A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Judging Forms

2019 OFBB Judging formA

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
  My apologies for the images. Yes, they’re blurry. I also understand the protosheet at the bottom is smaller. I tried to also include another way to access either one which should be more clear. So since there’s an image problem in this column I’ll try to walk you through this.
  I think I first became fascinated with alternate versions of the BJCP judging form when I judged for Amber Waves of Grain in Niagara Falls: one of the best large competitions I’ve ever judged. Most of my regular readers know I like, and have started, small competitions. It’s a personal preference. But I have a LOT of respect for, and still judge, large competitions. Running big competitions is tough and requires a lot of cooperation and volunteers, not to mention location issues, and AWOG is impressive: a lot of thought and steady improvement has gone into AWOG.
  The AWOG form has a lot more space for writing and a simplicity I enjoy. Yet when Sandy Cockerham first posted the proposed form you see below I thought it a great compromise between the regular form we’ve used for many years and the AHA check off sheet; which I’m guessing regular readers already know my feelings about.
  If the object is speed, but still providing quality feedback: less checks, more of what the judge personally sensed: this is a great form. You have dedicated space for writing on Aroma and Flavor, and a sliding scale to use for important sensory elements under Mouthfeel and Appearance.
  But for my own competition I decided to combine the AWOG sheet with the proposed sheet. What you see above, however, is a slightly revised version of what we used this fall. The major difference is the check offs were up above each assessment before and I thought, after using them, it was a tad visually confusing. So I put them off to the left of Aroma, Appearance etc. I also included something I do like about the AHA check off form: a place for the judge to tell the brewer how much they liked the entry. Mine asks whether they “may finish the glass” up to “buy a six pack.”
  I included more aspects to check off than the proposed form and everything else on a standard form except descriptions of defects. There are check off boxes for defects, but the judge is told descriptions of defects are listed on the back, where I copied the full standard BJCP list of style defects. I told my judges to make sure they do the scales and fill out each section as much as they can. Usually, on the old form, the standard is to fill the space in but there’s so much extra space on my forms I felt cutting judges some slack might be best.
  My advice? If more speed but good judging is your goal the new form is your best bet. If you want a chance for more complete judging and you are less concerned with time use the old form, or something like mine.
  I am willing to revise my form, then PDF it, so anyone can use it without my logo. I do advise putting defects on the back. I always found the descriptions on the front of the standard form just a little inadequate, and they sure take up a lot of space. On the back there’s plenty of room to give the judge a better reminder of what he is commenting on.


A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman, Certified BJCP beer judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who once upon a time thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ available on the east coast in the 60s. Thus the adventure began.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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