Beer Judge for Chicago Craft Beer Week

In celebration of Chicago Craft Beer Week which starts off at 3 different places tonight, I’ve decided to become a BJCP certified judge.  Really, it might be a few craft beer weeks before it happens, but Craft Beer Week has made me want to get serious about it. It will take a lot of hard work. It will take a lot studying. It will take a lot of beer drinking (I know, very hard indeed). Then I will have to wait for a BJCP test to come around to my neck of the woods so I don’t have to make a vacation of this test. This won’t be as simple as the Certified Beer Server Exam from the Cicerone Certification Program that I past last month. That one only required me to read up a bit on draught systems and the effects of alcohol. The rest was pretty straight forward for somebody who knows a decent amount about beer.

I found a 75 page study guide for the exam from 2010. Unfortunately, it looks like they changed the exam considerably in April, so its not very useful anymore. From reading the study guide it looks like before april, everybody had to take an essay and tasting section. The essay questions where all known in advance, with the only variable being the beers and styles the question were about.If you got less than 60% you were Apprentice rank, and if you got over 60% you were Recognized rank. Anything higher required experience and judging points and higher scores on the test.

Now it looks like you first have to take the BJCP Beer Judge Exam, which is a web-based exam which an unpublished pool of questions. It is pass and fail. If you pass you are considered provisional. If you fail you can take the test again in two days (and pay the fee again). To become an actual rank you have to take the Beer Judging Exam which is basically a tasting test within a year. Above 60% will get you a recognized rank. There doesn’t seem to be an apprentice rank anymore. There is a written Proficiency exam for those who want to advance to higher ranks. For those higher ranks you average your scores to see if you can advance. This is different than the old way, when the tasting portion was only 30% of the combined score.

Is there anybody who has already gone through this process already (new or old version) that could give me some pointers or tips? I can research it all I want, but practical advice derived from real experience is much more useful.

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