The BJCP and Cider and Mead

August 9, 2011

I promised to blog about the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) and why it annoys me that they took under their wing the categories of cider, mead, and apple wine. Actually, I think the last one hits the nail on the head: what are they doing judging wine?

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. What is the BJCP? Their website reads, “The purpose of the Beer Judge Certification Program is to promote beer literacy and the appreciation of real beer, and to recognize beer tasting and evaluation skills. We certify and rank beer judges through an examination and monitoring process.” Basically, it is a program to educate people on beer and try to bring consistency to beer styles by defining them and how they are to be judged. The BJCP does allow some flexibility in creativity, but does have a hard time dealing with experiments outside a “standard.”

But to judge cider and mead, both of which are made like wine, is stupid. First off, at least with cider, you press the apples and then ferment the juice just like you do wine, not beer. Mead is technically “honey wine.” Both cider and mead use sulfites just like wine does, not beer. Last of all, a good cider and mead need to be aged like wine, not drank young like beer. So since both are like wine and not like beer, then why is it judged as beer? Who gave the BJCP permission to take cider and mead under their wing?

Actually, the BJCP does a good write up on cider and mead, and they probably do a good job at training actual judges, but the training is hard to find. So really, it is the people who are really into beer and think they can judge cider and mead because it is on the BJCP without reading the BJCP. The education is lacking. Maybe they don’t know to go find the special judges sheet for cider and mead, so I’m judged on “hoppiness” and if it is appropriate. Stupid. Also, what I’ve seen is that the BJCP does is promotes adding sugar to cider to make apple wine http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style28.php, and then you end up with homebrewers who don’t age it and then refer to it as rocket fuel, and they wonder why. There is just a disconnect, and I really wish the BJCP would leave at least cider alone.

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2 Responses to “The BJCP and Cider and Mead”

  1. Joe Klinck Says:

    I’m a BJCP judge and an organizer with the continuing education program. While I see where you are coming from I feel you are overlooking some points. Many homebrewers also make mead and cider and in competitions those are people we seek out to judge mead and cider. Thus the people judging mead and cider generally are knowledgeable about those styles. I also feel that beer judges that are inexperienced with mead and ciders can effectively judge them because they are experienced with picking apart different beers and thus can effectively judge meads and ciders. I have never made a mead or cider but have judged both and feel I’ve done a good job (I judged with experience mead makers and my scores and comments were all in line with theirs). My experience judging beer helped me and reading through the mead and cider guidelines helped me too see what desired characteristics and what off-flavors too look for.

    Cheers,

    Joe Klinck
    Orgnaizer, North County San Diego BJCP

  2. Brian W. Says:

    First off, if you are getting comments about hoppiness (or lack thereof) in your mead/cider entries, you have a serious lack of knowledge in the judging staff and should not participate in that competition ever again. The BJCP has put out excellent material to prepare and train judges to take mead and cider specific tests for years. It is up to the judges to use that material seriously.

    Second, ciders and meads are not defined by using sulfites. It’s not required in either. Also, proper age varies in ciders and meads just like it does in certain beer styles. I’ve had made many that were delicious (and award-winning, if I might say so) in as little as a few weeks, or as long as a couple years. You might be surprised how different yeast choices will make that possible.

    Third, how else do you make an apfelwine without adding sugar? To even be within style it has to be 9% abv or beyond. Completely impossible with only juice. Now, if you and your friends are adding table sugar and wondering what is going wrong, then I don’t have much help for you.

    Honestly, Your rant here smacks of relatively little experience in the area. You may have had a bad judge or two (everyone does once in a while), but the BJCP is not at fault. And if they don’t give us a forum to judge ciders and meads, who will?


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