Louisiana Homebrew Competitions coming up: Bayou State Circuit Website

Here are a number of homebrew competition resources to help when planning to enter your next competition. See below for scoresheets, a list of BJCP styles, helpful beer descriptors, and tips and tricks on judging beer, and what to expect when your beer gets judged.

Official Score Sheet of the BJCP and AHA, has been slightly modified for aesthetic and organization

Brewstock Score Sheet, based on the BJCP Score Sheet, with less clutter, a modification to the off flavor guide, and redesignation of scoring guide.

2021 BJCP Style Guideline Table of Contents

1. Standard American Beer
1A. American Light Lager
1B. American Lager
1C. Cream Ale
1D. American Wheat Beer

2. International Lager
2A. International Pale Lager
2B. International Amber Lager
2C. International Dark Lager

3. Czech Lager
3A. Czech Pale Lager
3B. Czech Premium Pale Lager
3C. Czech Amber Lager
3D. Czech Dark Lager

4. Pale Malty European Lager
4A. Munich Helles
4B. Festbier
4C. Helles Bock

5. Pale Bitter European Beer
5A. German Leichtbier
5B. Kölsch
5C. German Helles Exportbier
5D. German Pils

6. Amber Malty European Lager
6A. Märzen
6B. Rauchbier
6C. Dunkles Bock

7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager
7B. Altbier

8. Dark European Lager
8A. Munich Dunkel
8B. Schwarzbier

9. Strong European Beer
9A. Doppelbock
9B. Eisbock
9C. Baltic Porter

10. German Wheat Beer
10A. Weissbier
10B. Dunkles Weissbier
10C. Weizenbock

11. British Bitter
11A. Ordinary Bitter
11B. Best Bitter
11C. Strong Bitter

12. Pale Commonwealth Beer
12A. British Golden Ale
12B. Australian Sparkling Ale
12C. English IPA

13. Brown British Beer
13A. Dark Mild
13B. British Brown Ale
13C. English Porter

14. Scottish Ale
14A. Scottish Light
14B. Scottish Heavy
14C. Scottish Export

15. Irish Beer
15A. Irish Red Ale
15B. Irish Stout
15C. Irish Extra Stout

16. Dark British Beer
16A. Sweet Stout
16B. Oatmeal Stout
16C. Tropical Stout
16D. Foreign Extra Stout

17. Strong British Ale
17A. British Strong Ale
17B. Old Ale
17C. Wee Heavy
17D. English Barleywine

18. Pale American Ale
18A. Blonde Ale
18B. American Pale Ale

19. Amber and Brown American Beer
19A. American Amber Ale
19B. California Common
19C. American Brown Ale

20. American Porter and Stout
20A. American porter
20B. American Stout
20C. Imperial Stout

21. IPA
21A. American IPA
21B. Specialty IPA
…Belgian IPA
…Black IPA
…Brown IPA
…Red IPA
…Rye IPA
…White IPA
…Brut IPA
21C. Hazy IPA

22. Strong American Ale
22A. Double IPA
22B. American Strong Ale
22C. American Barleywine
22D. Wheatwine

23. European Sour Ale
23A. Berliner Weisse
23B. Flanders Red Ale
23C. Oud Bruin
23D. Lambic
23E. Gueuze
23F. Fruit Lambic
23G. Gose

24. Belgian Ale
24A. Witbier
24B. Belgian Pale Ale
24C. Biere de Garde

25. Strong Belgian Ale
25A. Belgian Blonde Ale
25B. Saison
25C. Belgian Golden Strong Ale

26. Monastic Ale
26A. Belgian Single
26B. Belgian Dubbel
26C. Belgian Tripel
26D. Belgian Dark Strong (Quad)

27. Historical Beer
Historical Beer: Kellerbier
Historical Beer: Kentucky Common
Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer
Historical Beer: London Brown Ale
Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie
Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager
Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Porter
Historical Beer: Roggenbier
Historical Beer: Sahti

28. American Wild Ale

28A. Brett Beer
28B. Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer
28C. Wild Specialty Beer
28D. Straight Sour Beer

29. Fruit Beer
29A. Fruit Beer
29B. Fruit and Spice Beer
29C. Specialty Fruit Beer
29D. Grape Ale

30. Spiced Beer
30A. Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer
30B. Autumn Seasonal Beer
30C. Winter Seasonal Beer
30D. Specialty Spice Beer

31. Alternative Fermentables Beer
31A. Alternative Grain Beer
31B. Alternative Sugar Beer

32. Smoke Beer
32A. Classic Style Smoked Beer
32B. Specialty Smoked Beer

33. Wood Beer
33A. Wood-Aged Beer
33B. Specialty Wood-Aged Beer

34. Specialty Beer
34A. Commercial Specialty Beer
34B. Mixed-Style Beer
34C. Experimental Beer

Click to access the full 2021 BJCP Style Guide

Common Beer Descriptors



Straw • Yellow • Pale • Gold • Orange • Amber • Copper • Red • Ruby • Brown • Dark Brown • Black


Clear • Crystal • Bright • Chill Haze • Cloudy • Hazy • Opaque


White Foam • Off White Foam • Tan Foam • Brown Foam • Persistent • Retention • Lacing • Carbonation

Aromas & Flavors


Grainy • Cereal • Cracker • Bread • Biscuit • Nutty • Toasty • Malty-sweet • Honey • Caramel • Toffee • Fruity • Dried Fruits • Raisin • Cacao • Chocolate • Coffee • Smokey • Bitter • Astringent • Smooth 


Bitter • Earthy • Woody • Grassy • Resinous • Pine • Spicy • Herbal • Floral • Sweet • Dank • Berries • Melons • Stone Fruits • Tropical Fruits • Citrus

Yeasty / Estery

Clean • Delicate • Fruity • Citrus • Stone Fruit • Apricot • Peach • Apple • Pear • Dried Fruits • Berry • Banana • Clove • Belgian Spice • Peppery • Black Pepper • White Pepper • Earthy • Musty • Funky • Barnyard • Horsey • Sour • Tart • Boozy • Hot

Other Additives

Spices • Coriander • Sweet Orange Peel • Bitter Orange Peel • Cinnamon • Vanilla • Cacao Nibs Nutmeg • Added Fruits • Raspberry • Cherry • Adjunct Sweetness • Sugar • Caramel • Sweet • Sour • Bitter • Salty • Umami



Light • Thin • Delicate • Medium • Balanced • Full • Thick • Heavy


Creamy • Smooth • Coating • Slick • Dry • Astringent • Warming • Harsh • Refreshing


Low • Medium • High • Effervescent • Prickly • Creamy • Tingly • Stingy

Choosing a Beer Style

  • Category is half the battle when entering competitions
  • Carefully review the BJCP Style Guideline Table of Contents and narrow down multiple styles which your beer might fit in
  • Read through those individual styles and decide which category your beer best fits, and will compete best in
  • Fortunately and unfortunately, intent means nothing to the judges
  • Compare your beer with commercial examples to find the best fit
  • If entering the same beer into multiple competitions, enter into different categories to see how it scores

Bottle Inspection and Cap color

  • Anonymity is important in competitions, remove all labels and bottle indicators
  • Denoting cap color on the score sheet ensures that the correct beer is being judged
  • Comment on proper or improper bottles, fill levels, labels, markings, etc


  • Write down what you’re seeing, follow the instructions on the score sheet
    • Comment on Color
    • Comment on Clarity
    • Comment on Head/Foam
    • Comment on Head Retention and Lacing
    • Compare to commercial examples you’re familiar with and that you think are good examples, and check BJCP commercial example list
    • If a judged German Pils is totally opaque, but all commercial examples are crystal clear, the hazy Pils might have a flaw!


  • Write down what you’re smelling, follow the instructions on the score sheet
    • Comment on Dominant Aromatics first
    • Comment on Secondary Aromatics next
    • Comment on how the aromatics change as the beer warms
    • Comment on malty aromas, if any
    • Comment on hoppy aromas, if any
    • Comment on yeast aromas, if any
    • Comment if you detect any inappropriate aromas or off-flavor aromas
    • Compare to commercial examples you’re familiar with and that you think are good examples, and check BJCP commercial example list
    • If a judged Czech Lager has the aroma of Citra+Galaxy, but all commercial examples only smell like Saaz, the fruity hoppy Czech Pils might have a flaw!


  • Write down what you’re experiencing/feeling, follow the instructions on the sheet
    • Comment on body; thin, medium, full, etc
      • Comment on viscosity as well
    • Comment on level of carbonation
    • Comment on the perceived gravity; sweet or dry, creamy or astringent 
    • Comment on any other palate sensations; nerve stimulation, aftertaste, clearing ability, finish, lingering sensations, etc
    • Compare to commercial examples you’re familiar with and that you think are good examples, and check BJCP commercial example list
    • If a judged American Light Lager has a full hazy creaminess to it, but all commercial examples are dry and crisp, the milkshake lager might have a flaw!


  • Write down what you’re tasting, follow the instructions on the sheet
    • Comment on five major flavor components; sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami
    • Comment on malt flavors, if any
    • Comment on hop flavors, if any
    • Comment on yeast flavors, if any
    • Comment on perceived fermentation characteristics
    • Comment on the balance, or lack of balance
    • Comment on the finish and aftertaste
    • Comment on any other flavors you detect
    • Comment on how the beer’s flavor changes over time and as it warms
    • Comment if you detect any off flavors / inappropriate flavors 
    • Compare to commercial examples you’re familiar with and that you think are good examples, and check BJCP commercial example list
    • If a judged Märzen has a strong flavor of vinegar, but all commercial examples have toasty and warm malt flavors, guess which one has the flaw

Overall Impression

  • Write down how you felt drinking this beer, follow the instructions on the sheet
    • Comment on the overall drinking pleasure
    • Tell the brewer what they did correct, and how it compares to the style
    • Tell the brewer what they did wrong, and how it should compare to the style
    • Offer suggestions for improvement on the recipe and/or brewing process
    • If you taste off flavors, make educated and calculated assumptions about what went wrong and offer tips/tricks on how to fix those off flavors

Off Flavor vs Inappropriate Flavor 

  • An off flavor is an unintentional aroma or flavor derived from the brewing, fermentation, packaging, or aging process
    • Off flavors are typically caused by chemical reactions or bacterias
    • Yeast not having enough time to clean up diacetyl is an off flavor
    • Not boiling hard enough to drive off DMS is an off flavor
    • Exposing the beer to oxygen during the bottling process is an off flavor
  • An inappropriate flavor is an intentional or unintentional aroma or flavor that exists in the beer that is not appropriate to the beer’s style, whether pleasant or unpleasant
    • Inappropriate flavors are typically caused by recipe/ingredient choice
    • Roasted malt flavor in a Cream Ale is an inappropriate flavor
    • Saison Phenolics in a German Pils is an inappropriate flavor
  • Always denote on the score sheet the difference between an off flavor and an inappropriate flavor, based on the beer’s style
  • Taking off flavor classes is important to familiarize yourself with common off flavors that may occur in beer, making it easier to detect when giving feedback, and will aid in offering suggestions on the brewing process

Helpful Tips for Scoring and Studying

  • More feedback is better than less feedback. Write more than you think you need to
  • Try to first comment on exactly what you’re experiencing before commenting on what you should be experiencing; cognitive vs emotional
    • Don’t hunt for flavors or off flavors you think should be there
    • Judge the beer exactly as it is
    • It’s good to use familiarity as a reference, but not necessarily as a guide
    • Always comment on what the actual flavors are before offering advice on what you should be tasting
  • It is important to BJCP that you qualify what you’re tasting
    • Always denote levels of intensity; low, medium, high, brilliant, intense, etc
    • Never write just hoppy, or just fruity… Is it a medium amount of hops? Is it a high level of fruit? 
    • Qualifying comments = better feedback = better help for the entrant
  • Come up with descriptor language by training
    • Taste a beer simultaneously with an already filled out scoresheet
    • Take note of the language and try to taste what is written on the sheet
    • Fill out your own score sheet on a beer, then compare with an already filled out scoresheet
    • Did you taste what the certified judge tasted?
  • Know your palate
    • Everyone tastes and smells differently
    • Find familiarity with foods and other daily aromatics to compare
    • Things that affect your palate: age, gender, mood, environment, meals, smoking, coffee, food preferences, consumption habits, weight, etc. 
    • If you smoke cigarettes, your palate sucks.
    • Know what flavors your are sensitive to, and what flavors you have trouble tasting
    • DMS is a classic example… everyone perceives its flavor slightly different
  • Research ingredients on internet
    • Google! Search for any ingredient, read all flavor and aroma descriptions
    • Best resources, the manufacturer i.e. Weyermann, Yakima Hops, Omega Yeast
    • Secondary resources, distributors, i.e. Brewstock, MoreBeer, BSG
  • Understand flavors and styles by tasting and smelling ingredients from your LHBS
  • Research online recipes and cross reference ingredients
    • 10 out of 10 people use Wheat in a Hefeweizen: wheat is a good choice!
    • 1 out of 10 people use Black malt in a Hefeweizen: black malt is not a good choice!
  • https://legacy.bjcp.org/docs/BJCP_Study_Guide.pdf 
  • https://legacy.bjcp.org/docs/BJCP_Scoresheet_Guide.pdf
  • https://www.bjcp.org/exam-certification/program/studying/sample-scoresheets/

Common Off Flavor & Inappropriate Flavor Guide

  • Acetaldehyde
    • Green apple aroma and/or flavor. Sometimes described as cut grass or emulsion paint
    • Possibly derived from the yeast as a byproduct of fermentation during primary fermentation or refermentation in packaging
  • Alcoholic
    • Aroma, flavor, and warming effect of high alcohol beverages. Sometimes described as boozy or hot
    • Possibly derived from too high of fermentation temperature, fusels, or not enough maturation time in high ABV beers
  • Astringent
    • Mouthfeel sensation of puckering harshness, dryness, and/or bitterness, very lingering on the palate
    • Possibly derived from harsh grains and/or hops
  • Butyric Acid
    • Rancid, baby vomit, and/or putrid like aroma and/or flavors
    • Possibly derived from bacterial contamination during fermentation, kettle souring is a common source of anaerobic bacterial contamination
  • Cheesy
    • Old cheese, mild rancid, sweaty and/or dirty socks aromas and/or flavors
    • Possibly derived from use of old and degraded hops
  • Diacetyl
    • Artificial butter, butterscotch, or toffee aroma and flavor depending on the individual’s palate, also perceived with a slick mouthfeel
    • Possibly derived during primary fermentation from yeast not having enough time to re-consume and clean up remaining diacetyl
  • DMS / Vegetal
    • Canned sweet corn, steamed vegetables, or cabbage like aroma and/or flavor, depending on the individual’s palate
    • Possibly derived from not boiling hard enough in beers that have a high percentage of pilsner or low lovibond malts
  • Estery / Yeasty
    • Over expression of undesirable yeast esters not limited to banana, pear, rose, bread, fruit, or sulfur
    • Possibly derived from the choice of yeast, fermentation temperature, or not enough maturation time in the primary fermenter
  • Light Struck
    • Similar to aroma of skunk or cannabis
    • Possibly derived from finished beer being exposed to UV light or sunlight
  • Metalic
    • Over expression of metallic flavors such as tin, copper, coin, blood-like
    • Possibly derived from use of non-stainless metals in the brewing or packaging process, or from excessively high mineral content
  • Musty
    • Musty or moldy aromas and/or flavors
    • Possibly derived from a mold or mildew contamination in the fermenter, or if an unsealed fermenter has been aged in a moldy chamber for too long
  • Oxidized
    • Cardboard, paper, stale-like aromas and/or flavors
    • Possibly derived from the beer being exposed to oxygen post fermentation, hoppier beers with lots of alpha acids are more susceptible
  • Phenolic
    • Over expression of clove, spice, smoky, plastic, band-aid, or medicinal aromas and/or flavors
    • Possibly derived from too much chlorine in your brewing water, or contamination of wild phenol producing yeasts
  • Solvent
    • Aromas and/or flavors of fusel alcohols, rubbing alcohol, acetone, nail polish remover, or paint thinner
    • Possibly derived from too high of a fermentation temperature, very dependent on the type of yeast
  • Sour/Acidic
    • Noticeable tartness in aroma and/or flavor when not appropriate to style
    • Possibly derived from bacteria or wild yeast contamination, poor sanitization, or misuse of water treatment acids
  • Sulfur
    • Rotten eggs or burning matches aroma
    • Possibly derived during primary fermentation from the yeast, some yeast being more notorious for producing sulfurous compounds like H2S
  • Sweet / Cloying
    • Over expression of sweetness, cloying sensations, or syrupy flavors
    • Possibly derived from poor yeast health, stalled fermentation, or over use of certain ingredients that cause sweetness

Try to make it taste like you brewed it that way on purpose.