I think it’s fair to say that I would eventually have gotten the itch to get a BJCP certification. But it was that November 2016 BYO Boot Camp with Gordon Strong that really kicked off this journey.
In retrospect, it was only natural that he would encourage me to go seek my certification. But at the time it was flattering and just the kick I needed.
When I got around to it, a few months later, I naïvely thought that I could just sign up for an exam and be done in no time. But then I saw how few and far between the exams were. And how literally far away most of them were. And that they were all full more/less from the start.
Luckily, in April of 2017, a friend pointed out to me that our homebrew club was starting a study group, and that we could sign up early for the May 2018 exam. I got right on that. The journey was a long one.
The black one is all the “practice” scoresheets I’ve filled out. One hundred thirty-four of them, less the ones that were part of competitions and got returned to the entrants.
The green one is a printed copy of the 2015 BJCP style guide. I’ve read each of the entries for each classic style at least four times. Many of them five or more times. Each one has been highlighted and annotated.
One time I bought twenty different malts and ate them raw to get a more intimate sense of the ingredients.
We drank more than 140 different beers, commercial and homebrew, across at least 85 of the 92 classic styles.
A couple weeks ago, as the exam date started to draw near, I start quizzing myself. I would write down everything I could about a given style from memory, then check it against what was printed in the style guide.
In less than twenty-four hours, I will put down my pencil after scoring six beers in ninety minutes. No study guide to help me. Today I’ve been working “flash card style” through as many of the classic styles as I can. Pull a style code. Name it. Roll dice and have to describe some sensory characteristic about it, or else name characteristic ingredients or compare it to different styles.
Wish me luck.
About Rob FrieselSoftware engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →
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