Posted to JudgeNet Digest #1253, April 12, 1996, by Scott Bickham, BJCP Exam Director


The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) is an independent non-profit membership organization of beer judges. It was formed in 1985 through the efforts of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and the Home Wine and Beer Trade Association (HWBTA). Over 1500 judges are currently active in the program. The purpose of the BJCP is to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills.


The three-hour BJCP exam is given in two parts: essay and tasting. The essay portion, worth 70 percent of the final score, is designed to determine an individual's overall knowledge of beer and his or her ability to clearly express the information in writing. Essay questions cover the following areas:
The tasting portion of the exam is worth 30 percent of the final score. Each candidate will judge four beers as if he or she were at a homebrew competition. The prospective judge must score the beer and describe all significant aspects of it, as well as comment on style characteristics.


n preparing to become a beer judge you should acquire a broad understanding of beer styles, know different brewing methods and how brewing methods affect style and flavor. Brewing processes should be understood to the point where you can intelligently discuss various techniques and ingredients and how they may have affected the beer being sampled. Frequent tasting of commercial beers will help you gain further understanding of style differences.




Judges vary widely in their skill and experience. As a result, the BJCP recognizes various levels of accomplishment. An individual's level of certification is determined by two factors: exam score and experience points earned through BJCP registered and AHA sanctioned competitions. The different levels and the criteria for achieving them are outlined below.


Because both exam scores and experience points determine the level of recognition achieved in the BJCP, a judge should strive to meet both types of criteria on an ongoing basis. A judge may wish to retake the exam in order to achieve the higher score necessary to advance to the next level. There is a reduced price for participants wishing to retake the BJCP exam. A judge will be placed on an inactive list if no experience points are recorded for two years. After two years on the inactive list, a judge will be dropped from the BJCP roster. This policy encourages judges to maintain their skills and assures competition organizers that they are using experienced judges with up to date knowledge of beer styles and judging practices. Upon certification by the BJCP Committee, the judge receives a handsome certificate showing the date of award and level of recognition. He or she also receives a wallet-size card denoting the same achievement.


Experience points are earned through judging at a competition registered by the BJCP or sanctioned by the AHA. Points are awarded according to the difficulty and responsibility of the task, as well as by the size of the competition. Competition organizers and assistant organizers earn points based on the number of entries.

Number of Entries Organizer Assistant Organizer BoS Judge Judge Steward

*In competitions having 500 or more entries, judges will receive one point for the first session attended and 0.5 points for each subsequent session, with a limit of 1.5 points per calendar day and a total not to exceed 3 points for the event.

For any one competition, points may be awarded to individuals from different categories (i.e. judging, stewarding, BoS or organizing) provided the total points awarded to an individual do not exceed the calendar or event limits for the competition. The organizer may only allocate the organizer and assistant organizer points among staff members in 0.5 point increments. A competition organizer may not submit experience points for more than one best of show judge per 25 entries, with a limit of four best of show judges per event. Experience points are recorded only after the competition organizer has sent a competition report to the sanctioning body, and that report is approved and recorded by the BJCP.


The Beer Judge Certification Program is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven elected representatives of seven regions of North America. This board manages BJCP policy and bylaws. The business of the BJCP is managed by Directors who have different fields of responsibility. They include: Communication with test-takers and BJCP members is handled by a Program Administrator, who also handles outside communications. This position is currently held by Russ Wigglesworth.


Exam administrators are appointed by the Exam Director and earn non-judging experience points according to the schedule below. An additional 0.5 point may be awarded to one BJCP judge who assists in the scoring of the exam beers.

Number of Exam Takers Points Earned
more than 112

The exam delegate may also allocate his points in 0.5 increments to those who helped give the exam.


This booklet outlines bylaws as amended through March, 1996. The names and addresses of individuals in the program are available to organizers of BJCP registered competitions. Discrepancies in experience points, or in participant records can be reported in writing to:

BJCP Program Administrator
c/o Celebrator Beer News, P.O.Box 375, Hayward, CA 94543 (415)502-1070

Requests for scheduling BJCP exams should be made in writing to:

Scott Bickham, BJCP Exam Director
7507 Swan Point Way, Columbia, MD 21045 (410) 290-7721