While the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has long recognized mead in its style guidelines and competition materials, it has not been a subject covered by the BJCP Exam. Anyone wanting to judge mead would just indicate their desire to a competition organizer; however, the organizer would have no basis for judging the skill or credibility of the judge. The existing BJCP rank structure doesn’t provide much help, either. A high rank indicates that the judge understands how to formally evaluate beer, but doesn’t provide any information about the judge’s knowledge of mead. The Mead Judge certification is designed to fill that gap, and to generally raise the awareness and skill level of those who judge mead.
The BJCP Board approved a proposal to create a Mead Judge Certification in March 2006. A committee was organized to work on the project, with subcommittees of experts in the mead and cider domains. The legacy question pool was finalized and field-tested in 2007, with the exam format determined in early 2008. A pilot mead judge exam was given in August 2008 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Results of that pilot test were then used to adjust the program, and to determine what information was most needed by examinees and graders.
The development of the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines and the need to update the Mead Exam created an opportunity to revise the Mead Exam to conform to the exam techniques used for the Beer Exam since April of 2012. The original Mead Exam is now referred to as the BJCP Legacy Mead Exam and is retired effective on 1 November 2015. After 1 November 2015, the Legacy Mead Exam will never be given.
The revised Mead Exam consists of a both the online BJCP Mead Entrance Examination and the BJCP Mead Judging Examination. To become a Mead Judge one must pass both examinations. The Mead Entrance Exam is very similar to the Beer Entrance Exam in that it uses the same type of questions in a timed online manner. The Mead Judging Exam is similar to the Beer Judging Exam in that it consists of completing six scoresheets in a timed manner. Passing the Mead Entrance Exam is a pre-requisite for taking the Mead Judging Exam. Since there are no ranks associated yet with the Mead Program, there is no current need for a Mead Exam equivalent of the Beer Written Proficiency Examination.