Are the styles used in the judging test random? Can you use the style guide or is it from memory? Is it more about detecting off flavors, or guessing style, or what?
For the judging exam prep I thought I would just order one or two of the commercial examples of each style, at least on the ones I'm less familiar with. Like from craft shack or the like.
Not exactly random, but chosen by the administrator and you won't know ahead of time. No style guides, 15 minutes per beer, you won't have time to read the style guide anyway. The beers will reflect the range of beers in the guide, so they will include light/dark - ales/lagers - there will be some great examples, some OK, some problematic. Actual styles chosen will certainly depend on what the administrator has access to. You will be told what the style is.
Focus on describing the beer. Make sure to hit each keyword listed on the scoresheet under each section. For every
keyword, indicate the level you detect it at (low/medium/high). Never write a range (low-medium hop aroma), they don't like that. Remember that hops have both bitterness and flavor and these are both flavors. Focus on perception (medium citrus/piney hop aroma vs medium American hop aroma). Don't troubleshoot in the first four sections, save that for Overall Impression.
In Overall Impression, describe how you enjoyed the beer and identify 2 characteristics to improve and how to do that. You don't need to hit every problem, but pick the two that you think impacted the score the most. Don't assume anything about ingredients or process, but you can use wiggle words to offer suggestions that may not apply. For example, if the beer should be drier you could write - If mashing, use a lower mash temp, or substitute simple sugar for some malt or extract.
I was venting a little frustration is all
I'll keep at it
I understand. BJCP just increased the number of tests allowed each month. Hopefully that leads to more open slots. I'm also rural and had trouble finding an exam seat.