• After the AHA dropped support, what happened?

    As you read in the history, the spark that led to the BJCP's independence was the sudden dropping of support by the AHA. [Ed. Note: Despite appearances, the relationship between the AHA and BJCP is extremely cordial today.]

    Below is an article written by Pat Baker, one of the founders of the BJCP, which was published in Brewing Techniques, May/June 1995 (Vol. 3, No. 3)

    Beer Judge Certification Program Reorganizes

    by Patrick Baker

    The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) notified its members in early April that three judge representatives had been appointed to the committee that governs the organization. It also announced that regional elections by member judges will be held to elect the entire committee. The committee functions as a board of directors and will now consist of seven members. This transformation to an independent, judge-representative, regional organization was triggered by the American Homebrewers Association's (AHA) January announcement that they were withdrawing from the partnership with the Home Wine and Beer Trade Association (HWBTA), which formed the BJCP in 1985.

    The new judge representatives joining the governing committee are Steve Stroud (Meford, Massachusetts), Scott Birdwell (Houston, Texas), and Norman Dickenson (Santa Rosa, California). Current committee members, which were appointed by the AHA and HWBTA are Rob Bates (Reno, Nevada), John Dale (Neschanic Station, New Jersey), Gregg Smith (Idaho Falls, Idaho), and Russ Wigglesworth (Petaluma, California).

    The BJCP offers examinations recognizing beer literacy and judging skills. Levels of recognition are based on examination score and beer-judging experience. By December 1994, the BJCP had given 1739 exams, and over 1500 people were involved in the program. While most BJCP judges are hobby home brewers, it is estimated that one-third are either commercial brewers or are active in the homebrew supply trade. It is expected that 400 exams will be given during 1995 at 40 locations.

    The BJCP has operated with centralized management since its founding, focusing on the task of recognizing beer literacy and judging talents. The program's growth and the need to be more responsive to the increasing number of members has led to the decision to decentralize. Seven regions have been declared in North America, and each will elect a representative to a new board of directors. The board will replace the previous governing committee.

    Once the elections have occurred, the new board and regional councils will focus on the program's mission. Extension of the program's activity beyond judge certification is under review. A possible new activity is the creation and administration of guidelines for both commercial and home-brewed beer competitions and judgings. Another need that perhaps can be best satisfied by the BJCP is the creation and administration of an approved system for defining beer styles. The fact that the BJCP is broadly based in membership and is independent of commercial influence makes it appropriate that it consider broadening its activities.

    Although the HWBTA continues to sponsor the program, it has announced that it supports the concept of an independent, judge-representative BJCP and will release the BJCP of any obligation upon completion of the election of a board of directors.

    The HWBTA, founded in 1975, is an association of companies and individuals involved in the home beer and wine trade, including retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, authors, and publishers. Current membership is about 500. Members are located primarily in North America, but overseas manufacturers are well represented. The association has an executive secretary who handles administration and publication of an annual directory of members. The HWBTA sponsors an annual trade conference where members met and exchange ideas and information and discuss industry problems. The HWBTA was instrumental in gaining the legalization of home brewing in the United States in 1979. Then-president Nancy Crosby and beer author Lee Coe worked closely with Senator Alan Cranston to introduce and pass legalization legislation through the U.S. Congress.

    Patrick Baker is a founder and co-director of the BJCP and a founder and director of Crosby & Baker, Ltd. He is the author of the New Brewer's Handbook and Pat Baker's Beer and Bar Atlas. He lives in Keene, New Hampshire.