Recently there was a topic which appeared in a discussion forum where someone did not pass the BJCP Exam and he was so upset by his failure he resigned from the program. He said he made a 58 and then posted one of his score sheets. I thought it might be useful to go over just where this exam went wrong. Of course this is based on a single sheet instead of the entire set, but it might serve as a tool for others to improve their own score sheets.
Aroma – he really did not say anything. He mentioned 2-row malt and caramel and then the rest is what is not present and blank lines. It was more than likely a German malt character of Vienna or perhaps Munich malt. There is little depth to the comments, basically two comments on malt character and the rest covering nonexistent characteristics.
Appearance – this is pretty good. He docked it a point, perhaps for the haze he noted.
Flavor – this is a bit of a train-wreck. The first talks about the finish, then how the beer is more hop-centric, which happens further back in flavor typically, then he mentions a solvent-like character which was not mentioned in the aroma. Finally he mentions Astringency. The mention of Astringency in the flavor is bad form. Astringency is a sensation, not a flavor, and as such should be mentioned in Mouthfeel if present. So no discussion of hop flavor, or really flavor at all. What the flavor was initially and mid-palate were omitted. All we have is what happened in finish and aftertaste and those comments don’t demonstrate a refined palate.
Mouthfeel – He mentions carbonation, creaminess, and astringency and nothing else. I notice he ticked alcoholic at the side, if it was alcoholic I would expect warming effects from it which should be mentioned here.
Overall Impression – this is really weak. If it were my sheet I would hone in on the haze in appearance, solvent in flavor and astringency in mouthfeel. Of course that is assuming he was correct in picking out those characteristics. Instead he focused on hops and caramel and suggests to watch fermentation temp without any indication what characteristic he was trying to fix. One could assume it was the solvent-like character he picked up on, but it should not be the grader nor the entrant who has to figure that out. The best sheets spell it out.
One of the biggest issues with the sheet is completeness. There are eight lines which have no verbiage on them at all and several of the comments really don’t say much of anything. The score also seems high based on the comments made. If I am given a hazy, solvent, harshly bittered, and astringent Oktoberfest I would expect it to not crest the 20 point mark.
So let’s grade this thing making some assumptions.
Scoring Accuracy he gave it a 29, let’s say it should have been a 20. 9 point variance from the proctors would earn – 10/20
Perception – I have no proctor sheets for comparison, but can tell the perception is pretty weak. Lets go with the lowest passing grade – 12/20
Descriptive Ability – Again very weak, let’s do lowest passing grade – 12/20
Feedback – Very weak, lowest passing grade – 12/20
Completeness – Eight blank lines and some comments which have no real content, lowest passing – 12/20
Add it all up and he should have gotten – 58 which is exactly where he landed on the overall exam according to his comments. (If you want a more detailed analysis of the grading you can check out this document.)
I have little respect for quitters. When most people fall down they get up, brush off the dirt, and try again. This person was so insulted when he didn’t pass he quickly resigned from the program. Ultimately I say good riddance, we really don’t need people like that hanging around dragging the rest of us down.