Bjcp beer exam study guide


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Interim Revision of 1998 Study Guide

by Gordon Strong and Steve Piatz

Last Revised: January 2011

This is an Interim Study Guide temporarily replacing the 1998 Study Guide which will undergo a complete update by a

Study Guide Committee upon completion and approval of the new BJCP Judge Exam.

Contributing Authors:

Original document by Edward Wolfe, Scott Bickham, David Houseman, Ginger Wotring, Dave Sapsis, Peter Garofalo, Chuck Hanning.

Revised 2006 by Gordon Strong and Steve Piatz.

Copyright © 1998-2011 by the authors and the BJCP


February 13, 2007 – Clarified the Grand Master ranks on page 4.

March 12, 2007 – Incorporated the 2006 changes to the exam questions, and corrected some water chemistry.

January 31, 2008 – Revised exam admin point schedule, updated recommended reading.

February 8, 2009 – Revised exam director email addresses, corrected web links.

March 27, 2009 – Corrected error misidentifying fructose as a disaccharide, updated and clarified exam question pool.

August 13, 2009 – Corrected tongue taste map inaccuracies, water chemistry errors

September 13, 2009 – Standardized material with mead study guide, bring troubleshooting in agreement with style guidelines

December 19, 2009 – removed the “sub-” notation. Clarified the summary of the exam.

February 15, 2010 – Corrected errors in the water section

July 31, 2010 – Revised comments about the scoring range of beer in competitions

August 7, 2010 – Added new policy on returning exams, added separate page for change log

January 13, 2011 – change the answer to true/false question 8 based on other BJCP documents. Added point allocation details to a number of questions. Clarified comments on using reverse osmosis water.



Recommended Reading 2

Advanced Reading 2


A. The BJCP Guide 3

The BJCP Beer Exam 3

Judging Levels 4

Advancing in the BJCP 4

Experience Points 5


Exam Administration 7

BJCP Administration 8

B. Beer Evaluation and the Judging Process 9

Beer Evaluation 9

Environment 9

Equipment 9

Presentation 9

The Judging Process 10

Notes on Smelling the Beer 12

Notes on Tasting the Beer 13

Notes on Making Comments about Beer 13

Other Considerations 14

References and Additional Reading 15

C. Important BJCP Reference Materials 17

D. The BJCP Exam 18

Overview 18

BJCP Exam Questions 19

Example of a Complete Answer 31

E. BJCP Exam Study Course 32

Guidelines for Doctoring Beers 35


A. Introduction 36


A. Water 38

Alkalinity, pH and Hardness 38

Ions in Brewing 39

Famous Brewing Waters 39

Water Adjustment 40

Further Reading 40

B. Malts and Adjuncts 41

Barley Malt 41

Selection 41

Malting 42

Kilning 42

Other Malted Grains 43

Malt Content 43

Cereal Adjuncts 43

Other Adjuncts 44

Color 44

Further Reading 44

C. Wort Production 45

Mashing 45

Acid Rest 45

Protein Rest 45

Starch Conversion 45

Mash-out 46

Mashing Procedures 46

Lautering 46

Boiling 47

Chilling 48

Further reading 49

D. Hops 50

Introduction 50

History 50

Bitterness from hops 51

First wort hopping 52

Varieties 52

Further Reading 53

E. Yeast and Fermentation 54

Introduction 54

The Yeast Life Cycle 55

Control of Fermentation By-Products 57

References 57

F. Troubleshooting 59

Introduction 59

Acetaldehyde 59

Alcoholic 59

Astringency 59

Bitterness 60

Body 60

Diacetyl 60

DMS 60

Estery/Fruity 61

Grassy 61

Head Retention 61

Husky/Grainy 61

Lightstruck/Skunky 61

Musty 62

Paper/Cardboard 62

Phenolic 62

Sherry-like 62

Solvent-like 62

Sour/Acidic 63

Sulfury/Yeasty 63

Sweet 63

V. About the Authors 64


Since the inception of the BJCP, several tools have been developed to help potential judges study for the exam. The most widely used are the study guides written by Chuck Cox and Greg Walz. The former was assembled in the early 1990s with the help of readers of the Judge Digest and consists of an outline of the information and terminology needed to pass the exam. The latter is a more verbose discussion of ingredients, brewing procedures and flavors as they relate to beer styles and judging. The outline version is valuable because it encourages independent study; however the verbose version was used as the foundation for the first BJCP Study Guide because information could be added and updated without radically changing the presentation format.

This new edition of the BJCP Study Guide was written with a different approach that was motivated by the feedback and performance from those who have used other study guides. Most of these contain information that is outdated, incorrect or irrelevant to the types of questions asked on the exam. For example, a study guide should not be a tutorial on homebrewing, but should summarize the aspects of the brewing process that relate to beer flavors and styles. The information presented here was written by a group of technically proficient judges and brewers and tailored to the actual BJCP exam questions. The backgrounds of these authors are summarized at the end of the guide. The material has also been reviewed by the BJCP Exam Committee to ensure that it is technically correct and understandable. The goal was to prepare a document that is not only valuable in studying for the exam, but concise and complete enough to be used as a judging handbook. In addition, it is essential that this study guide be made freely available to potential judges. It is available for downloading in several formats on the BJCP website (

The study guide begins with a section describing the BJCP and the motivation and mechanics behind the judging process. Also included are links to BJCP scoresheets, a comprehensive list of possible exam questions and an outline of a study course for beer judges. The BJCP style guidelines are introduced and discussed, and links to the guidelines are provided. Other study guides feature more complete style descriptions, but we found that many potential judges relied on that information as their sole reference for information about beer styles. This may be sufficient to pass the exam, but is no substitute for the wealth of information that is found in Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion and The New World Guide to Beer, for example. The last major section of the study guide is a review of technical information about the brewing process and flavors in beer. Although this material was written with the exam questions in mind, it is no substitute for gaining an understanding of the brewing process by reading the references and putting that knowledge to practical use by actually brewing a batch of beer.

We hope that this study guide fulfills its goal of offering a complete, concise and understandable overview of the information needed to pass the exam. We recommend that it be used in conjunction with the following references to gain a complete understanding of beer styles, beer flavors and the brewing process. Good luck!

Note: This guide has been revised to remove obviously outdated material and to update the document with program changes that have been made since 1998. A completely revised study guide will be produced after the current Exam Committee completes the revision to the BJCP Exam.

– Gordon Strong, March 2006.

Recommended Reading

  1. Michael Jackson, Beer Companion (Running Press, Philadelphia, 1997).

  2. Michael Jackson, The New World Guide to Beer (Running Press, Philadelphia, 1988).

  3. John Palmer, How to Brew, (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 2006).

  4. Al Korzonas, Homebrewing: Volume 1 (Sheaf & Vine, Palos Hills, IL, 1997).

  5. Dave Miller, Dave Miller's Homebrewing Guide (Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT 1996).

  6. Gregg Smith, The Beer Enthusiast’s Guide (Storey Communications, Pownal, VT, 1994).

  7. Ray Daniels, Designing Great Beers (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1996).

  8. Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer, Brewing Classic Styles (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 2007).

Advanced Reading

  1. Classic Beer Styles Series, (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO). There are presently seventeen books in this series, plus three additional books on Belgian beer styles: Pale Ale, 2nd Ed. and Porter, both by Terry Foster; Continental Pilsner by David Miller; Lambic by Jean-Xavier Guinard; Vienna, Maerzen, Oktoberfest by George and Laurie Fix; Bock by Darryl Richman; Scotch Ale by Greg Noonan; German Wheat Beer by Eric Warner; Belgian Ale by Pierre Rajotte, Stout by Michael Lewis, Altbier by Horst Dornbusch, and Barleywine by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell, Bavarian Helles by Horst Dornbusch, Brown Ale by Ray Daniels and Jim Parker, Kölsch by Eric Warner, Mild Ale by David Sutula, Smoked Beer by Ray Daniels and Geoffrey Larson, Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski, Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow, Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus.

  2. Gregory J. Noonan, New Brewing Lager Beer (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 2003).

  3. George Fix, Principles of Brewing Science, 2nd Edition (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1999).

  4. George and Laurie Fix, An Analysis of Brewing Techniques, Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1997).

  5. Brewing Techniques (New Wine Press, Eugene, OR). Contains a wealth of information about the ingredients, history and flavors in beer. While no longer being published some articles are available at

  6. Zymurgy Special Issues (Association of Brewers, Boulder, CO). Of particular use are the 1997 issue on Hops, the 1995 issue on Grains, the 1991 issue on Traditional Beer Styles, the 1989 and 1998 issues on Yeast and the 1987 issue on Troubleshooting. Back issues available at

  7. Charlie Papazian, et al, Evaluating Beer (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1993).

  8. Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium (Media Marketing Communications, Antwerp, 2005).

  9. Roger Protz, The Taste of Beer (Orion Publishing, London, 1998).

  10. Michael Jackson, Ultimate Beer (DK Publishing, New York, 1998).

  11. Michael Jackson, Great Beer Guide (DK Publishing, New York, 2000).
  12. Roger Protz, The Ale Trail (Eric Dobby Publishing, Kent, 1995).

  13. Horst Dornbusch, Prost! The Story of German Beer (Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, 1997).

  14. Charles Bamforth, Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing (Plenum Press, New York, 1998).

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