Author Topic: Last minute BJCP  (Read 1019 times)

Offline mpietropaoli

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Last minute BJCP
« on: February 22, 2013, 09:10:23 AM »
So I am taking my tasting exam on Sunday for BJCP.  6 beers, 1.5 hours.  I have been filling out no less than 5 scoresheets per week, sometimes under test conditions, sometimes not.  My exam coordinator was kind enough to look at a few of my scoresheets and gave me some of the following feedback:
 
-one thing he mentioned was to never give a ‘range’ in the comments, which makes sense for flavor/aroma/mouthfeel, but I think it can be appropriate for color.  Ie “dark hay to medium gold”??  Not having an SRM guide next to me during the test, is it worth taking a shot and being more vague with a range?  Or should I just take a stand and say the beer is ‘light copper’ or ‘medium amber with ruby highlights’.
-On the overall section, I rarely offered suggestions for improvement.  I can definitely do this, but I’ve scored a few beers, such as Muncher Edelstoff Helles, where I literally have no suggestions on how to make it better (I scored @ a 45).  I feel like this is also risky business, as “consider increasing the amount of roast malt” (for a American Stout, FX stout, or RIS, eg) or “consider a yeast or higher fermentation temp that will yield more esters” (for a too-clean ESB or premium bitter) are presumptuous.
-Finally, where is a good place to mention the ‘balance’ of the beer (ie toward hops, malt, or ‘even’ in the case of a well-made premium bitter or something)?  I’m guessing in “overall impression”?  I didn’t always mention the balance, and it was something he mentioned in his feedback. 
 
Any last-minute advice would be appreciated!  Another potential gap I saw was in some of the nuance of styles and my scores not matching up.  For instance, I mentioned a “rich noble hop flavor with carmelized malt” in an Oktoberfest I judged, but didn’t take off points for high hop flavor.  I am at a point with all the styles where I could describe them in a few words to someone with no knowledge, and tell if a beer is miscategorized, but I can definitely miss some of the finer nuances. 
 
Wish me luck!  My goal is to get above 80 so I can take the written exam later this year…which sounds like a beast of a beast.
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
Cellaring: Biere de Mars; Flanders
Planned: Schwarz

Offline denny

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 09:44:48 AM »
I always put comments about balance in the flavor section.  IIRC, the scoresheet even specifies that.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 10:49:59 AM »
I always put comments about balance in the flavor section.  IIRC, the scoresheet even specifies that.
This would be correct.
I tend to describe colors as you do, like "brilliant straw gold" or "slightly hazy light amber" for examples.
It sounds like you will do fine.  I organized one of these tasting tests in December and found that most people had plenty of time to completely fill the score sheets.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Offline udubdawg

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 10:57:48 AM »
in the case of a beer with a big flaw like a bad infection, make sure you talk about something other than the infection.  Maybe you can't taste the Munich Dunkel under the brett, but the graders need to know that you know the style.  Don't say "malt hidden by infection."  Somewhere you need to say what it SHOULD be.  "The infection is hiding the (X,Y,Z components) that define this style."

use good descriptive words.  "Malty" is not enough.  What does it taste like?  The scoresheet has those nice reminders under Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel, so be sure to describe them all, even if the level is zero.  if a style often has hints of something like sulfur or DMS, I'll comment on whether it is there or not.

you won't have the exact same opinion that the proctors had of all 6 beers, and that's OK.  Back up what you say with specifics - if you find a beer to be astringent, saying "check your sparge temps" doesn't tell the grader that you really know your stuff.  Perhaps the proctors were fairly blind to diacetyl while you are very sensitive - show that you know how to address it.

good luck--
--Michael

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2013, 11:29:52 AM »
The scoresheet has those nice reminders under Aroma, Appearance, Flavor, Mouthfeel, so be sure to describe them all, even if the level is zero.  if a style often has hints of something like sulfur or DMS, I'll comment on whether it is there or not.
One of the preparation guides says to treat the style guideline descriptors as a rubric, so this advice is very correct. If the style says "No DMS" and you don't detect DMS, write that down. Only part of your score is determined by how much you agree with the proctors. Part is determined by quality and completeness, so even if you're wrong - you'll still gain those points.
The biggest difference I've seen in scoresheets of new vs experience judges is that new judges write complete sentences while experienced judges keep it short with just a character and descriptor - No DMS, citrusy hops, etc. This will let you fit more comments into the space too.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2013, 08:05:15 PM »
You should not give a range for anything - describe the color, it will not be “dark hay to medium gold”, it will be dark hay, or medium gold, or sunrise straw, or some other description.  In other words, if the beer is medium yellow you would not say it is light yellow to dark yellow.  Say what it is.

For suggestions, don't say things like “consider increasing the amount of roast malt” but feel free to say it needs more roast malt character to better fit the guidelines.  There are a number of ways to increase the perception of roast in a beer, adding more roast malt is just one of them.  Tell them the destination, let them pick the route.

And has been mentioned, balance is in the flavor.  You can mention it again in the overall if you like, but it should be noted in the flavor.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline mpietropaoli

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 02:17:44 PM »
Dang.  Missed diacetyl on a schwartzbier.  Otherwise I think I gave very full, complete answers and picked out what I should have. 

As tom petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

Thanks to all for the advice!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 02:19:54 PM by mpietropaoli »
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
Cellaring: Biere de Mars; Flanders
Planned: Schwarz

Offline wactuary

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Re: Last minute BJCP
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 04:06:44 PM »
Good luck!