg44

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Not even a single NEIPA to be found...geez!

That looks like it could be a great resource. At a minimum it would give me an excuse to drink beer...errr...to expand my knowledge.

On one hand I need to be better at identifying flaws, but I also need to better be able to recognize and describe positive flavors. Stuff beyond just "bready", "hoppy" or "sweet".

I note that PBR got a 45! And I used to make fun of my step mother!!! ;)
Identifying flaws and describing positive items in the beer is what I need to work on as well. That is why I was hoping to find a database with commercial examples of beers that people have tasted. I know I can pick up if the off flavor is really bad, but I do not know what my threshold is for these off flavors. I also wanted to do this to help my brewing process. I plan to now fill out the score sheet when I sample my homebrew and try to be very critical and identify any flaws.

Nothing wrong with PBR for the style. That was our go to beer in college and given the choice of most mass produced beers, I will generally grab that first!
 
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hockeygreg44

hockeygreg44

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Not even a single NEIPA to be found...geez!

That looks like it could be a great resource. At a minimum it would give me an excuse to drink beer...errr...to expand my knowledge.

On one hand I need to be better at identifying flaws, but I also need to better be able to recognize and describe positive flavors. Stuff beyond just "bready", "hoppy" or "sweet".

I note that PBR got a 45! And I used to make fun of my step mother!!! ;)
Also should be noted that I think all these reviews are from 2009? So take that with a grain of malt ;) I am sure that some if not most of these recipes have changed. I am only going to use it as a reference.
 
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