Beer & Wine

M.A.S.H. Members Earn Professional Beer Judge Certification

When the term "beer geek" is used, it's more than likely referring to people like Robert Billany and Danny Argudin of the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers.

Argudin, who's also part of the startup Sexy Llama Brewing, and Billany are now also professional beer judges. They earned their new credentials last week after receiving confirmation from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

See also: M.A.S.H.: The Original Miami Homebrewers

The BJCP program was started in 1985 to promote beer literacy. The test, which consists of multiple-choice and tasting sections, is administered in two parts.

The tasting -- the hardest portion of the certification -- consists of sampling six beers in a 90-minute stretch, or one every 15 minutes. Between beers, candidates are expected to take extremely detailed notes -- at least a full page -- about the nuances of style, taste, feel, and smell. To pass the taste test, Billany had to memorize at least 80 styles of beer.

See also: Sexy Llama Brewing Company Debut at World of Beer Tuesday

It's not an expensive test -- only $40 for the written part and $10 for the tasting. But opportunities to take the test are rare. There's also a waiting list.

Billany scored 70 percent, which puts him midrange among other beer judges. He now qualifies to be a judge at BJCP competitions, of which there are hundreds.

BJCP competitions are not about which beer tastes best, but how beers adhere to styles. "[They] are not beauty contests," Billany says.

It's a rigorous task. During each competition, judges are expected to taste hundreds of beers. And it's not like wine or spirits competitions where judges discard samples in a spittoon. Although it's just two ounces apiece, swallowing hundreds of beer samples a day can get you pretty buzzed, Billany says.

The BJCP certification is different from the Cicerone certification. Whereas the former recognizes the technical knowledge of beer styles, the Cicerone is geared toward the craft beer industry -- encompassing draft technology and food pairings.

Argudin and Billany are the latest BJCP-certified judges in M.A.S.H., which now boasts at least seven judges.

Get more beer by following David Minsky on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Short Order on Facebook, Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
David Minsky is a U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He has also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky