Beer Judge Training & Study Program

Original document by Amanda Burkemper, Edited by Bruce Buerger.


This program structure is designed to help empower existing BJCP Members to conduct study sessions for existing members or potential new members seeking to become Beer Judges. It is also structured to help the participant become more comfortable with beer judging, as well as promote good judging practices. Existing homebrewers not seeking to become a judge but looking to better their brews will also benefit. It should be considered as a starting point and should be modified to meet the needs of the participants that will be going through the program.

If desired these programs can be used as the basis for a ETD-Approved Course by the Education Liaison. Please be sure to review the ETD Course Submission and Approval Process and Point Award Outline well ahead of conducting any courses.

Program Description

The objective of this program is to provide an example of a set of courses aimed at preparing for the BJCP Beer Entrance and Judging Exams. It is designed to organize the necessary information, prepare one for taking the exams, and prepare one for judging in a BJCP sanctioned competition. It is outside of the scope of this guide to detail exactly what one may need to study or do in order to do well on the BJCP Judging Exam. Additionally this guide can be used for self-directed study.


The BJCP website provides a study guide and outlines the material, along with a list of recommended readings. Relevant reference materials are noted throughout this guide.

Program Course Layout

The program is laid out in the following courses:

This program can also be administered to a group in multiple sessions. For example, one session for Part 1, one for Parts 2 & 3, and one session for Part 4. Depending on the audience and time constraints further breakdown or combinations may be required. Parts can also be dismissed if needed. For example, some may wish to host a program solely based on passing the Judging Exam and not not address items needed for passing the Online Entrance Exam. In that case it would be better to focus on parts 1 through 4 which are more Judging Exam focused. 

BJCP Beer Style Studying

Throughout each of the course parts or sessions participants should review and sample the styles outlined in the BJCP Beer Style Guidelines. The following is an outline that can be modified to suit course needs along with a few items that should be taken into consideration when planning the course offering.

  • Select similar styles & group together.
  • Study one group of styles during each of the sessions.
  • Suggested style groupings by BJCP Category for six sessions:
  • 1-5
  • 6-9
  • 10-13
  • 14-17
  • 18-22
  • 23-26
  • Note only the specific styles listed under 21B: Specialty IPA are allowed for the Beer Judging Exam. Future expansion styles that may be popular but are not specifically listed in the BJCP style guide can be entered into competitions, but they are not allowed to be used as samples for the Beer Judging Exam. There is a Specialty IPA Clarifications and Q&A newsletter article that would be useful for discussion around this topic.
  • Note that some classic examples may be more readily available during certain times of the year. Depending on the beer style and the time of year when the course is offered it may be advantageous to acquire samples ahead of time. This could be used to demonstrate the properties of a classic style as well as the positive and negative impacts of aging on a classic style.
  • Review the Overall Impression, Ingredients, and Style Comparison sections on each and discuss with others.
  • Note that those seeking National and Master level scores will require more than general style knowledge. For these participants consider additional emphasis on comparing / contrasting styles, style history, ingredients, and processes.
  • Whenever possible purchase Classic Examples outlined in the guideline.
  • Publish the styles to be reviewed during each session as early as possible in order to give participants time to review prior to the session. Also encourage participants to review the styles to be covered in order to bring questions and engage in a healthy discussion.
  • Taste these examples and fill out scoresheets.
  • Review the scoresheets and grade them against the BJCP Exam Scoring Guide.

Note to Organizer

If the BJCP Sensory Kit is to be a part of the program offering please be sure to allow for enough time (six to eight weeks) for ordering and shipping.