As I prepare this morning to judge a few rounds at competition I started thinking about why I decided to become a beer judge. I’m sure everyone else has their own motivations, but for me I was fairly new to homebrewing, had joined a homebrew club a short while before, and was acting as a steward on a flight of Belgian beers. At the time I knew little about beer styles, just that I loved most of them. I had made a Belgian Witbier and the style guidelines had been revised and I was unsure what category to enter. I chose correctly with some guidance, but was confused about the whole thing so when they sat me as a steward I did not realize my Belgian Witbier was going to be in the flight. This beer was a kit from Grape and Granary in Akron, Ohio and it was a darn nice beer. The judges on the flight were experienced and soon after one of them earned a Master ranking. As the flight progressed they came to the Belgian Witbiers and I started to sweat. I was not supposed to be sitting there while they judged my beer and certainly not supposed to interact with them. For that reason I kept my trap shut. There were four Wits in the comp and mine, the extract batch, scored a respectable 37 and bested the other three. As it turned out my beer was fourth in the flight and while it did not win a ribbon it stood up to the competition and I was a proud papa. I also knew I wanted to learn how to do what they just did and that set me on the path to become a BJCP judge. When I judged at the next competition I was placed with a Master level judge and even though it was my first competition as a judge I knew I would be taking the BJCP exam as soon as I could. I did and my results were good enough to earn a Certified ranking, but in hindsight I needed more training. A few years later I took the full legacy exam again and earned National. After a few more years I took the taste and earned a Master level taste score. Hopefully someday I’ll take the written yet again and get the points I need to be a Master judge, currently I need to up my written score by a point or two to achieve that, but with the recent style guideline update I need to spend time with the new styles.

Find your reason to be the BJCP Judge and take the online and taste exam. You will be glad you did!