BJCP Styles – A Study Guide

BJCP Styles – A Study Guide

A beer in a glass with designed words around it saying "beer judge certification program."

Below are the styles as listed in the 2008 BJCP Styles Guideline.  Links go to pages which have information about beers in that category and links to those individual beer styles.  I’ve taken out the verbatim information from the guideline.  Google does not like it when you use duplicate information on your site.  So, on each page I’ve written information about the history of each style and tips on how to brew each beer.  There will be a link to the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines on each page for further reading if you are studying for the BJCP exam.  Hopefully I will have included information which will help you understand the style better and gain an understanding on what it takes to brew the beer “to style”.  I’ve recently built a BJCP Beer Style Chart that you can download for free.  It has a lot of helpful information on many of the styles in the new guidelines.

I will start adding the styles as listed in the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines below these listed for the 2008 Guide with links where appropriate.  This will take some time, so bear with me.

This will be an ongoing effort until finished, so please check back often, especially if you are studying for the BJCP exam.

Beer Style Guidelines

  1. SOUR ALE
  2. BELGIAN STRONG ALE
  3. STRONG ALE
  4. FRUIT BEER
  5. SPICE / HERB / VEGETABLE BEER
  6. SMOKE-FLAVORED AND WOOD-AGED BEER
  7. SPECIALTY BEER

The Mead Style Guidelines

  1. TRADITIONAL MEAD
  2. MELOMEL (FRUIT MEAD)
  3. OTHER MEAD

The Cider Style Guidelines

  1. STANDARD CIDER AND PERRY
  2. SPECIALTY CIDER AND PERRY

Understanding the BJCP Styles

As we explore the BJCP Styles, there are a few things we must understand about the guidelines:

  • A style is not defined by one single beer. In general, a range of properties can describe each style and any beer falling within this range is stylistically accurate. When studying the style, try to get an appreciation for the full range of beers that may fall within the guidelines for that style.
  • Pay special attention to the wording of the guidelines. Modifiers are used to add information about different characteristics of the style. Look at the phrases which signify the magnitude of a characteristic, such as “little or no”, “light to somewhat medium”, “low to moderate”, etc. These may seem ambiguous but they are written to give you a range to go by instead of an absolute value.
  • When the BJCP wants you to understand that a descriptor is optional, you will see words such as “may have”, “can contain”, “might feature”, “is acceptable”, “is appropriate”, or “is typical”. Since these characteristics are optional within the range of possible properties in the style, they are not required. When a characteristic is required, you will see phrasing such as “must” or “should” in the description. And conversely, when a characteristic or flaw should not be present (probably because it often is), you will see phrases such as “is inappropriate” or “no” or “must not”.
  • Some styles will require additional information from the brewer to help the judges evaluate your beer and compare it with the rest of the flight. Make sure you read the guidelines carefully and be sure to include the proper information when requested. This information is usually mandatory and the omission may result in a beer, mead, or cider that is misjudged.
  • There is a place for supplemental information about your beer and this is where you should enter the nature of an experimental entry that may not fit in the guidelines. It is also the place to put unusual ingredients which may not allow the beer to fit into the normal category for the base beer brewed. The supplemental information allows the judges to understand what you intended to do in your experiment or to understand and look for additional flavors you may have intended to be in your beer. This is especially true for meads which will always require special information to be entered on the entry form.
  • Some beers may have different style numbers than they had before. Be sure you read the guidelines and place your beer in the appropriate category.
  • When judging the color of a beer, you will be evaluating the color density of the beer more than the hue or tint. Understanding this, here is a chart which may help you when judging a beer’s SRM:
Color DescriptorSRM Value
Straw2 – 3
Yellow3 – 4
Gold5 – 6
Amber6 – 9
Deep amber / light copper10 – 14
Copper14 – 17
Deep copper / light brown17 – 18
Brown19 – 22
Dark brown22 – 30
Very dark brown30 – 35
Black30 +
Black, opaque40 +
  • Beer styles are constantly evolving. Check the BJCP style guidelines often to find updates. These updates may include new commercial examples of a style, so in case you need an excuse to try a new beer, this may be it.

Information for the BJCP Styles page was adapted in part from the preface to the BJCP Style Guidelines on the BJCP website BJCP.org.


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