With the available malts you could aim for a Schwarzbier. I agree that the wheat is your best option when you don't have Carafa Special.
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I'm talking about registering for the competition, not the conference. The judges sit for hours writing about the beer; I don't see anything unfair about giving them access to the competition the following year.
What about paying judges. Raising the entry fee by 100% AND having an entry limit of 5 would still prevent the NHC from being a rich brewer game. If you pay judges you may attract more of them.
I've never been comfortable with the idea of taking money for judging, but if judging this year got me reduced/free entry next year or even just gave me guaranteed access - well I wouldn't turn it down...
The pre-qualification argument to reduce entries is not a good one. That's what the first round of this competition is for. If you want to enter a competition where you have to pre-qualify then google MCAB and proceed from there.