Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

By Ken Carman

The Topic: The BJCP Exam

Last September I took the BJCP exam again. For those unfamiliar, this is the exam that ranks beer judges. I’ve heard the uninitiated joke and make fun, thinking this is something straight out of one of my least favorite movies: “Beerfest.” Oh, I can see the humor; I just think “Beerfest” is one vast dump on a very serious endeavor: filled with cliche’s and misconceptions. One would think from watching “Beerfest” all beer related events are guzzling affairs attended by alcoholic nincompoops.

That’s just the opposite of the actual process of judging beer where one often assesses color, clarity, head, aroma long before the brew gets to touch the lips. Then mouthfeel is assessed before swallowing. It is, like any form of judging, a deliberative process. Samples are small and pouring more from the same bottle is unnecessary and even discouraged by some some highly ranked judges, unless necessary. The second bottle is not to be opened unless there’s something about the first that demands it be opened.

The test itself has a well deserved reputation of being harder than some engineering exams and those who grade it being exceedingly tough. It’s a well deserved reputation. The majority of your grade is culled from the written part, a far lesser part is drawn from a blind judging of beer samples. I think this is backwards. A beer judge who doesn’t know the various BJCP beer categories by heart can simply use the guidelines when they judge. They are given a copy. But a judge without refined taste buds is a poor judge indeed.
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2010 Label Winners at Brew Your Own

One of the many winners and honorable mentions. This one by homebrewer Brandon Jones

There are lots of ways to show the world the greatness of your homebrews, but a well-made label is king. Whether it is a simple, hand-drawn design or a computer-generated logo, A beer label is your homebrew’s first impression on potential drinkers. This year, as in years past, we received many, many original, thoughtful and funny homemade designs for our annual Label contest. In fact, if we didn’t know better we could have sworn some of this year’s labels were fresh off of a commercial bottling line, thus proving that homebrewers are not only an industrious bunch, they are also endlessly creative.

For winning entries, please click