First off, let me state that I am not BJCP certified. I’ve been through some guided tastings and I have a long way to go, but I wanted to share some thoughts on what I’ve found helpful when judging beers.
Use a pencil or erasable pen for all judging sheets.
Most important: each beer must be approached in a calm, analytical state of mind.
- You might think you recognize the beer, but you have to convince yourself you do not
- This is especially true if you know the brewer of the beer (or think you do)
- Describe the experience of tasting the beer
Do not start out with giving a score for each section
- Write down what you can observe for each section
- Use words with definite meaning, stay away from generic turns like “complex” unless you expand on them afterward
- Describe what your senses tell you, without making guesses about what could be causing the sensations
- Don’t worry about how what you are experiencing fits into the style guideline yet
Make sure you look at the prompting words on the sheet to see if you recognize any of those characteristics in the beer.
Once you have filled in all the sensory sections, then go back and look at how your observations fit within the guidelines for the style you are judging.
- Fill in your score based on your impressions for each category.
- Add up your total score, then look at the scoring guide to see if your score matches up with the categories:
- Very Good
- Be ready to adjust your score, either up or down as appropriate
- I find myself tending to give higher than appropriate scores and have to adjust the bulk of my scores down to fit within the guidelines
Try to be polite and honest with your feedback. If you have to give negative feedback, try to phrase it in a way that is helpful and does not tear down the skills of the brewer.
I am helping coordinate a fun homebrewing competition called Iron Brewer. Learn more and register here: http://www.superbrewers.com/iron-brewer-competition/