What we love about Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned competitions is the feedback. This is our chance to craft a beer, wine, mead or cider, in any style and let certified judges have at it, with no filter, as well as to compete against friends.
At first, this sounds harsh, I’ll admit. When we give our friends one of our beers, what we want is to be showered in their adoration and glory. The only problem with that is that our friends always do that, because we’re giving them free beer! Sometimes what we want is some solid, constructive criticism. The fact of the matter is, in order to get better, we need that extra bit of criticism – just as long as it’s constructive!
Judges at sanctioned competitions are judges who have taken the BJCP exam, and are either training or trained to taste tons of different types of beers against the standards put down in the BJCP Style Guidelines. All of the tasting is done anonymously, so all of the BJCP judges will have no problem telling you exactly what they taste and giving advice or examples of potential causes if they do taste an off flavor. These invaluable opinions are the real gold medals.
While a big part of a competition is rising above your friends and brewing peers, the real reward is having trained tasters from the local and national beer world tell you exactly what they taste in your beer. Good or bad, this will always lead to new insight to your own brewing and recipe formulation process, which will ultimately help you make better beer.