After such a long wait, the time has finally come and passed. It has been about a month and a half now and I still have a lot to cover when it comes to learning the history of the styles, etc. but the BJCP Tasting Exam is finally OVER!!! I was stressing a lot about it the first few days to a week or so after the exam but now I am just over it and want my results. Before I wanted an 80 or better, now I just hope I got a 60 so I don't have to test with the updated guidelines... JK!!! I still hope I did great but this waiting period is killing me and seriously all I want is a pass at this point.
The main advice I have for anyone taking this is exam is to make sure you learn the styles. I know that may sound kind of obvious, but maybe I should phrase it this way. Make sure you know the differences between the styles. You are there to judge each beer presented to you based on what you sense. Not what the guideline says. Write down everything you notice and then afterward, consider what you tasted. The proctor told you this was a Sweet Stout. Was it really? or was it an under-carbonated Oatmeal Stout? There are differences but if you can't pull out what they are, you are stuck taking their word for gold.
Overall I think I feel pretty good about it but we will see when the results come back. One more thing when it comes to taking the test. Or even when it comes to life: NEVER SECOND GUESS YOURSELF!
I showed up on test day not knowing what to expect. I signed in, sat down, filled out preliminary paperwork and just waited... I don't know why I showed up so early. About an hour but I stayed in my car. I got in the testing room about 30 minutes before the start of the exam... Just waiting... I guess it is better than being late.
I was relieved when the first beer showed up. I feel it set the pace for the whole exam. The category was 1A: Lite American Lager. A pretty good one, too. At least I thought it was. Drinking it was honestly just like reading the guidelines. The only thing I knocked that one for was the fact that it was hazy. This is not a style I ever really drink but I would drink several of them no questions asked. People just get so stuck on the BMC is bad kick, that they cannot relate to a good beer in those styles. Just about every beer has its time and place. Lite American Lager included.
I thought I got pretty lucky with the choice of beers. The remaining styles went as follows; 5B: Traditional Bock, 10A: American Pale Ale, 13B: Sweet Stout, 19A: Old Ale, and 18C: Tripel. Each of those beers had their own strengths and weaknesses and there was only one I found nearly undrinkable. I felt everything was good until the very end of the exam where I finished up Beer Number 6 and had about 10 minutes remaining... That second guessing yourself thing comes into play here.
The Tripel that I thought was pretty awesome, started to taste funky... like really odd. Like odd enough for me to lower my score from a 34 to a 29! I should have left it because it seems I was right in line with everyone that I talked to after the exam before I went back. I guess one beer won't really hurt me when it comes to grading but I was hoping to have all 6 be good. Just to hopefully score fairly well. And who knows what else I may have slipped up on. I thought the Old Ale might have been infected and then I go back to taste it after the exam and it was not as "bad" as I thought it was.
I did not adjust that score because I had given it a 19. It was a bad example of an Old Ale, regardless. Other examinees I talked to scored it right in line with me or in the low 20's, so I am not too worried about that... unless it was not infected and I get knocked for that. But it is still only 2 beers out of 6... I feel I nailed the other exam beers and I was not too far off here, even with my changes or perceptions.
I will send out an update as I get my results back, but don't expect to see that for another two or three months... or so I hear. Twitter or Google Plus will probably have the first look at that, but that is like breaking news. Until then,