A Beer Judge’s Diary: Of Moving Goalposts and Respecting Our Cousins- Mead and Cider

Written by Ken Carman

Written by Ken Carman
    After a few years moving sideways in the BJCP ranks: getting cider and mead endorsed, I am comfortable. I have no need or desire for National. I really wasn’t all that dedicated to going National in any sense. As I have written before, every time I take the test I learn something.
   That was my goal.
   Most judges I know become what rank they become and are happy to stay there: even if it was the extinct as Dino rank Apprentice. Nothing wrong with that. But I enjoy learning, and every time I took the test I learned more. Technically by now, if things were as one would think, I might be National, but one thing I have noticed is the goalpost keeps being moved.
   I know there will be a lot of resistance to that framing, however I know a few Masters who admit to it. Just to provide one example; and I have no interest in exposing anyone, was one of the first to take the test. That judge admits taking the test he or she would never qualify now.
   In just a few years I took the legacy test I have noticed the questions have multiplied and become more difficult. Plus, the categories keep shifting: new guidelines. Then you have odd concepts like counting the number of (I assume from what I have observed) approved adjectives to change scores. However use “good;” especially a lot, and you may not achieve whatever score you seek. (Be more descriptive: HOW is it “good?” There are words they prefer. Perhaps we need a divining rod to figure out which ones for you newbies?)
   Except for that last little tidbit, mostly as it should, even must to some extent, be.
   The first legacy I took was the easiest, and we all failed. Rumor is the BJCP wasn’t happy with the one of the proctors answers. Each one after seemed tougher. They picked harder categories, demanded more, and if you think I’m complaining I’m not. I think making the test more challenging is a good thing. In fact I wish they had gradations of ranks: Recognized C, B, A, or 1,2,3, for all ranks. That way it would be easier for those who grade to pop a test taker up a little, reward them for wanting to serve the BJCP better.
   Yes, some do this for ego’s sake, but to assume all would be the opposite of why. I think we want to be of more service. Perhaps I am naive’ in that assumption.
   I also think we should be retested every few years: not to take away ranks, but assess if a “pop up” is deserved.
   Goalposts do need to be moved, but rewarding judges who seek to improve should be part of the equation. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Of Moving Goalposts and Respecting Our Cousins- Mead and Cider”


Written by Franz Hofer

We arrived in Murnau to a golden autumn afternoon perfect for wandering through this landscape famed for its light and colours. Since all good beer hikes need a certain beverage to make them what they are, we made straight for the shimmering Staffelsee lake on the edge of town to stock up on electrolytes. Beers from the kiosk in hand, we found a spot on the terrace near a small beach alive with quacking ducks and kids splashing around in the shallows.

The light falls differently here, more vivid and crystalline. Looking out over the cobalt-blue lake reflecting the red and yellow fall foliage, I could see why Expressionist artists in the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) orbit prized the light in this part of the world they called “the blue land.” Wassily Kandinsky and Gabrielle Münter, two of the founders of the Blaue Reiter, were so captivated by the colour palette of the landscape that they moved to Murnau in 1908.

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The bronzed expanse of the Murnauer Moos against the Alps