The answer truly is it depends. If you are a beer hipster and just want to add a notch in your beer utility belt then no, don’t waste your time and the time of those grading your exam. You can be as big a fish and beer ticker was you want on the beer rating sites and apps and that says nothing about your ability to judge in a competition setting. If you only like IPAs or wheat beers then no, you should not judge either. If you cannot take a set of guidelines for any style, read them, and then evaluate the sample in front of you according to those guidelines then you should not judge. Someone else who should think about skipping judging would be the person who feels all IPAs should be West coast or even worse the people who believe that cloudy New England abomination should be the pinnacle of achievement. While appearance only comprises 3 points, never allow appearance to dominate your judging. Use it as a tool to see if other areas are in need of a tweak or fix to better emulate the style being judged. The person who should judge is the homebrewer who is passionate about beer and homebrew and has a desire to learn about styles and how to make the best beer possible. The exam today doesn’t quite ready one for the latter without some self-study unless you are gunning for a higher ranking. The written exam encompasses troubleshooting and recipe formulation which does assist the examinee in their judging skills and suggestions for improvement. So to recap, if you are a homebrewer who is passionate about styles and has a desire to learn study for and take the various BJCP exams. If you are a beer rating ticker than take a pass on it. Once you are a BJCP judge then flex your judging muscle as often as possible by judging. The more you judge the better you will become at conveying what you sense to the entrant. If you achieve a higher ranking then become involved by grading exams or volunteering for other duties such as articles for the newsletter. There is nothing worse than the judge who rarely judges and never does anything but complain. Don’t be that person, be the person people admire for their judging abilities.

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