Rules and Regulations

Special thanks to Ninkasi Sponsor Samuel Adams.

National Homebrew Competition MedalThe National Homebrew Competition (NHC) judged a total of 7,663 entries from 3,170 brewers in 2015. The NHC remains the largest beer competition in the world!

A total of 118,911 homebrews have been judged in the 37 years of the competition. The NHC is an enormous undertaking, which would not be possible without the tremendous dedication and support from the competition sponsors, volunteers, judges, and stewards whose hard work and enthusiasm for homebrewing have made the competition a success year after year.

Style Guidelines

The 2016 National Homebrew Competition is using the 2016 National Homebrew Competition Style Guide (pdf). The new NHC styles use a modified version the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) 2015 Style Guidelines, which includes many new subcategories. Based on an analysis of entry totals from previous years, three new categories have been added: American Pale Ale, Strong Stout, and American IPA, for a total of 31 categories.

Homebrew Club Award Points

Based on input from the AHA Governing Committee’s Competition Subcommittee, the method for awarding the NHC Homebrew Club Award is changing. Starting with the 2016 competition, only the points from medals earned in the Final Round will be tallied to determine the winning club. Tiebreaker rules for this award have also been added. Please read Part IV Judging & Awards for the details.

Communication for the Competition

All communication during the open registration and random selection process will be done using the email address associated with your American Homebrewers Association (AHA) member record.

NOTE: If you have unsubscribed from an AHA or Brewers Association email in the past, this will prevent the AHA from communicating with you about the competition. To resubscribe, go to HomebrewersAssociation.org and use the “sign up for our newsletter” field in the lower right corner of any page.

Judging Method

Both the First and Final Round judging use a checklist-style evaluation method for beer entries which was developed by the BJCP. Review the beer checklist scoresheet (pdf), scoresheet instructions (pdf) and beer fault list (pdf) to familiarize yourself with the judging process for beer.

Part I: How to Enter This Competition

1. What kind of bottle is required?

Beer, mead and cider entries must be in sealed, food-safe containers that meet these criteria:

  • Hold a minimum of 10 ounces (296 ml) in volume.
  • No more than 2.75 inches (7 cm) in diameter and no more than 9 inches (23 cm) in height, to ensure that they will fit in standard longneck case box slot.
  • Must be free of ink, paint, or paper labeling other than the competition entry label. Obliterate any lettering or graphics on the cap with a permanent black marker.

Bottles not meeting the above requirements will be disqualified.

2. How many bottles do I need?

Send two (2) bottles for each entry competing in the First Round. One bottle is used for the score sheet judging, the second bottle will be used for entries advancing to the mini-best-of-show judging to determine the category winners.

Three (3) additional bottles will be required for each entry that advances to the Final Round competition in June. One bottle is used for the score sheet judging, the second bottle will be used for entries advancing to the mini-best-of-show judging to determine the category winners, and the third bottle will be used for the best-of-show beer, mead, or cider if your entry placed first in its category.

3. What are the entry fees?

For U.S. and international entries AHA members pay US$14 per entry. You must be an AHA member to enter.

  • Online Payment: Entry fees must be paid online using the competition application; payment may be made using Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card.
  • Final Round: There is no additional fee for entries advancing to the Final Round.
  • Entrants with entries advancing to the NHC Final Round will receive Final Round entry instructions and bottle labels by logging into their account in the competition application after the First Round results have been posted to the AHA website.

4. When are the entry deadlines?

  • All First Round NHC entries must be received at the appropriate Judging Center between Monday, February 29 and 6 p.m. MDT on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.
  • Final Round entries must be received at the Final Round shipping site between Monday, May 16, 2016 and 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 25, 2016. If your entry advances to the Final Round, look for additional instructions in the competition application following the posting of the First Round results on the AHA website.

5. How do I enter?

The goal of the National Homebrew Competition application process is to maximize the number of American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members that can participate in the competition while reducing the stress of the first come, first served registration process of previous years. Read on to learn more about this process and visit the Registration & Entry Information page.

Open Registration

To avoid the time-sensitive nature of the first come, first served model of past years, the 2016 competition has an open registration period from Monday, February 1 through Sunday, February 7, 2016, during which members of the American Homebrewers Association can register for the competition. The time at which registration is submitted will have no influence on registrants, so there is no need to sign up as soon as registration opens, nor any value to waiting until the last minute.

Members Only

Registration is open only to AHA members. Members must know their member number and the email address associated with their membership in order to register. Registrants will want to be sure their contact information, including email, address, and phone number, is up to date on their member record prior to registering, as this is the information that will be used for their competition registration. Member contact information can be found by logging in to HomebrewersAssociation.org. (Members experiencing difficulties logging into the website may contact AHA Member Services at info@brewersassociation.org for assistance.)

Registration Process

Registrants will need to provide their member number and email associated with their membership. Registrants will need to indicate how many entries they would like to submit to the competition, up to a maximum of six (6) entries. Specific entry information, such as style, beer name, etc., is not necessary at this point. Registrants must select a primary judge center that they are most interested in entering, as well as any alternate locations that they would be willing to send their entries to should their primary choice not be available. Selecting alternate locations may improve the chances for getting entries in; however, do not select any locations to which you will not actually send entries.

Entrant Selection Process

Once the open registration period closes, the AHA will distribute entrants and entries, attempting to grant entrants their first choice of judge center, while balancing the primary aim of including as many entrants with as equitable distribution of entries per entrant as possible. The number of entries per entrant that is determined will be the same for all 12 competitions.

In the selection process, those registrants that participated as 2015 NHC judges, stewards or competition organizers will be given priority over other entrants. (2016 NHC judges, stewards and competition organizers will enjoy a similar privilege for the 2017 competition.)

While the AHA will strive to accommodate as many entrants as possible, the competition is limited to a total number of entries based on a cap of 750 entries per judge center. With 12 judge centers, that means a maximum of 9,000 total entries can be accepted in the 2016 competition. With more than 40,000 AHA members, it is possible that not every registrant will be accepted into the competition. Though there is a maximum of six entries per entrant in this year’s open registration for the competition, the actual maximum number of entries per entrant determined by the selection process could be fewer than six entries. For example, in 2015, the maximum number of entries per entrant was five.

Editing and Paying for Entries

The AHA will notify registrants of their entry status by email between Monday, February 8 and Wednesday, February 17. Upon notification, you will have three days to pay for the entries that were accepted into the competition. Payments will be taken and processed via credit card through the online competition system.

Once notified that your entries have been accepted into the competition, you must login to the competition website to update/edit your entries (you will not be able to add or delete any entries).

Failure to pay within three days of notification will result in dismissal from the 2016 competition and could be grounds for disqualification from the 2017 competition.

Edit each entry.

Be sure to include any additional information required for the beer style (see Part II – Instructions for Registering Your Entry). NOTE: If you have entered the entry information but do not pay the entry fee within the allotted time period, your entry information will be deleted from the system. Entries can be edited on the competition website up until the end of the shipping window.

Entry Limit per Entrant

The entry limit will be determined following the Open Registration process.  All competition entrants will be notified of eligibility and how many entries they may enter in the competition.

Pay for your entries

Pay online for your entries after you have edited the entry information for your entries. NOTE: When you have paid the entry fee, your entries are officially entered in the competition and they count against the 750 entry limit for the competition. If you have entered the entry information but have not paid the entry fee within the allotted time period, your entry information will be deleted from the system after the time has expired.

Print the labels for your entries. Attach the labels to each bottle using a rubber band; do NOT attach the bottle label with glue or tape. Your entry will be disqualified if you use glue or tape to secure the label to the bottle.

Submitting Entries

Entries should be shipped to arrive at their designated shipping location February 29 through March 9, 2016. Judging will take place in late March and in April, depending on the judge center. Pack your bottles carefully. (See Part III for Packing and Shipping suggestions.)

Drop Off or Ship your entries to the appropriate address found online under Entry Shipping/Drop-Off.

  • Do NOT send entries to a Judging Center other than the one you chose when you registered your entries.
  • Judging Centers cannot acknowledge receipt of entries – arrange for a return receipt with your shipping company, if you wish to confirm delivery of your package.
  • Packages with postage due or C.O.D. charges will NOT be accepted.

DO NOT SHIP YOUR ENTRIES VIA THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE.

6. Which category do I enter?

Enter your brew in the category and subcategory where you feel it will perform best. Judges do not see your entry form. Judges and organizers will not classify or reclassify your entry. This year, the AHA National Homebrew Competition is using the National Homebrew Competition 2016 Style Guidelines (downloadable PDF). This style guidelines is a special, modified version of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines for Beer, Mead and Cider, 2015 Edition.

7. Are there entry limitations?

  1. Maximum entry limit will be determined following the initial open registration process.
  2. Entrants may only submit one entry per subcategory. For categories that have no subcategories (Categories 10, 16, and 23), you may only submit one entry. An entrant may be an Additional Brewer for a different entry in a subcategory they have already entered as the main brewer (e.g. John Doe enters an American Pale Ale, Category 10A, and is also the Additional Brewer on an American Pale Ale submitted by Jane Smith).
  3. Your homebrew cannot have been brewed on equipment used to brew beverages for any commercial purpose, whether for commercial research, production or any other purpose, including equipment at brew-on-premises establishments.
  4. You must give the names of all brewers who helped in the brewing. (No pets/animals, please.)
  5. No employee of the Brewers Association may enter.
  6. Judges may not judge a category they have entered, and stewards may not steward a category they have entered.
  7. There are no defined regions in which you must enter; instead you must choose a Judging Center when you register for the competition. Ship all of your entries to the Judging Center you have chosen.
  8. There is an entry cap of 750 per Judging Center to ensure the integrity of the judging. If the cap is reached for a Judging Center, no further entries will be accepted for that Judging Center.

Part II: Instructions for Registering Your Entry

Registering Your Entry Online

The National Homebrew Competition requires entrants to register for the competition online using the online application (available beginning Monday, February 1, 2016 through Sunday, February 7, 2016).

  • The Online Registration system will be available for entrant registration or editing registration information from Monday, February 1, 2016 through Sunday, February 7, 2016.
  • Recipe Requirement: A recipe is NOT required to enter the First Round; however, if your entry advances to the Final Round, you must submit a recipe. Upon entering this competition, entrants agree to allow (at no cost) publication of their recipe by the Brewers Association or any of its divisions in any Brewers Association publication. Entrants will receive all due credit.
  • Return Policy: No entries will be returned whether received late or otherwise. All entries become property of the AHA.
  • Refund Policy: Refunds will be issued on an extremely limited, case-by-case basis, upon request and pending review by the AHA. Refunds will be authorized only for prohibitively extenuating circumstances that prevent paid entries from being submitted, and only in the event that the refund request is received prior to February 23, 2016. No refunds will be given after February 23, 2016. Contact the AHA National Homebrew Competition Director, Janis Gross, before February 23, 2016 to request a refund.

There is no paper entry form; ALL entries must use the online registration program.

Special Ingredients Instructions

Entries in categories 3D, 5C, 17C, 18C, 19D, 19E, 19F, 20G, 23A, 24A, 24B, 24C, 25D, 25E, 26A – 26M; plus Mead categories 27, 28, and 29; as well as Cider categories 30 and 31 require Style and/or Special Ingredients information. As a general rule, these ingredients must play a role in the overall flavor/aroma/mouthfeel of the homebrew. Conversely, a homebrew listed in a category not requiring special ingredients, should not have any special ingredients listed.

All MEAD entries (categories 27, 28, 29) must include sweetness, carbonation, and strength information.

All CIDER entries (categories 30, 31) must include sweetness, and carbonation information.

If the required information is not provided, the entry will be at a significant disadvantage for the judging, and may ultimately be disqualified.

The online entry program has a 75 character limit, please use keywords and be brief in your description. Do NOT use brand names, or geographic names, or any other proper names of special ingredients. For example, instead of “Premier malt extract,” use “malt extract;” instead of “Briess pale malt,” use “pale malt;” instead of “Washington apples,” use “apples;” instead of “Colorado clover honey,” use “clover honey,” and instead of “Sitka spruce tips,” use “spruce tips.”

If you have special instructions for the judges (e.g. request that the judges roll a bottle of Belgian Wit before serving), such instructions should also be included in the Special Ingredients section.

Entries in 3D Kellerbier You must specify whether the entry is a Pale Kellerbier (based on Helles) or an Amber Kellerbier (based on Märzen). You may specify another type of Kellerbier based on other base styles such as Pils, Bock, Schwarzbier, but you should supply the style description for the judges.

Entries in 5C Dopplebock You must specify whether the entry is a pale or dark variant.

Entries in 17C Specialty IPA You must specify strength (session, standard, double); if no strength is specified, standard will be assumed.  You must specify the specific type of Specialty IPA (Black IPA, Brown IPA, White IPA, Rye IPA, Belgian IPA, Red IPA), or combination of Specialty IPA styles (e.g. Black Rye IPA).  You may specify specific hop varieties as an aid to the judges.  Entries of a different strength version of an existing IPA subcategory (e.g. session-strength American IPA) may be entered here.

Entries in 18C Weizenbock You must specify whether the entry is a pale or dark variant.

Entries in 19D Saison You must specify the strength (table, standard, super) and the color of the entry (pale, dark).

Entries in 19E Bière de Garde You must specify blond, amber, or brown bière de garde.

Entries in 19F Clone Beer (Belgian Styles Only) You must specify the name of the commercial beer being cloned, specifications (vital statistics) for the beer, and a brief sensory description or any special ingredients.

Entries in 20G Fruit Lambic You must specify the type of fruit used.  You must also provide a carbonation level (low, medium, high) and a sweetness level (low/none, medium, high).

Entries in 23A Fruit Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must also specify the type(s) of fruit used.  Soured fruit beers that are not lambics should be entered in the appropriate subcategory of the Specialty Beer category (category 26).

Entries in 24A Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must also specify the type(s) of spices, herbs, or vegetables used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual ingredients if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. apple pie spices, curry powder, chili powder).

Entries in 24B Autumn Seasonal Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must also specify the type(s) of spices, herbs, or vegetables used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual ingredients if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. pumpkin pie spice).  The entry must contain spices, and may contain vegetables and/or sugars.

Entries in 24C Winter Seasonal Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must also specify the type of spices, sugars, fruits, or additional fermentables used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual ingredients if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. mulling spices).

Entries in 25D Classic Style Smoked Beer You must specify a Classic Style base beer.  You must also specify the type of wood or smoke, if a varietal smoke character is noticeable.

Entries in 25E Wood-Aged Beer You must specify the type of wood used, and the char level (if charred).  You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  If an unusual wood has been used, you must supply a brief description of the sensory aspects the wood adds to the beer.

Entries in 26A Brett Beer You must specify a base style for the beer style (Classic Style or generic style family), or provide a description of the ingredients/specifications/desired character.  You must specify if 100% Brett fermentation was conducted.  You may also specify the strain(s) of Brettanomyces used.

Entries in 26B Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer You must specify a description of the beer, identifying the yeast/bacteria used and either a base style, or the ingredients/specifications/target character of the beer.

Entries in 26C Wild Specialty Beer You must specify the type of fruit, spice, herb, or wood used.  You must also specify a description of the beer, identifying the yeast/bacteria used and either a base style, or the ingredients/specifications/target character of the beer.

Entries in 26D Fruit and Spice Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the type of fruit and spices, herbs, or vegetables (SHV) used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual SHV ingredients if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. apple pie spices).

Entries in 26E Specialty Fruit Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the type of fruit used.  Additionally, you must specify the type of additional fermentable sugar (if any) or any special process employed.

Entries in 26F Alternative Grain Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the type of alternative grain used.

Entries in 26G Alternative Sugar Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the type of sugar used.

Entries in 26H Specialty Smoked Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the type of wood or smoke used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the additional ingredients or processes that make this a specialty smoked beer.

Entries in 26I Specialty Wood-Aged Beer You must specify a base style for the beer, but it does not have to be a Classic Style.  You must specify the additional alcohol character with information about the barrel if relevant to the finished flavor profile.  If an unusual wood or ingredient is used, you must supply a brief description of the sensory aspects the ingredient adds to the beer.

Entries in 26J Clone Beer (Non-Belgian Styles) You must specify the name of the commercial beer being cloned, specifications (vital statistics) for the beer, and a brief sensory description or any special ingredients.

Entries in 26K Mixed-Style Beer You must specify the styles being mixed.  You may provide a brief additional description of the sensory profile or the vital statistics of the resulting beer.

Entries in 26L Experimental Beer You must specify the special nature of the experimental beer, including any special ingredients or processes that make the beer not fit anywhere else in the guidelines.  You must provide the vital statistics for the beer, and either a brief sensory description or a list of ingredients used in making the beer.

Entries in 26M Other Historical Beer You must specify a historical beer style that is not described elsewhere in the guidelines.  You must supply a description of the style for the judges in sufficient detail to allow the beer to be judged.  Beers entered with insufficient information will be at a disadvantage.

Entries in 27, 28, & 29 Mead Categories All mead entries must specify level of sweetness (dry, semi-sweet, sweet), carbonation (sparkling, petillant, still), and strength (hydromel, standard, sack). If a specific honey variety was used and the varietal character is noticeable, you may specify this in the Special Ingredients field as well.

Entries in 27A, B, C Traditional Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.

Entries in 28A Cyser You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You may specify the varieties of apples used; however, if specified, a varietal character will be expected by the judges.  (If spices are used and are noticeable, this is the wrong category to enter.)

Entries in 28B Pyment You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You may specify the varieties of grapes used; however, if specified, a varietal character will be expected by the judges.  (If spices are used and are noticeable, this is the wrong category to enter.)

Entries in 28C Berry Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the varieties of fruit used.  (If non-berry fruit is used, this is the wrong category to enter.)

Entries in 28D Stone Fruit Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the varieties of fruit used.  (If non-stone fruit or spices are used, this is the wrong category to enter.)

Entries in 28E Melomel You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the varieties of fruit used.  (If spices are used, this is the wrong category to enter.)

Entries in 29A Fruit & Spice Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the varieties of fruit used.  You must also specify the types of spices used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual spices, if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. apple pie spices).

Entries in 29B Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the herbs and/or vegetables used.  You must also specify the types of spices used; however, you don’t need to specify the individual spices, if a well-known spice blend is used (e.g. apple pie spices).

Entries in 29C Braggot You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You may specify the base style of beer or types of malt used.

Entries in 29D Historical Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the special nature of the mead, to provide the judges a description if none exists in the BJCP Style Guidelines.

Entries in 29E Experimental Mead You may specify honey varieties used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  You must specify the special nature of the mead, whether it is a combination of existing styles, an experimental mead, or some other creation.  You may list any special ingredients that impart identifiable character to the mead.

Entries in 30 and 31 Cider Categories You must specify level of sweetness (dry, medium-dry, medium, medium-sweet, or sweet) and carbonation (sparkling, petillant, still) for all cider entries.

Entries in 30A New World Cider You may specify the varieties of apples used, if a varietal character is noticeable.  If the strength is substantially above the typical range, you must divulge the reason for the increase (e.g. a particular variety of apple).

Entries in 30B English Cider You may specify variety of apple used for a single varietal cider; however, if specified, a noticeable varietal character will be expected by the judges.

Entries in 30C French Cider You may specify variety of apple used for a single varietal cider; however, if specified, a noticeable varietal character will be expected by the judges.

Entries in 30E Traditional Perry You must specify the varieties of pear used.

Entries in 31A New England Cider You must specify if the cider was barrel-fermented or aged.

Entries in 31B Cider with Other Fruit You must specify all fruit and/or fruit juices added.

Entries in 31D Ice Cider You must specify starting gravity, final gravity, or residual sugar, and alcohol level of the entry.

Entries in 31E Cider with Herbs/Spices You must specify all botanicals added.  If hops are used, you must specify variety/varieties used.

Entries in 31F Specialty Cider/Perry You must specify all major ingredients and adjuncts used.

 

Part III: Packing and Shipping

It is your responsibility to adequately pack and ship your entries to the correct Judging Center and have them arrive intact. Carefully pack your entries in a sturdy box. Line the inside of your package with a plastic trash bag. Partition and pack each bottle with adequate packaging material. Please refrain from using packing “peanuts” if possible; use bubble wrap or newspaper instead. The Judging Centers make efforts to recycle packaging material whenever possible. Do not over pack! Your package should weigh less than 25 pounds.

Read “How to Pack Your Beer,” a downloadable PDF file from Zymurgy Spring 1991 (Vol. 14, No. 1) for excellent advice on how to save time and money, and avoid broken bottles. Also refer to “The Competitive Edge,” an article about entering competitions in Zymurgy Spring 1996 (Vol. 19, No. 1).

It is not against any federal laws to ship your entries via a privately-owned shipping company for analytical purposes. However, IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHIP ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES VIA THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE. Private shipping carrier rules and regulations concerning the shipment of beer or alcoholic beverages vary. We strongly encourage you to check with your shipping carrier prior to shipping your entry.

International Entrants

Be aware that entries shipped internationally are often required by Customs to have proper documentation. These packages might be opened and/or returned to the shipper by Customs Officials at their discretion. It is solely the entrant’s responsibility to follow all applicable laws and regulations. If you are shipping entries internationally, contact the Site Director of your Judging Site via e-mail to let them know to expect your shipment.

Part IV: Judging & Awards

Review the beer checklist scoresheetscoresheet instructions and beer fault list to familiarize yourself with the judging process.

A. Judging

  1. First Round judging of all entries will be done at the twelve (12) First Round Judging Centers March 12-April 17, 2016.
  2. First Round entries that place first, second, or third in their category with a score of 30 or better qualify for the Final Round of the 2016 National Homebrew Competition. If any of your entries qualify for the Final Round judging, download the letter from your account in the competition application for instructions on how, when and where to send entries (three (3) bottles per qualifying entry) for Final Round judging. Contestants are advised to refrigerate or properly store potential Final Round entries to minimize changes in character. RE-BREWING recipes of entries advancing from First Round IS PERMITTED.
  3. The Judging Center directors will strive to mail score sheets with judges’ comments to entrants by May 13, 2016.
  4. Final Round judging of qualifying entries will be done at the AHA National Homebrewers Conference in Baltimore, MD, on Thursday, June 9, 2016.
  5. Volunteers: Judges and stewards are needed for the NHC First and Final Rounds. Qualified and interested individuals are encouraged to register as a volunteer for the competition they entered. For more than one competition, or volunteer for a competition other than the one in which they have entries, using the competition application.
  6. All decisions by competition organizers are final.

B. First Round Awards

  1. Ribbons will be awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place finishers scoring 30 or higher in each category from the twelve (12) U.S. First Round NHC competition sites. Entries must score 30 or better to place in the First Round and advance to the Final Round, although scoring a 30 or better does not guarantee advancement to the Final Round. If there are not three entries scoring 30 or better in a given category, judges will advance fewer than three entries for that category.
  2. Certificates will be provided electronically until August 2016 to First Round brewers based on judges’ scoring and the following standards:
    • Gold-Certificate winners have scores of 38-50
    • Silver-Certificate winners have scores of 30 to 37
    • Bronze-Certificate winners have scores of 25 to 29
    • Certificates are awarded separately from the ribbons and DO NOT indicate winning first, second or third place within a category or advancement to the Final Round.

C. Final Round Awards

  1. First-, second- and third-place winners in each category will receive gold, silver or bronze medals, respectively.
  2. First-place winning entries in each of the 26 beer categories will compete in a best-of-show (BOS) judging. The BOS winner will be awarded Homebrewer of the Year.
  3. First-place winning entries in each of the 3 mead categories will compete in a best-of-show (BOS) judging. The BOS winner will be awarded Meadmaker of the Year.
  4. First-place winning entries in each of the 2 cider categories will compete in a best-of-show (BOS) judging. The BOS winner will be awarded Cidermaker of the Year.
  5. The Ninkasi Award will be given to the entrant who accumulates the most points in the Final Round of this competition. To be eligible for the award, entrants must have at least one entry place in the 26 beer categories. Six points are awarded for a first place, four points for a second place and two points for a third place. Individual members of a group of brewers earn points as a group and do not earn points on an individual basis. There will only be one Ninkasi Award winner. In the event of a tie for the most points in the Final Round, the following tie-breaker criteria will apply.

    1. The number of medals earned in the Final Round will be tallied, and the brewer with the most medals will be declared the winner. If a tie still exists,
    2. Points will be calculated for tying brewers’ entries that placed in the First Round of the NHC based on the same scale as used in the Final Round. The brewer with the most points in the First Round will be declared the winner. If a tie still exists,
    3. The number of entries qualifying for the Final Round will be tallied for each tying brewer, and the brewer with the most entries placing in the First Round will be declared the winner. In case a tie still exists,
    4. The total number of entries registered for the First Round of the competition will be tallied for each tying brewer, and the brewer with the fewest registered entries will be declared the winner. If a tie still exists,
    5. The winner will be selected using a random selection method. A random method such as rock-paper-scissors, steel cage death match, or a coin flip will be applied at the discretion of the competition organizers to determine the winner.
  6. NHC Homebrew Club Award will be awarded to the club that accumulates the most total points in all categories of beer, mead and cider in the Final Round. In the Final Round, six points are awarded for a first place, four points for a second place and two points for a third place. The NHC Homebrew Club Award will only be awarded to one winning club. In the event of a tie for the most points in the Final Round, the following tie-breaker criteria will apply.
    1. The number of medals earned in the Final round will be tallied, and the club with the most medals will be declared the winning club. If a tie still exists,
    2. Points will be calculated for the tying clubs’ entries that placed in the First Round of the NHC based on the same scale as used in the Final Round. In the First Round, a club may only receive points for a maximum of three awards per category, the highest three awards shall be counted, not to exceed a 12-point maximum. The club with the most points in the First Round will be declared the winner.
    3. For your club to receive points in the National Homebrew Competition, the club must be registered with the AHA before December 1, 2015 and you must have included the club name when you registered your entries online. Please check the AHA Homebrew Club Directory to be sure your club’s AHA registration is up to date. NOTE: New clubs registered after December 1, 2015 may not appear in the drop-down club list of the online registration program. If this is the case, select “Other” from the drop menu.
  7. Gambrinus Club Award will be awarded to the club garnering the most Final Round points per total club entries (Final Round points / # of NHC entries from club). To be eligible, clubs must have a minimum of 5 club members entering the First Round, and a minimum of 2 club members advancing to and at least one entry placing in the Final Round of the competition. Six points are awarded for a first place, four points for a second place and two points for a third place. There will be only one Gambrinus Club Award winner. In the event of a tie, the tying club’s points/entry will be calculated using the points from both the First and Final Rounds of the NHC ([First Round points + Final Round points] / # of NHC entries from club). Points for the First Round of the NHC are based on the same scale as used in the Final Round. The tying club with the higher points/entry value over both the First and Final Round will then be determined the winner.
    1. For your club to receive points in the National Homebrew Competition, the club must be registered with the AHA before Decmber 1, 2015 and you must have included the club name when you registered your entries online. Please check the AHA Homebrew Club Directory to be sure your club’s AHA registration is up to date.
    2. NOTE: New clubs registered after December 1, 2015 may not appear in the drop-down club list of the online registration program. If this is the case, select “Other” from the drop-down menu.
  8. At the discretion of competition organizers and/or judges, awards may not be given if the quality of an entry is deemed undeserving of an award.

Part V: Entry Location Information

For information on shipping addresses and drop-off locations, please see the Submitting Entries section of the registration and entry information page. For tips on how to pack and ship your entries, download “How to Pack Your Beer” by Russ Wigglesworth.

Businesses receiving National Homebrew Competition entries cannot answer questions regarding the competition. All competition questions should be directed to nhc@brewersassociation.org or see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Part VI: Category Listings

Starting in 2016, the AHA National Homebrew Competition will usethe National Homebrew Competitions 2016 Style Guidelines which are based on the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) 2015 Style Guidelines for Beer, Mead and Cider. A downloadable version of the NHC 2016 Style Guidelines with the complete style descriptions is available here.

The following is a listing of categories and subcategories for the 2016 National Homebrew Competition.

NHC Category 1. LIGHT LAGER

  1. (BJCP Style 1A.) American Light Lager
  2. (BJCP Style 1B.) American Lager
  3. (BJCP Style 2A.) International Pale Lager
  4. (BJCP Style 4A.) Munich Helles
  5. (BJCP Style 4B.) Festbier
  6. (BJCP Style 5C.) German Helles Exportbier

NHC Category 2. PILSNER

  1. (BJCP Style 5A.) German Leichtbier
  2. (BJCP Style 3A.) Czech Pale Lager
  3. (BJCP Style 5D.) German Pils
  4. (BJCP Style 3B.) Czech Premium Pale Lager
  5. (BJCP Style 27.) Pre-Prohibition Lager (Historical Beer)

NHC Category 3. EUROPEAN AMBER LAGER

  1. (BJCP Style 7A.) Vienna Lager
  2. (BJCP Style 3C.) Czech Amber Lager
  3. (BJCP Style 6A.) Märzen
  4. (BJCP Style 7C.) Kellerbier (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 4. DARK LAGER

  1. (BJCP Style 2C.) International Dark Lager
  2. (BJCP Style 8A.) Munich Dunkel
  3. (BJCP Style 3D.) Czech Dark Lager
  4. (BJCP Style 8B.) Schwarzbier

NHC Category 5. BOCK

  1. (BJCP Style 4C.) Helles Bock
  2. (BJCP Style 6C.) Dunkles Bock
  3. (BJCP Style 9A.) Doppelbock (Requires special ingredient information)
  4. (BJCP Style 9B.) Eisbock

NHC Category 6. LIGHT HYBRID BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 1C.) Cream Ale
  2. (BJCP Style 18A.) Blonde Ale
  3. (BJCP Style 5B.) Kölsch
  4. (BJCP Style 1D.) American Wheat Beer

NHC Category 7. AMBER HYBRID BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 2B.) International Amber Lager
  2. (BJCP Style 27.) Kentucky Common (Historical Beer)
  3. (BJCP Style 19B.) California Common
  4. (BJCP Style 7B.) Altbier

NHC Category 8. ENGLISH PALE ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 11A.) Ordinary Bitter
  2. (BJCP Style 11B.) Best Bitter
  3. (BJCP Style 11C.) Strong Bitter
  4. (BJCP Style 12A.) British Golden Ale
  5. (BJCP Style 12B.) Australian Sparkling Ale

NHC Category 9. SCOTTISH AND IRISH ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 14A.) Scottish Light
  2. (BJCP Style 14B.) Scottish Heavy
  3. (BJCP Style 14C.) Scottish Export
  4. (BJCP Style 15A.) Irish Red Ale
  5. (BJCP Style 17C.) Wee Heavy

NHC Category 10. AMERICAN PALE ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 18B.) American Pale Ale

NHC Category 11. OTHER AMERICAN ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 19A.) American Amber Ale
  2. (BJCP Style 19C.) American Brown Ale

NHC Category 12. ENGLISH BROWN ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 13A.) Dark Mild
  2. (BJCP Style 27.) London Brown Ale (Historical Beer)
  3. (BJCP Style 13B.) British Brown Ale

NHC Category 13. PORTER

  1. (BJCP Style 13C.) English Porter
  2. (BJCP Style 27.) Pre-Prohibition Porter (Historical Beer)
  3. (BJCP Style 20A.) American Porter
  4. (BJCP Style 9C.) Baltic Porter

NHC Category 14. STOUT

  1. (BJCP Style 15B.) Irish Stout
  2. (BJCP Style 15C.) Irish Extra Stout
  3. (BJCP Style 16A.) Sweet Stout
  4. (BJCP Style 16B.) Oatmeal Stout

NHC Category 15. STRONG STOUT

  1. (BJCP Style 16C.) Tropical Stout
  2. (BJCP Style 16D.) Foreign Extra Stout
  3. (BJCP Style 20B.) American Stout
  4. (BJCP Style 20C.) Imperial Stout

NHC Category 16. AMERICAN IPA

  1. (BJCP Style 21A.) American IPA

NHC Category 17. INDIA PALE ALE (IPA)

  1. (BJCP Style 12C.) English IPA
  2. (BJCP Style 22A.) Double IPA
  3. (BJCP Style 21B.) Specialty IPA (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 18. GERMAN WHEAT & RYE BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 10A.) Weissbier
  2. (BJCP Style 10B.) Dunkles Weissbier
  3. (BJCP Style 10C.) Weizenbock
  4. (BJCP Style 27.) Roggenbier (Historical Beer)
  5. (BJCP Style 27.) Sahti (Historical Beer)

NHC Category 19. BELGIAN & FRENCH ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 24A.) Witbier
  2. (BJCP Style 26A.) Trappist Single
  3. (BJCP Style 24B.) Belgian Pale Ale
  4. (BJCP Style 25B.) Saison
  5. (BJCP Style 24C.) Bière de Garde
  6. (BJCP Style 34A.) Clone Beer (Belgian Styles Only) (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 20. SOUR ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 23A.) Berliner Weisse
  2. (BJCP Style 27.) Gose (Historical Beer)
  3. (BJCP Style 23B.) Flanders Red Ale
  4. (BJCP Style 23C.) Oud Bruin
  5. (BJCP Style 23D.) Lambic
  6. (BJCP Style 23E.) Gueuze
  7. (BJCP Style 23F.) Fruit Lambic (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 21. BELGIAN STRONG ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 25A.) Belgian Blond Ale
  2. (BJCP Style 26B.) Belgian Dubbel
  3. (BJCP Style 26C.) Belgian Tripel
  4. (BJCP Style 25C.) Belgian Golden Strong Ale
  5. (BJCP Style 26D.) Belgian Dark Strong Ale

NHC Category 22. STRONG ALE

  1. (BJCP Style 17B.) Old Ale
  2. (BJCP Style 17A.) British Strong Ale
  3. (BJCP Style 22B.) American Strong Ale
  4. (BJCP Style 17D.) English Barleywine
  5. (BJCP Style 22C.) American Barleywine
  6. (BJCP Style 22D.) Wheatwine

NHC Category 23. FRUIT BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 29A.) Fruit Beer (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 24. SPICE/HERB/VEGETABLE BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 30A.) Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  2. (BJCP Style 30B.) Autumn Seasonal Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  3. (BJCP Style 30C.) Winter Seasonal Beer (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 25. SMOKE-FLAVORED AND WOOD-AGED BEER

  1. (BJCP Style 27.) Piwo Grodziskie (Historical Beer)
  2. (BJCP Style 27.) Lichtenhainer (Historical Beer)
  3. (BJCP Style 6B.) Rauchbier
  4. (BJCP Style 32A.) Classic Style Smoked Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  5. (BJCP Style 33A.) Wood-Aged Beer (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 26. SPECIALTY BEER (Requires special ingredient information)

  1. (BJCP Style 28A.) Brett Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  2. (BJCP Style 28B.) Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  3. (BJCP Style 28C.) Wild Specialty Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  4. (BJCP Style 29B.) Fruit and Spice Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  5. (BJCP Style 29C.) Specialty Fruit Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  6. (BJCP Style 31A.) Alternative Grain Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  7. (BJCP Style 31B.) Alternative Sugar Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  8. (BJCP Style 32B.) Specialty Smoked Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  9. (BJCP Style 33B.) Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  10. (BJCP Style 34A.) Clone Beer (non-Belgian Styles) (Requires special ingredient information)
  11. (BJCP Style 34B.) Mixed-Style Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  12. (BJCP Style 34C.) Experimental Beer (Requires special ingredient information)
  13. (BJCP Style 27.) Other Historical Beer (Requires special ingredient information)

NHC Category 27. TRADITIONAL MEAD

  1. (BJCP Style M1A.) Dry Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  2. (BJCP Style M1B.) Semi-Sweet Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  3. (BJCP Style M1C.) Sweet Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)

NHC Category 28. FRUIT MEAD

  1. (BJCP Style M2A.) Cyser (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  2. (BJCP Style M2B.) Pyment (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  3. (BJCP Style M2C.) Berry Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  4. (BJCP Style M2D.) Stone Fruit Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  5. (BJCP Style M2E.) Melomel (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)

NHC Category 29. SPICE & SPECIALTY MEAD

  1. (BJCP Style M3A.) Fruit and Spice Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  2. (BJCP Style M3B.) Spice, Herb or Vegetable Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  3. (BJCP Style M4A.) Braggot (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  4. (BJCP Style M4B.) Historical Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)
  5. (BJCP Style M4C.) Experimental Mead (Requires special ingredients & Mead information)

NHC Category 30. STANDARD CIDER & PERRY

  1. (BJCP Style C1A.) New World Cider (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  2. (BJCP Style C1B.) English Cider (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  3. (BJCP Style C1C.) French Cider (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  4. (BJCP Style C1D.) New World Perry (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  5. (BJCP Style C1E.) Traditional Perry (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)

NHC Category 31. SPECIALTY CIDER & PERRY

  1. (BJCP Style C2A.) New England Cider (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  2. (BJCP Style C2B.) Cider with Other Fruit (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  3. (BJCP Style C2C.) Applewine (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  4. (BJCP Style C2D.) Ice Cider (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  5. (BJCP Style C2E.) Cider with Herbs/Spices (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)
  6. (BJCP Style C2F.) Specialty Cider/Perry (Requires special ingredients & Cider information)