While there is a plethora of information on homebrewing (and just about everything else) available for free on the internet, including online calculators, discussion forums, and clone recipes, I’m a bit of an old-fashioned student that prefers referencing printed textbooks. To me, I prefer to thumb through the pages of a well-worn brewing book that is peer-reviewed rather than scour the forums for the answers to my questions, often wondering if those well-intentioned responses are trustworthy. I also like to have comprehensive information all bound under one cover rather than consulting six different websites to cover my daily ponderings.
Gluten is a troublesome protein found in cereal grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. Approximately 1% of the world population is affected by celiac disease which is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and affects nutrient absorption. Gluten sensitivity is a recognised condition affecting about 6% of the US population, and involves other, less serious reactions from ingested gluten. Since the primary source of sugar in brewing comes from cereal grains, most people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances avoid beer altogether, but craft brewers have gotten creative over the years in trying to offer gluten-free options that still taste great. This post will introduce you to the basics of gluten-free brewing.
In the previous post I talked about the online entrance exam portion of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). If you pass that grueling 200 question exam in 60 minutes then you earn the title of "Apprentice" beer judge. You are able to assist in BJCP-sanctioned brewing competitions as long as you are accompanied by another more senior judge.
In order to earn the level of "Recognized" judge, "Certified" judge, or "National" judge you must complete the second portion of the exam: the tasting exam. I was one of around 20 participants in Hong Kong's first BJCP Tasting Exam held at Second Draft in Tin Hau. In this post I will tell you a little about my preparation for the exam and the exam itself. At present I don't have the results so I can't tell you if my preparation paid off but this should at least give you an idea if you are considering taking this exam.
The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has been around since the 1990s with a purpose of defining and distinguishing between various beer styles throughout the world and providing the common vocabulary necessary to describe the differences in the taste, smell, mouthfeel, and appearance of those styles. Thus, it provides a standard framework upon which brewing competitions may be based when comparing the quality of various beers produced by both hobbyists and professional brewers. In this series of two posts I will discuss my experience in preparing for the BJCP exam which enables individuals to participate as qualified judges in BJCP-sanctioned brewing competitions. In this first part I will discuss the preparation for and completion of the online portion of the exam ("Entrance Exam") and in the second part I will discuss the tasting portion of the exam.