But that potentially means 30K entries
I guess the real question is, how many enteries would we have this year if there was no cap? And how many entrants? My brother and I are both members, brew exclusively together, and equally collaborate on all of our beers, and (try to) enter as one. We intended to put two and possibly 3 beers in.
How many members are not actually brewers but maintain membership for the awesome discounts at local establishments (that pays the price of my membership for sure) or to get into GABF on Saturday afternoon?
How many members are former homebrewers turned pro, that just like to stay connected to their roots and get Zymurgy? I imagine that they are ineligible to enter, or it would be pretty embarrassing for Ken Grossman to win a gold at NHC for an American Pale Ale?
How many are like Kai and don't compete?
If we gave 1 beer entry to everyone who wanted a slot, how many would we have?
As for me, I don't like competing all that much, but it would be nice to have a shiny medal to validate my efforts. I entered my first beers in competitions only a few (like 10) years ago after I felt my beers hit a plateau. I got great feedback (and follow up when I asked for it) from judges which helped me as a brewer. I like the NHC as I wanted to support and benefit from a group I am a member of.
I don't put beers in every year either.
To be part of the solution (and to get better at tasting and brewing, I admit) I started volunteering as a steward for the 1st round NHC in 2010, and finally took my first BJCP exam this year. The NHC 1st round is only sort of fun to be involved in....it is far more work than fun. My impression is that it is already too big....too many beers (at least in certain catagories), too few judges, not enough space or time at the location to comfortably judge beers.
It is also my understanding that other local competitions held by some of the bigger clubs is bursting at the seams with entries pushing the limits of their own entry caps....many of those are like 300+ entries, and the guys running those comps are the same ones volunteering and organizing at the NHC sites. So the qualifier idea may not work, either.
We could do a winter and summer olympics style with certain catagories only judged at one or the other....but then we'd be complaining twice a year about this.