So I scored an 84 on my last attempt at the tasting exam leading me towards going to Houston to take the written exam. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the written exam. I came across a study from a guy called Tom which was like an information dump. So I broke his up in to Word documents(below) and added my practice answers based on the results of a homebrewer named Hommel who scored an 84 on the written. Thanks to Hommel for sharing his scores which gave me a baseline to write practice answers and understand where one could go wrong and how much detail was necessary to pass. When you review the amount of material out there and try to just visualize what 2 pages per answer would be like, it’s not that intuitive. So actually getting to see an exam and see the depth of the answers gave me an idea of how much I really needed to commit to memory when going in to this thing.
Fair warning: Don’t expect this material to be 100% correct. I’ve already proofed but not re-uploaded and found errors I made. To be expected as I was usually on my 3rd beer while typing this stuff up on the couch.
Question T1 – Troubleshooting Question – Hommel got this question and got very good marks for it. Gave me a great baseline to create my own answers in a similar size to his.
Question T3 – Body And Mouthfeel – Tom’s material on body and mouthfeel, a sample answer from me on body and mouthfeel that I wrote based on Hommel’s technical answer makeup.
Question T4 – Hops – Tom’s material on hops and a sample answer from me on Hops to memorize.
Question T8 – Water – Tom’s material and a sample answer from me on this.
Question T9 – Krausening Gypsum Finings – Hommel’s answer and Tom’s study material. Hommel’s answer got high praise so I’ll be using it unless I have time to write my own.
Question T10 – Hot And Cold Break – Tom’s study material and my answer to hot and cold break question.
Question T11 – Diastatic and Proteolytic Enzymes – Tom’s material and my answer. Very brief. Hope I don’t get this one!
Question T13 – Mashing – My answer on mashing and Tom’s material. Also a link to the BJCP’s old study information on mashing.
Question T14 – All Grain Recipe – Only Tom’s information. In the recipe formulation section below I’ll include the recipes I formulate
Question T15 – Malt and Yeast – My answer and Tom’s material. I really hope I’m on the right track on this answer. Will need to find guidance on whether I’m giving them what they actually want.
Style Questions. Question S0
Frankly, I’m not memorizing all that noise. It’s like 90 possible combinations on that page. So I’m going to narrow it down to 10 of the combinations the likely hood that a particular beer will show up. I’ll write answers for those and hope I get good draws based on what I’ve studied. I should be able to score “well enough” given what I saw on Hommel’s results. Using the Excel below I first counted how likely a particular beer was to come up, similar to Tom’s on the older test. There are roughly 274 tickets in the hat. Irish Extra stout is on there once so 1 in 274 chance for that guy.(not memorizing his stats then) However Marzen occurs 274 times in the hat so I’m definitely memorizing that style. I took the chances and applied it to the individual 3 beer combinations and chose those with the highest “scores” trying to reduce practicing repeated styles. This should get me practicing about 60% of the possible choices while only practicing 12% of the crazy list of combinations.
Question S0 – BJCP-Style-Possibilities-On-Written – The number of occurences for each beer along with a classic example for my memorization.
Question S0 – BJCP-Style-Possibilities-Prioritized – The style combinations weighted then ordered so that I practice the most likely styles I’ll end up with.
Question S0 – BJCP-Style-Comparison-Questions – My practice answers and the answer from Hommel’s as an example.
Recipe Formulation Question
BJCP-Written-Beer-Recipes – Formulated recipes for the possible recipes per the exercise. Included Hommel’s example which illustrates much of what to do and what not to miss.
Update Post Test: May 22, 2017
Test went great from how I feel about it standpoint. I got two draws which generally fell in to my “style possibilities prioritized” list. I got a bock question and a stout question both of which were generally in my list of 10 practice questions. I felt great about my answers. I got Czech pilsner as the recipe question which was easy enough although I rushed it some. The technical questions were a snap because I prepped well fro those. 3 faults to describe question and the mash question. I feel like I’ll land in the 80’s somewhere which is great for me.
So how could I have done better?
Time management. I feel like I did well and certainly better than the other 4 guys I was testing with. I went in with a gameplan of 300-400 words per answer. However as soon as I started writing question 1 I realized that I had not developed a “time per page” metric so that I could keep a pulse for how I was doing time wise. I had not tested it by sitting down, under a timer and writing a 300-400 word answer in 15-17 minutes so I didn’t know exactly where I was in relation to time and it caused me to rush some in the middle. So I rushed my recipe question thinking I needed to make up time. By the time I got to the last question I had 25 minutes remaining so I wrote 3 pages on mashing and still had time to go back to question 2 and add a little to it. But given the answer was done on 2 I couldn’t put new information in logical places. So I will probably get the most dings on the recipe question even though I think my answer was pretty solid. That being said, based on post test conversation the other guys were no where near as prepared for that as I and some had to really scamper to give half answers for 1 or 2 questions. I think I got very complete answers I simply feel that slight anxiety may have cost me 3-6 points.
T14 All Grain Recipe Answers – While I was studying the day before the test I finally got around to reading Tom’s information. I wanted to kick myself because his recipe formulation was much easier than mine. I don’t feel it changed my results but if I could go back I would definitely mold my recipes much the standard way he did.