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.