HBO’s resident brewmaster, ex-chief Scott Bryan, just upped the ante by becoming a beer judge! In true HBO form, we cracked open a few of his homebrews to celebrate, then sat down and grilled him about his latest venture.
HBO: You’ve been homebrewing since Spring of 2014, what motivated you to take it to the next level by becoming a Beer Judge?
SB: Homebrewing is the best hobby I ever got into. Going from homebrewer to BJCP judge felt like a natural progression.
HBO: The Beer Judge Certification Program Beer Judging Examination is the primary tool for evaluating practical skills of new beer judges. Each pre-qualified applicant must complete scoresheets for six beers served at 15 minute intervals – a total of 90 minutes to finish the exam. Did your homebrewing club inspire or assist you in prepping for the BJCP?
SB: Yes, we have many BJCP judges in our club. We all got together for practice sessions to sample commercial and homebrews. We would compare notes with experienced judges to see if we were close in our scoring.
HBO: The BJCP exam is based on five components: Perceptive Accuracy, Descriptive Ability, Feedback, Completeness, and Scoring Accuracy. What was the most straightforward component and the most challenging component to score?
SB: I find scoring the easiest and being descriptive the hardest. The judges marking our score sheets want every line filled in. It can be difficult to come up with so many descriptors.
HBO: What were some of the exam rumors in the beer brewing community before you took the exam, and how would you measure the scuttlebutt after you took and passed the exam?
SB: More than any rumors, the whole examination process itself is just very intimidating. I had so much anxiety before I took the test, I almost bailed. Thankfully, the judges in my group calmed my fears. I was surprisingly happy with the result.
HBO: Prepping for the BJCP exam must have been intense; do you have any sound advice for someone embarking on this exciting new adventure?
SB: Study, study, and study… all the BJCP styles of beer. Purchase and sample some commercial brands, and see how your scoring compares to the comments in Zymurgy magazine. It’s also important to leverage your resources. During our Hand Grenades Homebrew and Craft Beer Club meetings, we have a feedback table for members. It’s a great arena to practice in. I sampled members’ homebrews, gave them comments, and compared notes with the other judges in the club.