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General Category => Events => Topic started by: wxgod on February 27, 2013, 03:16:34 PM

Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: wxgod on February 27, 2013, 03:16:34 PM
Gary, community, et al...
I would venture that when asked why you became a homebrewer your answer would NOT be "I love entering competitions". Still, after awhile, many of us desire feedback. It helps us get better. It's an invaluable part of the learning process. Plus, awards are cool affirmation that you are figuring out how to make killer beer (or have captured lightning in a bottle - which is still cool).

So - times like this, with the issues for 2013 NHC this year, can lead to a lot of frustration. On the whole, the homebrewing community is pretty laid back and understanding (relax, have a homebrew), but that doesn't mean we don't get irked at times.

With that in mind, I would like to *respectfully* offer up some suggestions to how potential issues like this could be addressed/eliminated in the future. Yes, I understand this could fall under the "too many cooks in the kitchen" mantra. And yes, I understand that the AHA governing committee and those that are in charge of the NHC has looked at these issues ad nauseam. But, perhaps, a brainstorming session from a group of AHA homebrewers might lend a kernel or two of goodness that, when applied, can help with these issues (and/or future ones).

Scarcity.

This issue is partially due to software and hardware limitations, but its mostly due to scarcity. Because there is a limit to how many entries can be accepted at each location (and you can only enter at one), individuals "have to" register and complete their entries ASAP if they have any hope of getting in. Its like trying to get into Ticketmaster for Springsteen tickets. If it doesn't happen within 10 minutes, you are out of luck.

My proposals...

1) Start registration early - perhaps a week in advance. BUT, don't enter beers at this time.

2) When opened for beer entries, LIMIT TO 5. Come on - 15 entries? Seriously, that is just greedy. If everyone who got in did that, it would be 50 people per site.  Limit to 5 - you have at least 150 homebrewers who get the opportunity to enter.

3) Give all those who enter their 1 to 5 beers ONE (1) week to complete their registration (pay). So, if beer entries start on Monday, March 4th for instance, beer entries AND payments must be made by midnight on Sunday, March 10th.

4) After this time, the ability to enter MORE beers is opened - an additional 5 entries can be entered for those that entered 5 the first week, for 10 total. Let's say start that on Monday, March 11th at 5 pm EST (in this current example). By doing it this way, you give MANY more homebrewers the opportunity to get a beer in. And, if there are slots left over, well, you can have your "free for all" there. BUT - the bottom line is more opportunities, more diversity, more happy brewers. Let's not be greedy.

For example: when registration opened this year, it was mid week, during the middle part of the day. Most were probably at work. Many probably didn't have access to a computer. Perhaps they don't get home until 6 pm. Chances are, if they would have tried to login after that they would have discovered that all the regions were filled. Not really fair is it?

Let's curb our "need" to enter every beer we have in our stash (some likely great, others not so much). Changing the rules will prevent us from being greedy, help curb this "scarcity" issue, and give so many more homebrewers a chance to get in. It will also easier on the software/hardware. It's about community. I've helped run our local club for years now - and the word "greedy" has never come to mind. If we can't police ourselves, let's set up some rules that will help us.

All in all, I think these are sensible ideas for sensible solutions. They aren't necessarily the right ones, but at least maybe it's the start of a dialogue between us and the NHC - to make a better competition for all.

Thanks for you time...happy brewing!
Todd
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 27, 2013, 03:46:46 PM
The 15 limit is new this year, in an attempt to open up more entries. That had to have debate, as there is this thing called the Ninkasi award. It is based on the most points in the second round. Do you know there have been ties in something like 3 or 4 of the last 5 years? One year it was a 3 way tie. The tiebreaker was first round points. To have the opportunity for first round points there were good brewers entering > 30 or even 40+ beers. With fewer beers they have added a lot of other tie breakers, maybe up to 7, with a coin flip as the final tie breaker.

Get rid of the Ninkasi and have 5 entries? You can look up the chance of that on notgonnahappen.com.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on February 27, 2013, 03:53:04 PM
NHC is not about getting feedback about your beers.  If it were, then no one would ever complain about not being able to enter it.  You could always enter ANY homebrew competition for that kind of feedback.

NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.  You can possibly become the next Jamil or Gordon by doing well in NHC.  If you disagree then you are lying to yourself

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.








Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: wxgod on February 27, 2013, 04:04:52 PM
NHC is not about getting feedback about your beers.  If it were, then no one would ever complain about not being able to enter it.  You could always enter ANY homebrew competition for that kind of feedback.

NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.  You can possibly become the next Jamil or Gordon by doing well in NHC.  If you disagree then you are lying to yourself

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.

BBFK - note, I did get in. I did pay for my enteries. I was lucky that I was home to do so. I don't know many people that can afford to take off work to register for any competition, let alone a beer one. And can you image how upset they would be if they did with what happened this year? I am sure the NHC is not going to reimburse everyone for the loss of a day off on account of the registration process not going smoothly.

I understand your points. I was just trying to start a dialogue. I was stating one point of view. Note that I never said it was the "right one". Doubtful that there is one. Disagreement is part of the process and can be healthy.

You mentioned that so many people "get upset when they can't enter", yet you seem to disregarded my suggest of starting with a limit - thus allowing for MORE people to enter, and then expanding that limit after a set amount of time. This would seem to address your point with people not "getting in" while also allowing for the ablity to enter more entries after a set period. 

Anyway - here is hoping they can iron out the issues in a short manner, and come up with some solutions that will make most happy.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: wxgod on February 27, 2013, 04:13:45 PM
The 15 limit is new this year, in an attempt to open up more entries. That had to have debate, as there is this thing called the Ninkasi award. It is based on the most points in the second round. Do you know there have been ties in something like 3 or 4 of the last 5 years? One year it was a 3 way tie. The tiebreaker was first round points. To have the opportunity for first round points there were good brewers entering > 30 or even 40+ beers. With fewer beers they have added a lot of other tie breakers, maybe up to 7, with a coin flip as the final tie breaker.

Get rid of the Ninkasi and have 5 entries? You can look up the chance of that on notgonnahappen.com.

Having been an AHA member for awhile (and going to one conference), I am familar with the Ninkasi award, but thank you for pointing it out to me.

I understand your points - very valid. Did not know about all the tie breakers. So thanks for that info. All I was trying to do was present another option. It has the potential to lessen the crush on the software/hardware, and allow for more opportunities to more brewers. It does not necessarily mitigate the Ninkasi award.

The forum is full of individuals lamenting that they couldn't get in their 2 to 3 beers they wanted. They weren't going for the full Monty of 15. They just wanted to get in their "best", as they saw them. This was part of my point - my opinion - that many who enter are just trying to enter a few. See how they do. Hope to make the final round. They don't have 15 beers to enter, let alone 15 GOOD beers. But they want the opportunity. In many ways, by allowing such a large number initially, it prevents many of these kinds of brewers the chance to see if they can get "that glory" that you and BBKF speak of.

Again, I was just presenting another option, and as I stated - not necessarily the right one.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 04:25:27 PM
at this point I don't see how everyone, or even most, can be made happy.  Last year, having a region full and the whole competition 2/3 full in 8 hours was uncharted territory, yet interest seems to still have jumped by another order of magnitude.  If you believe the numbers listed on the 11 regions, we filled up 90% of an 8250-entry competition in barely an hour of the system actually working.
limit to 10, or 5? - there is only room for 1/4 of the membership to even enter a single entry! 

The average is 3.25 entries per person right now (again, assuming the numbers on the regions are correct...)  Last year it was 1733 people averaging 4.5 entries - way less than 10% of the membership.

cheers--
--Michael

P.S.  I don't care much about fame, but glory?  Sure, I admit want to beat the rest of you yahoos!   8)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: mr_bob on February 27, 2013, 04:30:01 PM
I think those are good suggestions for better managing the process.

However, it may be time to create a tiered competition structure where you have to qualify to enter the NHC.

That way if you are looking for just feedback, you use a local competition, working your way up to "fame" at the NHC.

That way, there would be less collisions at the NHC level. Most competitive events have this type of structure.

For instance, not everyone can enter the olympics directly, if they are fast on their ipad. Although, if they did the Olympics would be a whole lot more fun to watch.

Good luck to those that made it in.
Bob
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: rcemech on February 27, 2013, 04:30:13 PM
I'm hearing from AHA members on other boards that are angry not because ti filled up, but because AHA members aren't given a chance to register and enter before non AHA members. I can see their point, we make it possible for the competition to exist and should have first right of refusal.

I do think limiting entries to 5 beers is better.

I think the timing for entering was ridiculous. Servers should have been rented in the various time zones and opened via staged times allowing for people to be off work or on the weekend.

I really like the idea of pre-registering and then having a separate entry time. I think that would definitely ease the demand on the servers.

The logistics involved in satisfying the demands of the Homebrewing Community now are staggering. I think it would be possible to fill 15 locations around the country based on the demand this year. Just having enough BJCP judges is tough.

I wish everyone that has entered or may enter, good luck.

Cheers.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on February 27, 2013, 04:37:28 PM
It would be fairly easy, if not done already, to associate your AHA member number with your entry requests. From there you create a system wherein you get a certain number of entries allowed per membership 'age' in years, with rollover. Everybody gets 3 to start, for example, and people who haven't entered before get priority over those who have entered every year.

Or something like that.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: jstein3 on February 27, 2013, 04:39:12 PM
There were obviously issues abound with the registration, hence the need to suspend it after just a few hours. I am certain those in the know of everything that occurred will come to reasonable solutions in the future.

I for one also took time out off of work to ensure I was able to get my beers entered.  Not sure if any else had my experience, but the email with the links never made it into my inbox until after 5pm.  By that time, I had already found the posting from Janis with the links, but late enough that the two closest sites to me were already over booked, but in enough time to get into a third.  Unfortunately, I got as far as entering me into the system and they suspended registration before I got any beers entered.  So now I am kinda in, but no guarantees - if the system comes back up while I am at work because I can't take the whole week off, guess I am out even though I planned time off to get in.

I am sure the 15 limit came after much debate and by looking at the number of entrants/entry over the past years is way above what the average brewer is submitting.

Over the past several years, I have tried some different strategies on my way to "fame and glory" of winning in the NHC.  Best I've done is to win in the first round, but never the second.  My excitement this year being that the finals are in my back yard had me double the amount of entries I wanted in compared to the past.  To help my chances, what I have done was to enter as many of the beers into recent, local contests and planned on submitting those entries that had either won in those contests, or scored 38 or better in categories that were flooded with entries but didn't win.  My theory is, I am upping my game in the NHC and giving myself the best opportunity to get as many of my entries to the second round as possible.  So, one suggestion to help improve the quality at the grand poobah of contests may be to require entries to the first round have placed top 3 in category at an AHA/BJCP sanctioned contest in the year prior to the NHC it is to be entered.  This may alter the number of entries or brewers, or not, but would up the ante.

If the issue is system overload, pre-registration could simply be get your personal info loaded and number of entries you have to submit and then get a voucher from the system to get people into and out of the it quickly and efficiently.  Then, following the pre-registration period, which could be pared down from a week to a couple days, or not, provide a couple day window for folks to enter the particulars of their entries and pay.  Once the voucher expires, it is forfeited and can go back to general enrollment based on first come/first served if there are spots available at the site you are registered for.  You can limit the vouchers per entrant at any number, you would allow time for people to get all their intended entries in based on first in/first out for the pre-registration (i.e. remove the complaint that I can't type fast enough or the system didn't process fast enough for me to get all my entries in), and like now, if you don't pay, you are out and others can get back in and possibly enter all the beers they want.

If all of this was already considered or tried in the past, I apologize for redundancy, there are a lot of folks with much higher brain function than me that will figure this out!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 27, 2013, 04:57:34 PM
There were obviously issues abound with the registration, hence the need to suspend it after just a few hours. I am certain those in the know of everything that occurred will come to reasonable solutions in the future.

I for one also took time out off of work to ensure I was able to get my beers entered.  Not sure if any else had my experience, but the email with the links never made it into my inbox until after 5pm.  By that time, I had already found the posting from Janis with the links, but late enough that the two closest sites to me were already over booked, but in enough time to get into a third.  Unfortunately, I got as far as entering me into the system and they suspended registration before I got any beers entered.  So now I am kinda in, but no guarantees - if the system comes back up while I am at work because I can't take the whole week off, guess I am out even though I planned time off to get in.

I am sure the 15 limit came after much debate and by looking at the number of entrants/entry over the past years is way above what the average brewer is submitting.

Over the past several years, I have tried some different strategies on my way to "fame and glory" of winning in the NHC.  Best I've done is to win in the first round, but never the second.  My excitement this year being that the finals are in my back yard had me double the amount of entries I wanted in compared to the past.  To help my chances, what I have done was to enter as many of the beers into recent, local contests and planned on submitting those entries that had either won in those contests, or scored 38 or better in categories that were flooded with entries but didn't win.  My theory is, I am upping my game in the NHC and giving myself the best opportunity to get as many of my entries to the second round as possible.  So, one suggestion to help improve the quality at the grand poobah of contests may be to require entries to the first round have placed top 3 in category at an AHA/BJCP sanctioned contest in the year prior to the NHC it is to be entered.  This may alter the number of entries or brewers, or not, but would up the ante.

If the issue is system overload, pre-registration could simply be get your personal info loaded and number of entries you have to submit and then get a voucher from the system to get people into and out of the it quickly and efficiently.  Then, following the pre-registration period, which could be pared down from a week to a couple days, or not, provide a couple day window for folks to enter the particulars of their entries and pay.  Once the voucher expires, it is forfeited and can go back to general enrollment based on first come/first served if there are spots available at the site you are registered for.  You can limit the vouchers per entrant at any number, you would allow time for people to get all their intended entries in based on first in/first out for the pre-registration (i.e. remove the complaint that I can't type fast enough or the system didn't process fast enough for me to get all my entries in), and like now, if you don't pay, you are out and others can get back in and possibly enter all the beers they want.

If all of this was already considered or tried in the past, I apologize for redundancy, there are a lot of folks with much higher brain function than me that will figure this out!

My $0.02:

In my opinion this competition should be open to as many AHA members as possible.  Each member should have the same opportunity to enter as any other member.  If there are more that 8250 (11 regions times 750 entries) members that would like to enter the competition then we need to randomly pick (lottery) who gets to enter.  I would be surprised if we are at that limit, but if this is truly an open competition then it has to be this way. 

I was scooped on this but here is what I was crafting about pre-registration...

A simple pre-registration would help immensely.  First it locks in the number of members who are allowed to participate. If the number is more than 8250 then you must randomly pick who is allowed to enter. Assuming the number of entrants will be less than 8250, then you need to ask each entrant how many entries they would like to enter (1-15).  Most likely the number of entries from this query will be higher than 8250.  Any entries over 8250 are then taken away from those entrants who requested the most number of entries.  You simply let each person know how many entries they are allowed at this point.  Finally you give each entrant at least a week to get their entries registered and paid for.  The few slots that are left over can be opened up to the public or added to the entrants that requested more entries to begin with.  This should make registration much less painful and stressful for all.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on February 27, 2013, 05:00:40 PM
NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.

Then why are so many of them entering bad beers? It seems to me that a fairly simple solution is to require NHC entries to have done reasonably well (say, a score >30) in another BJCP competition. You can't get into the US Open without playing a qualifier.

Admittedly, trying to vet all those qualifiers (or do spot checks) would be a logistical headache, but it can't be any worse than what Janis and Gary's inboxes look like this morning.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on February 27, 2013, 05:04:29 PM
I am one of the "disappointed" many.  I was on my smartphone *my only option at work* at 1:07pm Mountain.  I tried a number of times, was denied access to enter beer info.  Came back to the site later in the day to find that they supposedly suspended the entries, and logged on at night to see if they had a solution, only to find that my region was filled a half hour before I logged on.  What happened to the suspention?  Even that process wasn't fair....it encouraged a trusting person that he still had a chance later in the day.

I think it is time to face the fact that Ninkasi was a great idea when the organization was small and entries were needed to have a healthy national competition.  And because now the Ninkasi can propel a homebrewer to rock star status is the whole reason we should look real critically at it.  What is the NHC competition and conference (and the AHA) all about anyway?

Telling me to get over the fact that I don't have the right computer with the right kind of browser on my desk at work or the fact that my work blocked the access, or I don't have time to take off from work for my hobby, doesn't mean that I don't indeed have the one finest beer in the land to enter.  Not letting my one beer and 14 other peoples' one finest beer in favor of some one person with 5 or 10 great beers and 5-10 mediocre ones just cheapens their win anyway....they are not necessarily competing against the best, just the most committed.

I don't see any other way unless there is a lottery.  Each person gets 15 chances and we draw randomly....kind of like hunting season.  There will be years you get to enter a number of beers, there will be years that you get to choose your best one, and sometimes you stay home.  Even in hunting you may wish to pass up an easy kill on a small prey to hope for the chance for

I am sure there are other workable ideas too, and they should be heard.  But I would vote for the widest possible inclusion even if that means changing or elimination of the Ninkasi tradition.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 27, 2013, 05:05:04 PM
I've stated this on another forum and I'll repost it here. This is how I propose changing the NHC entry problem if I'm elected to the governing committee.

To fix the server overload, registration would happen for each region on a cascading basis. For example, region 1 would open up at 12pm, region 2 at 1pm, ect ect until all regions have been opened up.

In addition, on the first day of registration only AHA members could enter in their home regions. You wouldn't have someone who lives in region 1 entering their beers in region 2.

Then on the next day, we would move over to open registration. During this period non AHA members could enter, and AHA members could enter in regions in which they don't live.

We would have to do a year of this and take a very close look at the numbers before we make any rash decisions on adjusting the max number of entries per person. If regions filled up too fast then we would need to see if it was due to a few amount of people entering a lot of entries, or if there were too many people in the region already. For example the Pacific Northwest region is overcrowd with mostly homebrewers from Oregon and Washington, it's really time to split those states up and make them their own region. We have great brewers and clubs here that have boycotted the NHC because of the hassle and this has also caused many of them to let their memberships lapse.

I also have a couple of other points about the NHC on my bio page. Head over there and if you like what you see please give me your vote:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/membership/aha-governing-committee/election/chris-hummert

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on February 27, 2013, 05:15:54 PM
I don't see any other way unless there is a lottery.  Each person gets 15 chances and we draw randomly....kind of like hunting season.  There will be years you get to enter a number of beers, there will be years that you get to choose your best one, and sometimes you stay home.

I think the problem with a lottery is that there are more brewers trying to enter than there are entries available. Odds are good you'd end up with one entry, with a very few people getting two and essentially no one getting three or more.

I personally wouldn't enter under any scenario where I'm limited to a small number of entries. Not because I'm trying for Ninkasi, but because my goal is to have one beer medal in the second round. I want to go up on stage, shake Charlie's hand, and bask in your applause... Bend you all to my will... Dance! Dance my puppets, dance!

Wait, what were talking about again?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 05:27:08 PM
Looks like we got a lot of new members here :)

Not entering competitions myself I do think that a lower limit is a fair approach. That way you'll have judge which beers to enter. Everybody has this limit and that's why I think it would be fair.

Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 27, 2013, 05:33:44 PM
Actually the solution is MUCH easier!! Just bump up the entry fee to 50 bucks per beer.  That will pretty much eliminate anyone entering just for feedback....you will only enter if your beers are really, really good and you think you might win. As someone else said....if you want feedback you can enter any BJCP comp and get that. I believe the GABF does this for the commercial beer comp...except the entry fee is something like 500 dollars!!  It keeps most breweries from  "carpet bombing" the competition and entering every single beer they make.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on February 27, 2013, 05:41:00 PM
Quote
I personally wouldn't enter under any scenario where I'm limited to a small number of entries.

But if you medaled three out of three we would bow....even batting 1.000 into the second round is an accomplishment beyond reproach.  Winning where the odds on getting into the competition are equal is better than winning because you put the odds of entering in your favor.  Entering 14 crappy beers and one good one does the same to improve your odds on that one beer by removing 14 other potential competitors from the field.  Imagine if those 14 other competitors were planning entering in the same catagory as you.  This is perfectly ok by the rules as they stand.

I like the radical idea of 1 beer per membership.  You have to judge the beers you have in your stable, and pick your strongest.  This tests the skill of the brewer as well as his/her own palate and judgement.  You have to have a good beer, you have to know it is your best beer, and you are playing against a field doing the exact same thing.  Draconian yes, but very inclusive.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: twhayes7 on February 27, 2013, 05:42:13 PM
I think many of the solutions here are good, including bumping the per beer/entry cost. I also wonder if it's possible to make the competition tiered by region. I'm in theater and this is the way the KACTF works. Everyone competes in his/her region and the winners of the region advance to the final. Then you have no crush at all.

Also, for those people bemoaning the fact that they logged in late: it made NO difference. I logged in at 3:06pm, registered (after fighting they lag times); and then experienced a continual succession of 503 errors for nearly :30 mins when I tried to add a beer/entry. I then gave up thinking I'd come back in a while and add my beer. At 5:28 it was full. 

This was a wholly inadequate system for what needed to be accomplished.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AleForce on February 27, 2013, 05:45:54 PM
Giving preference to AHA members during registration gives more value to joining the association. That should be something the association should seriously consider.  In addition having placed in a pre-qualified AHA sanctioned contest you could be given a code for entering into the NHC early. These are the homebrewers that are making other competitions happen and are serious about the competitions. This would add value to these competitions and increase their entries too.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: duboman on February 27, 2013, 05:46:05 PM
To chime in............

I am a relatively new member, 2 years no even though I have been brewing for more than that. I am one of the lucky one's that after two hours of frustrating F5's got my registration in an entries (4) total. However I am also one of the many that now have two charges on my card as a result of the payment glitches that were experienced. Having just spoken to Janis I fully understand that will be rectified and I will eventually receive a credit for the duplicate charge.

Having said all that, this is my first foray into the National comp and I am only doing so this year because after having done several comps in the local circuits I have some beers that have been ranked high with winning medals and now wanted to see how they fared on the national level.

This was obviously a huge debacle and it is unfortunate that it happened. I too believe that 5 entries is more than adequate and would allow many more brewers the opportunity to enter. I also believe that if you are an AHA member you should be allowed an early entry opportunity as a benefit of being a member. If one is not a member then there is the incentive to become one or understand that if the event fills up, non-members may in fact get shut out.

This scenario is really no different then  being the member of a club for a music artist or season ticket holder of a sports team. If you belong there are added benefits to early access to tickets and events, etc.

I am also one to believe that entries should be based upon having placed a medal in a local BJCP tasting competition or at least a score of 30 or above. This would force brewers to utilize the benefits of local sanctioned events and place a requirement on the National comp level. Personally I do not feel as though these are unreasonable requirements and would limit the amount of beers submitted that are really just way under par. If a brewer wants to know how their beer is they should find out first locally and if it fits the bill then it can move on.

In all I am confident that things will get worked out and I am sure the folks at the AHA are far more disappointing in the way things went then those that are ranting all over the web.

Good luck to all that got in and cheers!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 27, 2013, 05:50:38 PM
I don't see any other way unless there is a lottery.  Each person gets 15 chances and we draw randomly....kind of like hunting season.  There will be years you get to enter a number of beers, there will be years that you get to choose your best one, and sometimes you stay home.

I think the problem with a lottery is that there are more brewers trying to enter than there are entries available. Odds are good you'd end up with one entry, with a very few people getting two and essentially no one getting three or more.

I personally wouldn't enter under any scenario where I'm limited to a small number of entries. Not because I'm trying for Ninkasi, but because my goal is to have one beer medal in the second round. I want to go up on stage, shake Charlie's hand, and bask in your applause... Bend you all to my will... Dance! Dance my puppets, dance!

Wait, what were talking about again?
The last time we got on the stage, Charlie was not there. Settled for shaking hands with Gary, which was cool.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 05:55:24 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 27, 2013, 06:05:23 PM
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.

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: redbeerman on February 27, 2013, 06:08:00 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: zen_brew on February 27, 2013, 06:23:05 PM
 Necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps some good suggestions will rise out of the chaos that was this years registration. I'll throw some random ideas into the pot.

 I think the obvious issue is growth and demand. While the AHA has taken steps to manage growth, the growth in popularity has been explosive. I think the key is in finding ways to increase capacity. In Seattle they are getting ready to host the Comicon comic convention, and expect over 50,000 attendees over 3 days. So that tells us that convention centers can handle much larger crowds then the Homebrewers conference currently draws. I'll give you all of the 50,000+ are likely not staying in hotels for the entire conference, but I bet many are.

 for the NHC the coastal regions max out quickly, as that is where the people are. Perhaps first round can be done in more than one event in the more populated regions.  Instead of doing 750 entries in April, maybe you do a 500-600 entry first round in March, and another one 4 weeks later. You get to double up on the entries. You leave the total entries per brewer capped at whatever 15 entries, or maybe 10. This would also likely make the final round at the NHC a two day judging event. Maybe you can bump the registration to $15 or $20 per entry to allow some nicer incentives to bring in more judges. Maybe offer a separate judges banquet or something like that.

 Maybe you run an east and west coast regional conference before the main conference to slim the entries down to the main NHC. Until there is are some significant increases to capaity, it will be difficult to alleviate the pressures currently being experienced.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 06:26:38 PM
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.

It’s clear that judging resources are limited and won’t grow unless more step up to become judges and donate their time. I think everybody who is not a judge should think about that when arguing against a limit and/or qualifier.

There are a number of competitive events (marathons for example) that are very popular and the organizers had to limit number of entries. The NYC marathon has a lottery and to run in Boston you need to qualify. And that qualification in itself is already an achievement.

As I see it there are only a few fair approaches to entry limitation:
- cap on entries per brewer (people need to choose the beers they want to enter and also limits the amount of money one has to pay to have a shot at winning the competition)
- qualification (that is a good one since it may get more people involved in the local competition scene)
- lottery

The speed of your internet connection or your ability to be online just at the right time should not make a difference in your chances of getting your beers in.

Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on February 27, 2013, 06:35:33 PM
I like the radical idea of 1 beer per membership.

But that potentially means 30K entries.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 06:39:35 PM
I like the radical idea of 1 beer per membership.

But that potentially means 30K entries.

make it 1 per person, until whatever limit has been set has been reached.  you still have to be online at the right time or you miss out.  If that limit is not reached after the "Pre-registration" you open it up to anyone (additional entries from members and non-members) to fill it up.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 06:39:57 PM
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.

Lots of unsolicited comment from me, but maybe one future year I have interest in participating which is why I’m also interested in finding a better entry system.

BTW, our club sponsored one entry per group and we selected the entry that will be sponsored by selecting the best beers during a tasting session at a club meeting. That was a pretty nice idea.

Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 27, 2013, 06:43:55 PM
<snip>
 for the NHC the coastal regions max out quickly, as that is where the people are. Perhaps first round can be done in more than one event in the more populated regions.  Instead of doing 750 entries in April, maybe you do a 500-600 entry first round in March, and another one 4 weeks later. You get to double up on the entries. You leave the total entries per brewer capped at whatever 15 entries, or maybe 10. This would also likely make the final round at the NHC a two day judging event. Maybe you can bump the registration to $15 or $20 per entry to allow some nicer incentives to bring in more judges. Maybe offer a separate judges banquet or something like that.


The Indianapolis region was the second/third to fill in the last couple of years IIRC. Indianapolis is not considered a coastal region by this guy.

Judge overload and burnout is a real issue. If you have March/April rounds you are depending on the same judges. There was a region in TX that struggled a couple of years ago due to the fact that a very large competition had been judged the month before.

Making the second round more than one day would tack another day on the road, paying for a hotel and food for most judges. Or they miss another day of the conference. The BJCP does have a judges lunchen and talk the day before the judging, for a nominal registration fee.

The engine behind all of this is the explosive growth of the hobby. The AHA doesn't have big enough brakes. Growth causes problems, but there were also problems when the membership was shrinking sometime back.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 27, 2013, 06:49:38 PM
The last time we got on the stage, Charlie was not there. Settled for shaking hands with Gary, which was cool.
I got to shake Charlie's hand last year.  I felt bad because I thought he had a cast and didn't want to aggrevate the injury.  After I realized it was the wrap he puts on the save his hand from all the handshaking.

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.
I was just going to say the same thing...now I don't have to.  Thanks.

Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.
Kai
Exactly.  I know when Gordon was going for Ninkasi, he mentioned he spent a week's salary enter beers and shipping them.  I don't know about anyone else, but I don't think I should have to raid my son's college fund to enter a beer contest.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 27, 2013, 06:50:22 PM
Lots of good thoughts here on ways to change the competition to improve it.  The AHA Competition Committee talked through a lot of these rules issues and made the changes we did for a variety of reasons.  This committee does not deal with the technical side, ie registration software, so I can't speak to why any of those problems occurred or how they can be addressed.

The fifteen entry cap - we made this change to free up spots for more people to enter, although we recognized that this is a fairly small change.  There are not that many who enter more than 15 to begin with, as someone pointed out the average is less than 5.  We could have gone lower and may drop this limit in the future, but thought this was a good step that considered the interests of those wishing to enter and those trying to win the Ninkasi Award.

We also considered limiting entries to start, increasing fees as entries increase (first three are $x, next three are $x+$2, etc), and several other things.  These were rejected for a variety of reasons - for example, if we limit it to 5 "to start" that is effectively a 5 entry imit.  Not everyone would hit the limit, but it would not suddenly open it up for everyone to enter at a leisurely pace.  There would still be a frantic rush for everyone to get their entries in and the competition would sell out in the same amount of time.  We don't even have enough spots to limit entries to one per member.  A lottery system could be put in place, but then you have to win the lottery and then win the competition.  That is a huge change and I'm not sure it would be very popular, but we will talk about it again.

We discussed the possibility of eliminating the Ninkasi Award - it is not off the table in the future either.  We weren't ready to this year but if we feel it is in the best interest of the competition then that is what we will recommend.  When there is a 20 or 50 way tie it is kind of meaningless - that (or before then) is when it will be time (IMO).

We considered adding a round to the competition, making it 3 rounds.  This increases costs to the point it would not work without raising entry fees a lot, plus requiring many many more regions be managed.  It also backs up the starting point for the first round so registration would start in December and we'd have judging in February, April, and June.  And you would need that many more bottles to enter each beer.  This is not completely off the table, but it's not a great solution.

We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.  We rejected the idea of a dramatic increase in the cost for the same reason (+1 Kai).

We considered adding entries to each region, but many of the regions are already at the limit of what they can judge.  We considered adding regions, but lack areas with enough qualified judges to judge 750 beers who also have organizers willing to shoulder the burden, and this could lead to problems judging the additional entries in the second round.  We considered cutting the limit to 500 per region while increasing the number of regions, but this floods the 2nd round with too many entries to be judged effectively.  And on and on and on.

In the end we are between a rock and a hard place.  The rock being the number of people who wish to enter, and the hard place being the number of beers that can be judged in a timely and effective manner.  Maybe we should limit entries to those who judged in the previous year's competition?  That would reduce demand and probably increase judges in short order. ;)

Hopefully with the new BJCP exam the number of judges will increase faster so we will be able to add more first round sites or increase the size of existing sites.  As demand for the conference expands we will hopefully have more judges there for the second round and can add regions for the first round without worrying about overwhelming the second round.  We are trying to grow the competition, but we have to do it in a way that maintains the overall quality.

My hope is that this year's second round shows that we are able to handle a few hundred more entries in the second round in future years.  Every 84 more entries we can get judged Thursday of the conference gives us the ability to add another regional judging center, or another 750 entries overall.  As the ability to handle entries in the second round expands, the need for more places that can take 750 entries (or more) will increase.  So become a judge - I know, that takes time and money, and finding a spot for the tasting exam is a pain, but unless we get more judges we are still getting crushed under a two ton heavy thing.

In the end we will increase capacity as much as we can, but we will have to come up with ways to decrease demand.  Needless to say we will be discussing this a lot over the coming year.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 06:55:58 PM
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...
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 27, 2013, 07:01:48 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.

I don't think so at all. What it will defeat is....I have 15 beers ready to enter. 10 average ones, 4 very good ones, and 1 outstanding beer but.....WTF....I will enter ALL of them!  If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry.  Let's emphasize quality and NOT quantity.  If you are just looking for feedback on your beers....well there are a lot of other BJCP comps that will give you that and guess what??.....Many, many times it is the same judges as the NHC.  As it stands now are the winners at this years NHC really the "best" or are they the "luckiest" for being able to get their entries in.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 27, 2013, 07:13:43 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.

I don't think so at all. What it will defeat is....I have 15 beers ready to enter. 10 average ones, 4 very good ones, and 1 outstanding beer but.....WTF....I will enter ALL of them!  If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry.  Let's emphasize quality and NOT quantity.  If you are just looking for feedback on your beers....well there are a lot of other BJCP comps that will give you that and guess what??.....Many, many times it is the same judges as the NHC.  As it stands now are the winners at this years NHC really the "best" or are they the "luckiest" for being able to get their entries in.

Raising the price is just as exclusionary as not capping the number of entries.  You just hose another segment of the community.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 07:15:40 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.

I don't think so at all. What it will defeat is....I have 15 beers ready to enter. 10 average ones, 4 very good ones, and 1 outstanding beer but.....WTF....I will enter ALL of them!  If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry.  Let's emphasize quality and NOT quantity.  If you are just looking for feedback on your beers....well there are a lot of other BJCP comps that will give you that and guess what??.....Many, many times it is the same judges as the NHC.  As it stands now are the winners at this years NHC really the "best" or are they the "luckiest" for being able to get their entries in.

disagree.  I have a bunch of beers I think are medal-worthy, and wouldn't pay that much for one entry, let alone the 8 I registered yesterday.  It's too much money, and I would just sit out.  How is that making it about quality?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: osagebeerco on February 27, 2013, 07:19:00 PM
Shame..I really had two good beers that were ready to go, a lot of effort put in. My neighbors will be happy that they'll have more for them. Looks like Colorado State Fair for me this year then, gives me time to try and best my Silver medal from last year.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on February 27, 2013, 07:23:58 PM
Quote
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.

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 07:33:39 PM
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...

I wouldn’t have a problem taking money. especially if it pays for gas and other judging related expenses. Even if the money is more than that it would be one way of financing the hobby. I think it’s all about creating more incentives for brewers to go the route of becoming a judge since the community of brewers is growing faster than the community of judges which is why we seem to be having these issues.

I’m not in favor of tying conference attendance/entry to judging. Personally I’d like to see competitions and the conference as separate events. There are many brewers who are not interested in entering competitions or judging but would like to attend the conference. Giving judges a leg up on registering for the conference would be unfair to the other group.

Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 07:39:57 PM
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...

I wouldn’t have a problem taking money. especially if it pays for gas and other judging related expenses. Even if the money is more than that it would be one way of financing the hobby. I think it’s all about creating more incentives for brewers to go the route of becoming a judge since the community of brewers is growing faster than the community of judges which is why we seem to be having these issues.

I’m not in favor of tying conference attendance/entry to judging. Personally I’d like to see competitions and the conference as separate events. There are many brewers who are not interested in entering competitions or judging but would like to attend the conference. Giving judges a leg up on registering for the conference would be unfair to the other group.

Kai

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.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: 3530 on February 27, 2013, 07:41:13 PM
Shame..I really had two good beers that were ready to go, a lot of effort put in.

I feel your pain. My brother and I have been working on fine tuning three recipes since last years competition. We brewed each beer several times, making minor adjustments to get them just right. We felt really confident about two of them and decided to enter them but we were shut out yesterday. I spent hours at work just trying to register at several locations, used several computers and several browsers (most current versions). Was only able to register in Minnesota but no luck with any entries. We have been competing in the NHC for years and are both extremely disappointed (pissed off) about the whole situation. Since the lack of manpower its impossible to increase the amount of entries/judging locations, the only solution is to cap the entries like many others have stated & give the little guys a chance. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on February 27, 2013, 07:48:12 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.

Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.
Yep - raising the price will decrease demand, but it does so by cutting out people who can't pay more. These may be some of the best brewers. Many of us know somebody with all the best equipment and a kegerator full of terrible beer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: lodovico on February 27, 2013, 07:49:06 PM
So does anyone know if in regions like Ohio, if people will have to compete against over 900 entries?  Doesn't seem like that would be a fair competition if the other regions have a lot less entries.  What a mess. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Kaiser on February 27, 2013, 07:52:07 PM
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.

I misread that and what you are proposing seems reasonable.

Kai
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 27, 2013, 07:53:02 PM
I like the radical idea of 1 beer per membership.

But that potentially means 30K entries.
I think it's more like 38K, figure over 40K for next year
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: starkiller4299 on February 27, 2013, 08:03:19 PM
I have stewarded for the last two NHC second round competitions, and having recently become BJCP Recognized, I'd love to steward / judge for 1st round.  But the closest one to me is something like a 7 hour drive.

No, thank you!

PS seriously, how is Chicago not an entry location?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: coastsidemike on February 27, 2013, 08:04:27 PM
We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.  We rejected the idea of a dramatic increase in the cost for the same reason (+1 Kai).

We considered adding entries to each region, but many of the regions are already at the limit of what they can judge.  We considered adding regions, but lack areas with enough qualified judges to judge 750 beers who also have organizers willing to shoulder the burden, and this could lead to problems judging the additional entries in the second round.  We considered cutting the limit to 500 per region while increasing the number of regions, but this floods the 2nd round with too many entries to be judged effectively.  And on and on and on.


I see this with national sports, the model works.  You have to qualify in each individual sport regionally to compete nationally.  Sometimes it means a weekend away to make it happen, but it's been worth the effort. The amount of national competition "fodder" is greatly reduced, the national level resources are still a bit tapped out but not overwhelmed, and I see more networking on the local level to have a larger impact on the national level.

Personally I've never competed with brewing and look to do so soon, but really looking for good feedback.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 27, 2013, 08:13:06 PM
Don't bump the price. That would make the amount you can throw at this a big part of your chances to win.



Kai

+1  Turning it into a rich man's game defeats the purpose IMHO.

I don't think so at all. What it will defeat is....I have 15 beers ready to enter. 10 average ones, 4 very good ones, and 1 outstanding beer but.....WTF....I will enter ALL of them!  If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry.  Let's emphasize quality and NOT quantity.  If you are just looking for feedback on your beers....well there are a lot of other BJCP comps that will give you that and guess what??.....Many, many times it is the same judges as the NHC.  As it stands now are the winners at this years NHC really the "best" or are they the "luckiest" for being able to get their entries in.

disagree.  I have a bunch of beers I think are medal-worthy, and wouldn't pay that much for one entry, let alone the 8 I registered yesterday.  It's too much money, and I would just sit out.  How is that making it about quality?
But that is under YOUR control!! Right now the only people who got in had all afternoon to sit at their computers( i.e. didn't have other commitments).  A lot of people got shut out due to no fault of their own! If you raised the price to 30-50 dollars an entry and published it six months in advance....you could budget for it. If you choose not to enter because it costs too much...well that is YOUR choice and at least you were given ample chance to enter the NHC.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 08:13:40 PM
I have stewarded for the last two NHC second round competitions, and having recently become BJCP Recognized, I'd love to steward / judge for 1st round.  But the closest one to me is something like a 7 hour drive.

No, thank you!

PS seriously, how is Chicago not an entry location?

What's wrong with Milwaukee?  Those guys put on a great competition.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 27, 2013, 08:16:56 PM
If you choose not to enter because it costs too much...well that is YOUR choice and at least you were given ample chance to enter the NHC.
Kinda like a poll tax?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 27, 2013, 08:19:29 PM
PS seriously, how is Chicago not an entry location?
Seriously, there was not a volunteer to organize it.  The same goes for Portland OR, the previous organizer declined and the Oregon Brew Crew was contacted and asked to host a site and they did not respond.

There were 11 judging centers available (because of 2nd round constraints) and various places were contacted to see if they were interested in hosting.  The first 11 to say yes got them.  It's not like the AHA assigns judging centers based on where the brewers are, it is where the organizers and judges are.  No organizer = no judging center.

It is a ton of work to run a judging center and people get burned out and don't want to do it year after year.  That is totally understandable, and we shouldn't put too much pressure on these valuable volunteers.  If you want to run a judging center then talk to Janis - starting in July.  If you want your city to host a judging center year in and year out, I'd suggest you get a small crew of volunteers and rotate the organizer so they can train others and maintain the desire to do it.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on February 27, 2013, 08:19:55 PM
The pre-qualification argument to reduce entries is not a good one.

It isn't a good argument, or you disagree? There's a difference. The way I see it, the AHA has to implement at least one of three options:

We can certainly disagree about which option (or which combination of options) is best. Personally, I feel #1 is inherently unfair and that we're already past the point where #2 could help. Since the average number of entries is 4.5 (in 2012), even with a cap of one per brewer the first round would likely fill up. On the other hand, beers that score less than 30 in the first round are ineligible to advance anyway. From the competitions I've judged/stewarded (relatively few, I admit) that's roughly the over-under for all entries. So right off the bat you can eliminate on the order of half the entries without having to reduce the "openness" of the competition. It would *still* probably fill up, but at least we could get back to the registration window being open long enough that most people have a chance.

As a model, I think the GC should look to other fringe sports that have to deal with this same issue (namely, a lot of amateur interest in the sport relative to the governing body's resources). Look at golf, or chess, or poker, or billiards. All have gone through these kind of growing pains, and they've all implemented some sort of qualification requirement for their open national championships. (To be fair, the WSOP also has a high entry fee.) If they didn't, the US Open would last six months and bankrupt the USGA.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 08:24:20 PM
But that is under YOUR control!! Right now the only people who got in had all afternoon to sit at their computers( i.e. didn't have other commitments).  A lot of people got shut out due to no fault of their own! If you raised the price to 30-50 dollars an entry and published it six months in advance....you could budget for it. If you choose not to enter because it costs too much...well that is YOUR choice and at least you were given ample chance to enter the NHC.

YOU are the one that said it was about quality.  Do you want the best beers, or not?  Your plan limits them.
YOU are the one that said "If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry."  You didn't say some people, or most people, you lumped us all together.  I really, truly believe I make multiple medal-worthy beers.  I will NOT pay what you suggest. I have the money.  It is beyond what I think is reasonable, thus I will not spend it.  Under your plan the NHC loses my awesome beers, and is therefore of lower quality.   8)

I knew months in advance when registration was going to start, and made sure I had no other commitments.  Hey, wait, that makes it sound like I budgeted for it...

cheers--
--Michael
 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: starkiller4299 on February 27, 2013, 08:31:50 PM
Sorry if it seemed like I was being accusatory with that exclamatory statement....I know that the competitions are volunteer driven.  But with all the shiny new breweries in town, and the legions of homebrewers, it just seemed really surprising that no one stepped forwards.  And like I said, if one was closer (I live, relatively speaking, out in the sticks) I'd be happy to help!

And nothing wrong with Milwaukee...except that it's on the far side of the lake!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: lodovico on February 27, 2013, 08:34:37 PM
Start by making the competition open to AHA members only. Period.

Doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a start.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: redbeerman on February 27, 2013, 08:35:56 PM
I too set aside time to make sure I was where I needed to be to enter.  And I was successful.  I only entered three beers.  All three beers have been tasted by BJCP judges and were given good reviews.  I have taken it upon myself to only enter beers that I think have a shot.  I did not do that in the not too distant past, but it wasn't a problem four or five years ago.  I will be taking the BJCP exam soon.  I have judged as a novice in the past and have spent a lot of time learning about beer.  I look forward to volunteering in the future, but I understand burnout as well.  The number of willing and able judges is a gating factor for this and other competitions as well.  We saw a 50% increase from year one to year two at the Delaware State Fair and I expect it will continue to grow.  Getting judges together is time consuming and at times frustrating, ask Ron.  I have heard many good suggestions here.  Let's keep the dialog going and try not to stomp each other too hard. ;)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 27, 2013, 08:37:30 PM
PS seriously, how is Chicago not an entry location?
Seriously, there was not a volunteer to organize it.  The same goes for Portland OR, the previous organizer declined and the Oregon Brew Crew was contacted and asked to host a site and they did not respond.

I'm the president of the Oregon Brew Crew and we passed on the offer to host it. I replied back to the email sent and can provide a copy if it showing that it was sent. Based on the negative experiences we've had hosting it in the past few year and based on the negative experiences that were passed on to us by members of the clubs that hosted it last time it was in our area, it was an easy call to choose not to do it.

In addition we're not going to host it until:
1) Registration problems are fixed
2) There's more money that comes to the club hosting it so we can provide food without it coming out of our club budget
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.

Most of it's outlined on my Governing Committee Bio here:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/membership/aha-governing-committee/election/chris-hummert
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: james on February 27, 2013, 08:39:12 PM
Start by making the competition open to AHA members only. Period.

Doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a start.

I'm trying to stay out of the conversation, but I'm not really sure this is an issue.   Maybe after the storm calms down the numbers can be crunched and this revealed.  I imagine there really aren't that many non-AHA members that are entering the competition.  There certainly aren't any that are entering more than 8 entries
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 08:43:51 PM
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.


you lost me here...they're not judging their own beer, so what motivation is there?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 27, 2013, 08:57:37 PM
But that is under YOUR control!! Right now the only people who got in had all afternoon to sit at their computers( i.e. didn't have other commitments).  A lot of people got shut out due to no fault of their own! If you raised the price to 30-50 dollars an entry and published it six months in advance....you could budget for it. If you choose not to enter because it costs too much...well that is YOUR choice and at least you were given ample chance to enter the NHC.

YOU are the one that said it was about quality.  Do you want the best beers, or not?  Your plan limits them.
YOU are the one that said "If you really, truly believe your beer is that good and could medal you will spend 30-50 dollars on a single entry."  You didn't say some people, or most people, you lumped us all together.  I really, truly believe I make multiple medal-worthy beers.  I will NOT pay what you suggest. I have the money.  It is beyond what I think is reasonable, thus I will not spend it.  Under your plan the NHC loses my awesome beers, and is therefore of lower quality.   8)

I knew months in advance when registration was going to start, and made sure I had no other commitments.  Hey, wait, that makes it sound like I budgeted for it...

cheers--
--Michael
This is my first year entering the NHC (2 beers).  In past years I didn't enter because I thought it was just too expensive....entry fees are roughly double what other well run BJCP comps charge plus I have to ship my beers. This year I broke down just to see what all the fuss is about. I cringe though when I realize that it will cost me close to 40 bucks(entry fees + shipping) just to get 2 beers judged.  So I am a perfect example of how raising the entry fees will cut down on the number of entries.  I only sent in beers that I thought might do well and not just everything I have.  Would I spend 30-50 dollars on an entry? Maybe!! If the beer has been well received in other comps I would definetly consider entering it. I wouldn't just enter random beers into the NHC....which probably happens a lot.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: kraypd on February 27, 2013, 08:59:36 PM
This is a pretty simple market demand vs supply issue so the only way to solve the issue is to increase supply (judging sites - qualified judges) or decrease demand (higher entry costs - more work to earn spots).

I personally would like brewers to earn their way to entries by giving back to the AHA community that also helps supply for judging capacity.

Some ideas that come to mind:
1. Volunteer at a NHC Judging site - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
2. Volunteer at another BJCP competition - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
3. Join the AHA - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
4. Place 1, 2, 3 in NHC Round 1 of this year - Earn 1 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
5. Place 1, 2 or 3 in NHC Round 2 of this year - Earn 2 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
6. Other spots could be earned through local competitions that meet AHA guidelines and are pre-approved.

For the items 4 and 5, good brewers could earn the right to more entries next year so that over a few years the best brewers have the best shot at the Ninkasi.  A first year entrant would have to work a few years to get up to that level. 

Adding some compensation to judges and slightly increasing the entry fees to cover would also help encourage judges to participate.

Just my thoughts.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on February 27, 2013, 09:02:01 PM
I'm the president of the Oregon Brew Crew and we passed on the offer to host it. I replied back to the email sent and can provide a copy if it showing that it was sent. Based on the negative experiences we've had hosting it in the past few year and based on the negative experiences that were passed on to us by members of the clubs that hosted it last time it was in our area, it was an easy call to choose not to do it.

In addition we're not going to host it until:
1) Registration problems are fixed
2) There's more money that comes to the club hosting it so we can provide food without it coming out of our club budget
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.

1) The registration problems are not dealt with by the club, they are handled by the AHA. Or am I wrong about this? We are hosting the KC Regional and are not involved in the registration process until we check in bottles.
2) The AHA has approve us for something on the order of $2500 - how is this not enough to run a competition with food? I guess we'll find out, but our preliminary budget shows us with enough money for a fully catered Friday dinner, hot breakfast Saturday and hot lunch on Saturday.
3) I'm confused on this one as well. We have quite a large amount of judges in our annual comp that don't enter... hmm.

At any rate, I hope that Kansas City will be able to set up a rotating set of volunteers to keep the 1st round here.

Cheers!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 27, 2013, 09:05:25 PM
At $30-$50 per entry, wouldn't you think there would be a requirement for the judges to be National or above, therefore limiting the number of judges.  I know I wouldn't want to spend that money and have someone like me judge the beer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: redbeerman on February 27, 2013, 09:09:33 PM
At $30-$50 per entry, wouldn't you think there would be a requirement for the judges to be National or above, therefore limiting the number of judges.  I know I wouldn't want to spend that money and have someone like me judge the beer.

 ;D ;)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on February 27, 2013, 09:14:48 PM
At $30-$50 per entry, wouldn't you think there would be a requirement for the judges to be National or above, therefore limiting the number of judges.  I know I wouldn't want to spend that money and have someone like me judge the beer.

You think you can find that many National level judges?

It takes time, money, effort, reading, learning, etc to become a National level judge, or any BJCP judge for that matter. This is obviously the bottleneck here - people who will talk about solutions but not actually be part of it. We NEED more qualified judges!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: morticaixavier on February 27, 2013, 09:26:43 PM
This is a pretty simple market demand vs supply issue so the only way to solve the issue is to increase supply (judging sites - qualified judges) or decrease demand (higher entry costs - more work to earn spots).

I personally would like brewers to earn their way to entries by giving back to the AHA community that also helps supply for judging capacity.

Some ideas that come to mind:
1. Volunteer at a NHC Judging site - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
2. Volunteer at another BJCP competition - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
3. Join the AHA - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
4. Place 1, 2, 3 in NHC Round 1 of this year - Earn 1 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
5. Place 1, 2 or 3 in NHC Round 2 of this year - Earn 2 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
6. Other spots could be earned through local competitions that meet AHA guidelines and are pre-approved.

For the items 4 and 5, good brewers could earn the right to more entries next year so that over a few years the best brewers have the best shot at the Ninkasi.  A first year entrant would have to work a few years to get up to that level. 

Adding some compensation to judges and slightly increasing the entry fees to cover would also help encourage judges to participate.

Just my thoughts.

your suggestions above would result in 30k+ 'guaranteed' entries just from item 3 alone, unless you are suggesting that only new joins would get that (kinda sucks for the lifers or long timers in that case) add in 1 and 2 your going to up that number alot I would think.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 27, 2013, 09:27:24 PM
The pre-qualification argument to reduce entries is not a good one.

It isn't a good argument, or you disagree? There's a difference. The way I see it, the AHA has to implement at least one of three options:
  • An entry fee high enough to discourage entries;
  • An entry cap so low it reduces the number of entries;
  • A qualification requirement that reduces the number of entries.

We can certainly disagree about which option (or which combination of options) is best. Personally, I feel #1 is inherently unfair and that we're already past the point where #2 could help. Since the average number of entries is 4.5 (in 2012), even with a cap of one per brewer the first round would likely fill up. On the other hand, beers that score less than 30 in the first round are ineligible to advance anyway. From the competitions I've judged/stewarded (relatively few, I admit) that's roughly the over-under for all entries. So right off the bat you can eliminate on the order of half the entries without having to reduce the "openness" of the competition. It would *still* probably fill up, but at least we could get back to the registration window being open long enough that most people have a chance.

As a model, I think the GC should look to other fringe sports that have to deal with this same issue (namely, a lot of amateur interest in the sport relative to the governing body's resources). Look at golf, or chess, or poker, or billiards. All have gone through these kind of growing pains, and they've all implemented some sort of qualification requirement for their open national championships. (To be fair, the WSOP also has a high entry fee.) If they didn't, the US Open would last six months and bankrupt the USGA.

Probably not my best choice of words to describe my point, which was that the first round of this competition is already a pre-qualification for the second round.  I don't think we need to add another layer that excludes more members from participating.  Again work toward the MCAB if you want to enter a competition that includes only pre-qualified entries.

You are too focused on the # of entries and not focused enough on the # of participants.  We have shown that we can handle the current number of entries, so why would you want to reduce the number of entries.  That number is actually set in stone at 8250.  What we need to do is focus on how to include the most number of people. 

This could be accomplished by holding a pre-registration in which you find out how many members really want to enter and subsequently how many entries they would like to put forth.  After locking those numbers in it's pretty straightforward from there to set a cap on entries.  See below how I think we could accomplish this:

A simple pre-registration would help immensely.  First it locks in the number of members who are allowed to participate. If the number is more than 8250 then you must randomly pick who is allowed to enter. Assuming the number of entrants will be less than 8250, then you need to ask each entrant how many entries they would like to enter (1-15).  Most likely the number of entries from this query will be higher than 8250.  Any entries over 8250 are then taken away from those entrants who requested the most number of entries.  You simply let each person know how many entries they are allowed at this point.  Finally you give each entrant at least a week to get their entries registered and paid for.  The few slots that are left over can be opened up to the public or added to the entrants that requested more entries to begin with.  This should make registration much less painful and stressful for all.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 27, 2013, 09:29:14 PM
At $30-$50 per entry, wouldn't you think there would be a requirement for the judges to be National or above, therefore limiting the number of judges.  I know I wouldn't want to spend that money and have someone like me judge the beer.

You think you can find that many National level judges?

It takes time, money, effort, reading, learning, etc to become a National level judge, or any BJCP judge for that matter. This is obviously the bottleneck here - people who will talk about solutions but not actually be part of it. We NEED more qualified judges!

That was my point.  At a entry fee this high, there would have to be some expectation of quality and experience, similar to the 2nd round of NHC.  I admit I am not a judge but have thought about it.  But I have a hard time picking up flavors and aroma, and believe me I try (as my recycle bin can attest to :) ) 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 27, 2013, 09:44:59 PM
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.


you lost me here...they're not judging their own beer, so what motivation is there?

I meant by them not being able to get a beer in the competition, what's their motivation to help out with the rest of the competition? Last year I wasn't able to get a beer in, so I never felt the need to help out and planned on heading skiing that weekend instead. I only judged once the organizer started begging for judges and I did so more as a favor to him, not the NHC.

The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 27, 2013, 09:48:52 PM
I'm the president of the Oregon Brew Crew and we passed on the offer to host it. I replied back to the email sent and can provide a copy if it showing that it was sent. Based on the negative experiences we've had hosting it in the past few year and based on the negative experiences that were passed on to us by members of the clubs that hosted it last time it was in our area, it was an easy call to choose not to do it.

In addition we're not going to host it until:
1) Registration problems are fixed
2) There's more money that comes to the club hosting it so we can provide food without it coming out of our club budget
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.

1) The registration problems are not dealt with by the club, they are handled by the AHA. Or am I wrong about this? We are hosting the KC Regional and are not involved in the registration process until we check in bottles.
2) The AHA has approve us for something on the order of $2500 - how is this not enough to run a competition with food? I guess we'll find out, but our preliminary budget shows us with enough money for a fully catered Friday dinner, hot breakfast Saturday and hot lunch on Saturday.
3) I'm confused on this one as well. We have quite a large amount of judges in our annual comp that don't enter... hmm.

At any rate, I hope that Kansas City will be able to set up a rotating set of volunteers to keep the 1st round here.

Cheers!

1) The national registration problem needs to be fixed before we take the contest back on. This is the second year in a row it's been f'ed up. Technically the third for those of us in the northwest....

2) Interesting, that must have been increased in the last year because the info I was given was $1200.

3) See above reply. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Hokerer on February 27, 2013, 09:57:58 PM
We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.

If that's the best reason that you've got to not use sanctioned BJCP comps as qualifiers then the solution is an absolute no brainer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: kraypd on February 27, 2013, 10:00:33 PM
This is a pretty simple market demand vs supply issue so the only way to solve the issue is to increase supply (judging sites - qualified judges) or decrease demand (higher entry costs - more work to earn spots).

I personally would like brewers to earn their way to entries by giving back to the AHA community that also helps supply for judging capacity.

Some ideas that come to mind:
1. Volunteer at a NHC Judging site - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
2. Volunteer at another BJCP competition - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
3. Join the AHA - Earn 1 guaranteed entry
4. Place 1, 2, 3 in NHC Round 1 of this year - Earn 1 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
5. Place 1, 2 or 3 in NHC Round 2 of this year - Earn 2 guaranteed entries next year per beer.
6. Other spots could be earned through local competitions that meet AHA guidelines and are pre-approved.

For the items 4 and 5, good brewers could earn the right to more entries next year so that over a few years the best brewers have the best shot at the Ninkasi.  A first year entrant would have to work a few years to get up to that level. 

Adding some compensation to judges and slightly increasing the entry fees to cover would also help encourage judges to participate.

Just my thoughts.

your suggestions above would result in 30k+ 'guaranteed' entries just from item 3 alone, unless you are suggesting that only new joins would get that (kinda sucks for the lifers or long timers in that case) add in 1 and 2 your going to up that number alot I would think.

I didn't realize that there were 30K+ active AHA members!  I would imagine that not all are entering the NHC each year but perhaps that qualification method would untenable.  My overall point is that entries need to be limited somehow and the best way would be finding a way for brewers to contibute to the overall process/organization to earn spots rather than a free for all open registration process which has outgrown demand and isn't making anyone happy.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on February 27, 2013, 10:11:14 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 27, 2013, 10:17:17 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.

+503
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: weithman5 on February 27, 2013, 10:20:44 PM
i did my part by not entering my crud this year 8)

i remember most of these arguments a year ago and IIRC, there were some contestants that had over 23 entries, not counting mead and cider this means they probably entered in multiple sub categories, hoping their beers fit somewhere. 

i don't see why entries cant be limited to 5 per customer per day or similar. and i certainly think you get no more than one entry per main category would help.  ( i doubt many people actually do that though)
Title: Re: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 27, 2013, 10:23:13 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
me too

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I717 using Tapatalk 2

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: thetooth on February 27, 2013, 10:45:42 PM
I keep seeing the reference to 30,000 being the number of entries if we limited it to 1 entry per member... but I think that's the total AHA membership number.  I highly doubt that every AHA member will enter.

If limiting it to one entry per member as a start is actually on the table (which I doubt anyway), maybe you could test the waters by having an early 1-entry registration for each active AHA member and see how many you get.  If less than the total capacity, open it up after that for open registration.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: jstein3 on February 27, 2013, 10:50:12 PM
I think there's two different scenarios playing out here that need to be addressed separately, namely how many entries the competition can handle (regardless of how many individual entrants there are), and how many people can effectively get into the system to get an entry established.

There are many good reasons why the competition is limited and have been outlined and primarily seems to boil down to available resources, time and money to handle such an event.  You may want to consider allowing a small overage this year as I will comment in a moment.

Getting into the competition is a whole other situation.  Where I am concerned is that the entry system is flawed and whether someone had 1 or 15 entries, they may not have the same opportunity to enter this year.  From the current comments on the entry site pages "Unpaid entries in judge centers that have reached the capacity limit for paid entries will be reassigned to an alternate region" and " Rest assured that all currently registered entries will have an opportunity to be judged in the competition." So, are those folks that registered over the available amounts going to replace the available spots in other regions that were not full?  I was in the midst of entering my information, but not to the point of getting a beer entered when entries were shut down by the AHA.  So who gets to enter at that location now, someone who through no fault of his own was able to enter above and beyond the capacity of a location, or someone who was unable to complete registration not because a site was full, but because it was determined to suspend entries? I don't buy the argument in this situation to get online earlier and enter earlier in the day, otherwise you should make the entry period from 1-4pm regardless.  Oh, did I mention that the email with the link to the entry sites didn't hit my inbox until 5PM?  I didn't personally have info to register until hours into it, and my primary location was overbooked but felt fortunate to get into another one.  This registration was flawed from the beginning.

  Some posts have promoted or countered the concept of a lottery.  How is the current system so different from a lottery?   How many people hit F5 hoping to "get picked" so to speak to get into the server?  How about those folks who punched their ticket by being able to register above the available spots in their region now taking spots from other regions?  Luck of the draw for those who got in and registered above a regions availability, bad luck for those in available regions who now lose their spots in that lottery.

I surely don't know how to fix that, but will feel like I won my own personal Ninkasi if I manage to get an entry in this year.  Obviously, this will not be a year where anyone can win - those who were lucky enough to bypass entry limits have a edge over others who otherwise would have got an entry in.  In essence, some of us are already winning an unofficial lottery to get in, so would that be a terribly bad way to do this?  At least it would be an open lottery, and not closed to the luck few who got picked by the fortune of getting in at the right time.

If the judging sites can handle a few extra entries, a feasible solution to the overage would be to allow the regions fill naturally when the sites are reopened, then redistribute the entries that got in over a region's allotted amount.  That will make this years competition go over the 8250 mark, probably add what 50 or so beers to each judging site, but would solve the dilemma how to keep those in that over registered in say NY because of technicalities, but not punish those entering in say WI where there was still room because the AHA shut the site down early.

Title: Re: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 27, 2013, 11:31:48 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
me too

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I717 using Tapatalk 2

I'm fairly certain it's all related due to frustration with the AHA in this area. I've seen these judges at other competitions in the area in which they are not entered.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 27, 2013, 11:47:39 PM
I'm the president of the Oregon Brew Crew and we passed on the offer to host it. I replied back to the email sent and can provide a copy if it showing that it was sent. Based on the negative experiences we've had hosting it in the past few year and based on the negative experiences that were passed on to us by members of the clubs that hosted it last time it was in our area, it was an easy call to choose not to do it.

In addition we're not going to host it until:
1) Registration problems are fixed
2) There's more money that comes to the club hosting it so we can provide food without it coming out of our club budget
3) Washington and Oregon get split up into their own regions. We're tired of our members and fellow homebrewers not being able to enter the competition because our region fills up so fast. If these people don't enter, then there's no motivation for them to show up to judge and we spend weeks and weeks begging for people to come judge.
I believe you that you responded and turned it down, I did not have that info.  Sorry for misstating it.  However I find it interesting that you simultaneously insist OR gets its own judging center and refuse to host it.

I get that it is annoying that the NW site fills up so fast - that happens everywhere and annoys everyone.  Your demand for two judging centers, one in Seattle, and one in Portland, is not warranted based on the membership numbers in the two states, which is the crux of your argument.  Even if it was however, this is not how judging centers are assigned.  We need people willing to organize it and sufficient judges.  Since Seattle and Portland are so close and judges travel to judge at the NHC, two judging centers would steal judges from each other.  With the recent expansion of the judging pools in these places it may be worth another look, but it's not going to happen simply because you want it to.  And if there are judging centers available that will not steal judges from each other, why would we not use those?

The competition is a huge lift and we need participation from as many people as possible.  If you choose to opt out because you don't like the way it works, that is your call.  But if you want to actually help, you could work on getting more judges in your area, and getting those that are already judges to participate whether they are able to get a beer into the competition or not.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 27, 2013, 11:56:55 PM
We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.

If that's the best reason that you've got to not use sanctioned BJCP comps as qualifiers then the solution is an absolute no brainer.
You're going to have to spell it out for me then, because I apparently lack a brain.  If you are suggesting we go from an inclusive model to an exclusive model like the MCAB then I disagree that is the right direction.

Besides, anyone can get a BJCP competition sanctioned.  You could register and host your own, not advertise it, have no one enter except you, and then you win all of the medals at this "BJCP sanctioned competition".  Congratulations, now all of your beers are eligible to enter. ;)

In the end, using qualifying events amounts to adding an additional round which someone will have to manage.  Janis doesn't have time to ride herd on all of the BJCP competitions to figure out who can enter the NHC and who can't, which events count and which don't.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 28, 2013, 12:31:07 AM
At $30-$50 per entry, wouldn't you think there would be a requirement for the judges to be National or above, therefore limiting the number of judges.  I know I wouldn't want to spend that money and have someone like me judge the beer.
My thoughts on having a guy like me judging second round! You want the best of the best.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 12:44:13 AM
I believe you that you responded and turned it down, I did not have that info.  Sorry for misstating it.  However I find it interesting that you simultaneously insist OR gets its own judging center and refuse to host it.

I get that it is annoying that the NW site fills up so fast - that happens everywhere and annoys everyone.  Your demand for two judging centers, one in Seattle, and one in Portland, is not warranted based on the membership numbers in the two states, which is the crux of your argument.  Even if it was however, this is not how judging centers are assigned.  We need people willing to organize it and sufficient judges.  Since Seattle and Portland are so close and judges travel to judge at the NHC, two judging centers would steal judges from each other.  With the recent expansion of the judging pools in these places it may be worth another look, but it's not going to happen simply because you want it to.  And if there are judging centers available that will not steal judges from each other, why would we not use those?

The competition is a huge lift and we need participation from as many people as possible.  If you choose to opt out because you don't like the way it works, that is your call.  But if you want to actually help, you could work on getting more judges in your area, and getting those that are already judges to participate whether they are able to get a beer into the competition or not.

I didn't simultaneously insist on both of those. If we had an additional judging center I would be willing to host it. Don't put words in my mouth here.

I also think your definition of "close" is a little lacking. Last time I look it was a 3.5-4  hour drive to head up to Seattle (from Portland, not counting Salem (5), Bend (7.5), Eugene (6), Medford (8) or other big regions in our state that have a big concentration of homebrewers). Add on having to pay $3.75 for gas and paying for two nights for a hotel it's not as close or as simple as you make it sound. There's a lot of judges from cities south of Portland that are willing to drive up that way, but not to Seattle. 

In the past Portland and Seattle used to split the entries. If we did this again we could easily get rid of the 750 entry limit and bump it up higher.

Also you seem to forget that 3 clubs down here in Oregon passed on hosting the NHC this year and it wasn't cause we couldn't handle it due to some "perceived" lack of judges that you seem to have. Also you make it look like I made the decision to turn the AHA down, when in fact it was a group call.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: duxx on February 28, 2013, 12:48:35 AM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.

@ Denny.  My thought exactly.  I really enjoy & respect input on all the forums where I see your posts.  I want to shake your hand at NHC.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: wxgod on February 28, 2013, 12:49:26 AM
I like the brainstorming going on. I like the ideas. Pretty much anything should be considered, no matter how crazy. Whatever comes out after mulling it all through "should be" the best answer - at least for now/next competition.

* Not sure the idea of giving "entries" for attending certain events, judging, entering events is going to work. Many of us don't have an option to help out at any BJCP sanctioned events (location, time, work duties, etc), thus we eliminate a portion of the potential entries and AHA members right off the bat.
* Sort of like the idea of relating the NHC to medaling in BJCP sanctioned events, but as pointed out, this might not work either. Plus, it could be nightmare to database.

Ultimately, simpler is best. The more complexity we add to it, the greater the potential to fail some where along the way.

Maybe we need to answer this question first: what is more important - ability to participate or amount of entries? My opinion continues to land on "participation".

More diversity enriches the competition. It draws from a broader base of brewers. Different talent levels. Different backgrounds.

I disagree that the capping the amount of entries will result in the same problems as this year. Sure, its possible it could go as fast - but, there would be many more individuals who were able to register and enter their beers. Yes, capping alone does not address the current issues, but it is a step. So is early registration.

Anyway, good conversation, good sharing, hopefully some of this banter will help in the end...

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on February 28, 2013, 01:01:13 AM
Besides, anyone can get a BJCP competition sanctioned.  You could register and host your own, not advertise it, have no one enter except you, and then you win all of the medals at this "BJCP sanctioned competition".  Congratulations, now all of your beers are eligible to enter. ;)

I thought about that and it's actually part of why I like the idea. If someone, for whatever reason, really really wants to enter NHC and really really doesn't want to enter any other competition, they could game the system. For that matter, they could also just forge a scoresheet.

I don't think that it would entail any more work for Janis than she wanted it to. A few random spot checks would probably be a good idea, but the whole competition is already on the honor system. There's nothing stopping us from de-labeling or re-bottling commercial beers.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 28, 2013, 01:23:59 AM
I believe you that you responded and turned it down, I did not have that info.  Sorry for misstating it.  However I find it interesting that you simultaneously insist OR gets its own judging center and refuse to host it.

I get that it is annoying that the NW site fills up so fast - that happens everywhere and annoys everyone.  Your demand for two judging centers, one in Seattle, and one in Portland, is not warranted based on the membership numbers in the two states, which is the crux of your argument.  Even if it was however, this is not how judging centers are assigned.  We need people willing to organize it and sufficient judges.  Since Seattle and Portland are so close and judges travel to judge at the NHC, two judging centers would steal judges from each other.  With the recent expansion of the judging pools in these places it may be worth another look, but it's not going to happen simply because you want it to.  And if there are judging centers available that will not steal judges from each other, why would we not use those?

The competition is a huge lift and we need participation from as many people as possible.  If you choose to opt out because you don't like the way it works, that is your call.  But if you want to actually help, you could work on getting more judges in your area, and getting those that are already judges to participate whether they are able to get a beer into the competition or not.

I didn't simultaneously insist on both of those. If we had an additional judging center I would be willing to host it. Don't put words in my mouth here.

I also think your definition of "close" is a little lacking. Last time I look it was a 3.5-4  hour drive to head up to Seattle (from Portland, not counting Salem (5), Bend (7.5), Eugene (6), Medford (8) or other big regions in our state that have a big concentration of homebrewers). Add on having to pay $3.75 for gas and paying for two nights for a hotel it's not as close or as simple as you make it sound. There's a lot of judges from cities south of Portland that are willing to drive up that way, but not to Seattle. 

In the past Portland and Seattle used to split the entries. If we did this again we could easily get rid of the 750 entry limit and bump it up higher.

Also you seem to forget that 3 clubs down here in Oregon passed on hosting the NHC this year and it wasn't cause we couldn't handle it due to some "perceived" lack of judges that you seem to have. Also you make it look like I made the decision to turn the AHA down, when in fact it was a group call.
It wasn't my intention to put words in your mouth, it appears that is what you are saying.  If there were more judging centers available maybe Portland would get one at the same time as Seattle.  But there's not.  As for close vs. not close, it takes me 3 hours to make the drive and I do it on a regular basis.  Yes, we miss judges from other cities that are further away, but we gain judges from WA cities that don't want to drive all of the way to Portland.  When I've seen the stats on judges that make the trip one way or the other it is 10-20% of the total judges for the competition.  That's a pretty good number.  And if you think 3.5-4 hours is too far, talk to judges in Texas.  Lots of people go a lot further to judge, and sites in both Seattle and Portland would be among the closest (if not the closest) in the country.

The plan to split entries and increase the limit works for Seattle/Portland, but it won't work for every region.  How will NW brewers feel if their beer competes against entries in a 1500 beer region, while other people compete against entries in a 750 beer region?  It all has to be even for at least the perception of fairness.

I haven't forgotten that the NHC was turned down by the clubs in OR and I have no idea what your process for making the decision was.  It doesn't matter if it was a group or individual.  In the past when the possibility of sites in both OR and WA has been raised the concern is always having enough judges, but as I said since the judging pools have increased it is worth another look.  If there were no other sites able to host then it's a viable option, if there are other sites available then I think it is silly to potentially harm both sites.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 28, 2013, 01:30:15 AM
Maybe we need to answer this question first: what is more important - ability to participate or amount of entries? My opinion continues to land on "participation".
I think ultimately the problem is we don't know what the desired level of participation is, just that we're not able to accommodate it this year.  I've seen some good proposals for how to deal with it in the future, and the committee will be discussing those.  We'll probably send out a poll to the members after the conference to get a feel for which options are favored.

I thought about that and it's actually part of why I like the idea. If someone, for whatever reason, really really wants to enter NHC and really really doesn't want to enter any other competition, they could game the system. For that matter, they could also just forge a scoresheet.
This is why I don't favor it - it doesn't really help the problem, and it excludes people who don't want to enter other competitions.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bluesman on February 28, 2013, 01:40:19 AM
We're witnessing some serious growing pains as AHA membership has grown by approximately 50% in the last three years (since 2010) to 32,000+ members, and the NHC interest level has followed suit. I think this kind of growth is great. The AHA is excited about this growth rate, while at the same time challenged to keep up with demands of our growing membership.

The system errors that occurred yesterday are unfortunate. They came unexpectedly and quickly without enough time to make the appropriate adjustments. The AHA is holding meetings to remedy/rectify the immediate situation and the GC will convene for continued discussions on this issue, as well as a stategy to successfully move forward.

I can certainly appreciate everyone's frustration, and will assure you that these issues/concerns will be addressed and acted upon as a number one priority for the AHA Governing Committee. I'm very confident that the AHA will act accordingly to make the necessary improvements going forward.
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on February 28, 2013, 04:03:26 AM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.

@ Denny.  My thought exactly.  I really enjoy & respect input on all the forums where I see your posts.  I want to shake your hand at NHC.

Look for the red Chuck Taylor hi tops!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 28, 2013, 04:05:59 AM

The system errors that occurred yesterday are unfortunate. They came unexpectedly and quickly without enough time to make the appropriate adjustments. The AHA is holding meetings to remedy/rectify the immediate situation and the GC will convene for continued discussions on this issue, as well as a stategy to successfully move forward.


I am grateful for all the work that the AHA does, but I don't think I was alone in not being surprised with how yesterday went.  Sorry to pile on, and it really isn't about the AHA but rather the trouble with any major beer event where tickets go on sale at a certain time.  There's a lot of us thirsty beer lovers out there.  It'll take like 37 minutes to sell out GABF the way things have been going, that is, if we don't crash the system.
cheers--
--michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 28, 2013, 04:20:07 AM
Well Stated but your numbers are a little off Ron
Jan 2010 17,621
Jan 2013 32,231
which is 83% Growth or 14,610 Additional Members in the 3 years since 2010. Nearly doubling. 
As Ron said, this is both exciting and challenging.  AHA Staffing has grown over this time and is continuing to grow to support our growing membership.

I can assure you that the AHA Staff and your Governing Committee planned for an uneventful and smooth registration. We wanted that more than all of you. Obviously that didn't happen.  I'll quote an official AHA release
Quote
The AHA is deeply sorry for the problems associated with NHC registration today. The AHA worked in advance with our providers to ensure that registration would be seamless. But as we all saw, that did not result as promised or planned. We accept responsibility for today’s failures, and we apologize for the headaches.

Other than "splitting" Seattle and Portland, I think everything that has been mentioned has been discussed, and more.  Going forward everything will be on the table, again, as we look forward to next year.   After things settle we will review what happened with an eye toward next year and making next year a better experience for all. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 07:56:17 AM
Well Stated but your numbers are a little off Ron
Jan 2010 17,621
Jan 2013 32,231
which is 83% Growth or 14,610 Additional Members in the 3 years since 2010. Nearly doubling. 
As Ron said, this is both exciting and challenging.  AHA Staffing has grown over this time and is continuing to grow to support our growing membership.

I can assure you that the AHA Staff and your Governing Committee planned for an uneventful and smooth registration. We wanted that more than all of you. Obviously that didn't happen.  I'll quote an official AHA release
Quote
The AHA is deeply sorry for the problems associated with NHC registration today. The AHA worked in advance with our providers to ensure that registration would be seamless. But as we all saw, that did not result as promised or planned. We accept responsibility for today’s failures, and we apologize for the headaches.

Other than "splitting" Seattle and Portland, I think everything that has been mentioned has been discussed, and more.  Going forward everything will be on the table, again, as we look forward to next year.   After things settle we will review what happened with an eye toward next year and making next year a better experience for all.

This is the second year in a row there have been problems. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me....I'd like to think there's not going to be a fool me three times in there but with the current makeup of the boards and not much new blood in there to tackle these new problems I'm not too hopeful.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 01:34:37 PM
Was there problems registering for the competition last year?  I got my 4 entries in no problem and then remember watching the site to see how fast they filled up.  Not as fast as this year, but pretty quickly.  I just don't remember any issues with the comp registration, hotel, or conference.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Hokerer on February 28, 2013, 01:43:06 PM
We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.

If that's the best reason that you've got to not use sanctioned BJCP comps as qualifiers then the solution is an absolute no brainer.
Besides, anyone can get a BJCP competition sanctioned.  You could register and host your own, not advertise it, have no one enter except you, and then you win all of the medals at this "BJCP sanctioned competition".  Congratulations, now all of your beers are eligible to enter. ;)

Yes, I missed a word there.  I should have said "AHA sanctioned BJCP comps".  Have a set of minimum standards (# of entries, quantity/quality of judges, years in existence, whatever else you want).  Minimal additional effort on the AHA's part to "ride herd" on something like that.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Hokerer on February 28, 2013, 01:49:01 PM
We also considered the situation where only beers that qualified in other competitions could be entered.  Personally I think this goes against the spirit of the NHC, where anyone can win.  I think the inclusiveness is one of this competitions greatest strengths.

If that's the best reason that you've got to not use sanctioned BJCP comps as qualifiers then the solution is an absolute no brainer.
You're going to have to spell it out for me then, because I apparently lack a brain.  If you are suggesting we go from an inclusive model to an exclusive model like the MCAB then I disagree that is the right direction.

I don't understand this statement at all.  As it stands now, the NHC is extremely exclusive.  The only folks allowed to participate are those that can take the time out of the middle of their workday to hope that they might, just possibly, get through the system far enough to enter the comp.

The only aspect that is inclusive is that yes, anyone can enter any beer they feel like no matter how crappy or not it might be.  Adding a third round (preliminary qualifiers) in no way reduces that inclusiveness as again, anyone can enter those (and not be subject to the exclusiveness of the first paragraph).
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 02:07:02 PM
I don't see where it's extremely exclusive.  Everyone had the same opportunity to experience 503 Service Unavailable errors as anyone else.  The brewer has to make a decision if it's important enough to take time off from work, shift their lunch hour, or call in sick to be available for the opening of registration.  Moving it to a Saturday or evening may work, but not everyone is working banker's hours, (2nd & 3rd shifts, working weekends, etc ), so you potentially exclude them.

I am against a prequalifier for the ability to enter the first round of the NHC.  That's potentially 3 brewing days for one competition depending on the style.  Now you exclude the people who try to fit a brewday in between work, kid's karate, family time, and all the other crap we save up for the weekend. 

I enjoy enter the national competition, but the rule changes proposed will exclude me from entering in the future (prequalifier, $30 entry fee, etc.)...so mission accomplished I guess.

I don't see an too much of an issue with lowering the limit to 10, but I would never enter that many anyway, so I'd hate to exclude the one who do.


Title: Re: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on February 28, 2013, 02:55:21 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
me too


Same here. Good thing we have people like that running for the AHA Governing Committee...  ::)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: weithman5 on February 28, 2013, 02:58:29 PM


Besides, anyone can get a BJCP competition sanctioned.  You could register and host your own, not advertise it, have no one enter except you, and then you win all of the medals at this "BJCP sanctioned competition".  Congratulations, now all of your beers are eligible to enter. ;)



finally i could win a medal 8)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on February 28, 2013, 03:19:52 PM
Was there problems registering for the competition last year?  I got my 4 entries in no problem and then remember watching the site to see how fast they filled up.  Not as fast as this year, but pretty quickly.  I just don't remember any issues with the comp registration, hotel, or conference.

here's a thread from last year.
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=11258.0 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=11258.0)

here's one of several threads from earlier this year on conference registration
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14662.0 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14662.0)

here's a thread on GABF troubles
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=12908.0 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=12908.0)

and here's a comment from you on conference registration last year:
"...Obviously the servers are overloaded but it will eventually go through.  It felt like I was trying to get Buffett tickets."   ;D

by comparison to this year, last year does seem like a walk in the park, but last year did surprise many people.  I got multiple e-mails from coworkers a year ago asking if I wanted to go in together for shipping our entries and had to tell them it was already full.  Not everyone lives on the AHA forum, or at least so I'm told.
The AHA is a victim of its own Awesomeness.   8)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: rjharper on February 28, 2013, 03:33:01 PM
There's no easy answer to any of this, demand clearly swamps supply. We've had good suggestions of caps, earned places, qualifying rounds etc, but what I focus on is who is entering. Anyone can enter, its all inclusive, but we should be setting expectations. I realize this may sound arrogant or elitist, so hear me out. If I you don't honestly think your beer can win BOS, then why enter?.  If you've got some score sheets back from other competitions with a 32 and "great beer" in the comments, well done, but that's not going to cut it in NHC.  Beers submitted to NHC should be labors of love, tweaked recipes that have been rebrewed and improved until they're perfect to their owners

If your beer isn't consistently medalling in AHA competitions / state fairs / MCAB qualifiers, or at least regularly scoring in the upper 30s / 40s, then all you're going to get from NHC is more feedback, and that's not what NHC is about. I've got six beers going into NHC that have medaled multiple times and regularly score hi 30s and 40s. I've been brewing for 7 years but havent entered in the past because I haven't felt my beers were good enough. This year I decided I was ready to step up to the plate. This year I think I'm finally good enough for NHC. I think NHC should be where the best beers in America duke it out. Maybe thats already taken care of with MCAB. Justs my 2 cents.

I apologize to anyone I offend with this; I'm very passionate about brewing, and don't want to see the AHA implode from unsustainable growth.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on February 28, 2013, 03:35:47 PM
Moving it to a Saturday or evening may work, but not everyone is working banker's hours, (2nd & 3rd shifts, working weekends, etc ), so you potentially exclude them.

That's why the only fair solution would be one that incentivizes fewer total entries (relative to the number of available spots, should that increase). The goal needs to be to get back to a >24 hour entry window before the contest fills up. That gives almost everyone, regardless of time zone or work schedule, a chance to enter at their convenience.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: narvin on February 28, 2013, 03:39:58 PM
There are two separate issues here.  Obviously, demand has been increasing every year... all regions filled up within 3 days last year, and a few hours this year.  There has been lots of discussion on how to fix this.

The other problem is that the registration software that the AHA switched to this year is garbage.  Looking at the company behind it (zkdigital.com), it's some guy in Colorado who probably knows beer but lacks any technical background other than some web design skills.  You need to be licensed to do my taxes but any random guy can still write server software?  C'mon, it's 2012.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on February 28, 2013, 04:00:15 PM
Maybe we just need to slow down the registration process.  If we limited the registration to one beer per member at a time (and then you need to get back into the cue and start all over), then more people would have a chance to register their 1st beer.  You could limit 5 individual entries per day, as well (if 5 is the magic number, it could be more or less).

If we staggered the region time slots less people would be entering at the same time (if this is/was the problem), or do a lottery or priority system (again that thing!) to get into the cue at certain times.  I remember when my college went from a card/stand in line system for registration, to a phone registration system.  As a freshman, I couldn't register until a certain time, as Senior's had priority.

I think it also needs to be closed to non-members now (not that that would change the landscape at all, but we have gotten to the point where membership has to have priority).
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 28, 2013, 04:07:08 PM
There's no easy answer to any of this, demand clearly swamps supply. We've had good suggestions of caps, earned places, qualifying rounds etc, but what I focus on is who is entering. Anyone can enter, its all inclusive, but we should be setting expectations. I realize this may sound arrogant or elitist, so hear me out. If I you don't honestly think your beer can win BOS, then why enter?.  If you've got some score sheets back from other competitions with a 32 and "great beer" in the comments, well done, but that's not going to cut it in NHC.  Beers submitted to NHC should be labors of love, tweaked recipes that have been rebrewed and improved until they're perfect to their owners

If your beer isn't consistently medalling in AHA competitions / state fairs / MCAB qualifiers, or at least regularly scoring in the upper 30s / 40s, then all you're going to get from NHC is more feedback, and that's not what NHC is about. I've got six beers going into NHC that have medaled multiple times and regularly score hi 30s and 40s. I've been brewing for 7 years but havent entered in the past because I haven't felt my beers were good enough. This year I decided I was ready to step up to the plate. This year I think I'm finally good enough for NHC. I think NHC should be where the best beers in America duke it out. Maybe thats already taken care of with MCAB. Justs my 2 cents.

I apologize to anyone I offend with this; I'm very passionate about brewing, and don't want to see the AHA implode from unsustainable growth.
+1!!!!   And that is what a higher entry fee will do..people will be sending the beers that they feel are the best of the best.  It will help lower the amount of people "carpet bombing" the competition with every beer they have brewed in the last 6 months.   The brewers who brew beers specifically for the NHC,and have put in many hours refining and brewing will pay the higher entrance fees. The guys just looking for feedback will opt out and find other comps. 
Title: Re: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 04:07:28 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
me too


Same here. Good thing we have people like that running for the AHA Governing Committee...  ::)

You know, I'd really hate to call out Denny here but I never saw him at the last 2 years NHC, Slurp n Burp, Fall Classic, HOTV, Oregon State Fair, KLCC Judging competition or Septemberfest. So apparently they are already on the board....there's your rolleyes.....

Sorry Denny. I still love ya:(
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 04:11:55 PM
I don't see where it's extremely exclusive.  Everyone had the same opportunity to experience 503 Service Unavailable errors as anyone else.  The brewer has to make a decision if it's important enough to take time off from work, shift their lunch hour, or call in sick to be available for the opening of registration.  Moving it to a Saturday or evening may work, but not everyone is working banker's hours, (2nd & 3rd shifts, working weekends, etc ), so you potentially exclude them.

I am against a prequalifier for the ability to enter the first round of the NHC.  That's potentially 3 brewing days for one competition depending on the style.  Now you exclude the people who try to fit a brewday in between work, kid's karate, family time, and all the other crap we save up for the weekend. 

I enjoy enter the national competition, but the rule changes proposed will exclude me from entering in the future (prequalifier, $30 entry fee, etc.)...so mission accomplished I guess.

I don't see an too much of an issue with lowering the limit to 10, but I would never enter that many anyway, so I'd hate to exclude the one who do.

I'm glad I have this in print and that I said it before it happened, but anyone who was in IT and have hosted sites that get a flood of traffic for events like this could have seen that this was going to be a disaster. Opening up all of the sites at once without some type of scalable solution to handle the traffic was a poor decision. They should have either had cascading openings for each of the regions which could have handled the server load better or they should have done better testing in the first place. Did anyone actually run a test on the system with and expected serverload of 20-30k sessions?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 04:15:02 PM
There are two separate issues here.  Obviously, demand has been increasing every year... all regions filled up within 3 days last year, and a few hours this year.  There has been lots of discussion on how to fix this.

The other problem is that the registration software that the AHA switched to this year is garbage.  It's unacceptable to have unqualified people hacking together technology like this.   Looking at the "company" behind it (zkdigital.com), it's some guy in Colorado who probably knows people in the beer world but lacks any technical background other than some web design skills.  You need to be licensed to do my taxes but any random guy can still write server software?  C'mon, it's 2012.

The software is actually better then anything else out there at this time. I argue that the problem was that the server it was living on wasn't scalable enough and the AHA didn't do enough testing before hand to see if it was able to handle the load. If they did they would have seen this was going to be an issue in the first place.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on February 28, 2013, 04:26:17 PM
There are two separate issues here.  Obviously, demand has been increasing every year... all regions filled up within 3 days last year, and a few hours this year.  There has been lots of discussion on how to fix this.

The other problem is that the registration software that the AHA switched to this year is garbage.  It's unacceptable to have unqualified people hacking together technology like this.   Looking at the "company" behind it (zkdigital.com), it's some guy in Colorado who probably knows people in the beer world but lacks any technical background other than some web design skills.  You need to be licensed to do my taxes but any random guy can still write server software?  C'mon, it's 2012.

I'll put on my business hat for a second and say, if the AHA needs somebody to redo their systems for this, I am currently lead developer for a group of sites that each get ~60k hits per day, or about 40 connections per minute. And that's a slow day. I'd love to volunteer a bit of time to help build something nicer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 28, 2013, 04:39:16 PM
Why set an arbitrary limit to the number of entries a person can enter, when you can just determine the number with a 2 step registration process.

Step 1) Put your personal information into the system and declare how many entries (1-82) you would like to enter.  This can be done over the course of a week if you want.  Then lock it down.  No more people can enter.  This fixes the problem of everyone logging on all at once.

Once you know how many people want to enter, then you set the limit on entries per person.  Since you know how many entries each person would like to enter, you have the potential to allow the more ambitious brewers the opportunity to submit as many entries as the competition will allow.  There is the potential of having more entrants than entries under this type of registration.  I don't think we are there yet, but if we are there then the only fair way to allow members to enter is by lottery and limiting the entries to one per person (or household).  If so, hold the lottery, inform the lucky and unlucky members and proceed to step 2.  Assuming we have more entries than entrants, you then you let each member know how many entries they are allowed and proceed to step 2.

Step 2) Registering and paying for the entries.  There could be a mad rush on certain regions, but at least you know there is spot available.  Thus you will probably need to allow people to register in multiple regions.  This window could be open for a week as well. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 28, 2013, 04:42:33 PM
Efforts are still underway to recover from what happened.  AHA Staff is in early and leaving late.

I see all this analysis of what happened and the truth is we, the AHA, BA, and GC, have suspicions but have not yet completely followed thru on what happened, have not completed the analysis of what happened, something about being too busy correcting what went wrong. 

You cannot fix a problem until you know exactly what went wrong.  It is too early to tell. 

I am a software tester by trade and you cannot tell the cause by looking at just the User Interface, which is all our members have seen.

A promise.  We will look into what happened and take measures to ensure it does not happen again.

Last year there were issues, these were analyzed and addressed over the past year.  On a preliminary basis it looks like we have a different set of problems this year.  EVERYONE on this end do not want events/registration to roll like this.

Fred
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 04:42:49 PM
and here's a comment from you on conference registration last year:
"...Obviously the servers are overloaded but it will eventually go through.  It felt like I was trying to get Buffett tickets."   ;D

Yes, I did say that but I didn't think it was an issue.  Like you said, last year was a walk in the park compared to this year.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 04:44:37 PM
Efforts are still underway to recover from what happened.  AHA Staff is in early and leaving late.

I see all this analysis of what happened and the truth is we, the AHA, BA, and GC, have suspicions but have not yet completely followed thru on what happened, have not completed the analysis of what happened, something about being too busy correcting what went wrong. 

You cannot fix a problem until you know exactly what went wrong.  It is too early to tell. 

I am a software tester by trade and you cannot tell the cause by looking at just the User Interface, which is all our members have seen.

A promise.  We will look into what happened and take measures to ensure it does not happen again.

Last year there were issues, these were analyzed and addressed over the past year.  On a preliminary basis it looks like we have a different set of problems this year.  EVERYONE on this end do not want events/registration to roll like this.

Fred

Could you please give us some details on what type of server load testing was preformed?
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on February 28, 2013, 04:49:56 PM
The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

I'm speechless about that kind of attitude.
me too


Same here. Good thing we have people like that running for the AHA Governing Committee...  ::)

You know, I'd really hate to call out Denny here but I never saw him at the last 2 years NHC, Slurp n Burp, Fall Classic, HOTV, Oregon State Fair, KLCC Judging competition or Septemberfest. So apparently they are already on the board....there's your rolleyes.....

Sorry Denny. I still love ya:(

Chris, if they were on a Mon. night, I'd be there.  Unfortunately, I almost always work weekends.  Believe me, I'd rather be judging.  When I am able to judge, I certainly don't do it on a quid pro quo like some of the people you mentioned.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 04:54:54 PM
+1!!!!   And that is what a higher entry fee will do..people will be sending the beers that they feel are the best of the best.  It will help lower the amount of people "carpet bombing" the competition with every beer they have brewed in the last 6 months.   The brewers who brew beers specifically for the NHC,and have put in many hours refining and brewing will pay the higher entrance fees. The guys just looking for feedback will opt out and find other comps.

I don't agree with this.  This year, I specifically scheduled my brew days for the competition, entered beers that I thought could win ( some have won this year including NHC ).  Even though I paid more than $30 to register my entries this year, if I had to pay $30 to register one, I just wouldn't bother...even if I had won with that beer throughout the year.  I also think the banquet awards ceremony wouldn't be as exciting as it is now, knowing that anyone has a chance to win, not just the ones with the means (i.e. $$)

With the cost to attend NHC every year going up, it just wouldn't be worth it to me.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 28, 2013, 04:55:41 PM
There are two separate issues here.  Obviously, demand has been increasing every year... all regions filled up within 3 days last year, and a few hours this year.  There has been lots of discussion on how to fix this.

The other problem is that the registration software that the AHA switched to this year is garbage.  It's unacceptable to have unqualified people hacking together technology like this.   Looking at the "company" behind it (zkdigital.com), it's some guy in Colorado who probably knows people in the beer world but lacks any technical background other than some web design skills.  You need to be licensed to do my taxes but any random guy can still write server software?  C'mon, it's 2012.
Was that last sentence sarcasm? My humor detector is on the fritz.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on February 28, 2013, 04:58:09 PM
They should have either had cascading openings for each of the regions which could have handled the server load better

Except that anybody can enter any region, so everybody would just try to enter in the first opened region at the same time.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 28, 2013, 05:02:47 PM
With the cost to attend NHC every year going up, it just wouldn't be worth it to me.
Can you be more specific? 
Conference cost, Hotel cost, or Travel cost?
The first one, Conference cost, has had very few increases, Hotel, we have a little control over and have held the increases down, travel we have no influence on.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 28, 2013, 05:07:50 PM
Last year I had an O'fest that got a 42 in a local competition with >1000 entries. In the first round it got a 33. Sent a keg to club night, and some guys named Mitch Steele and Tasty McDole were behind our booth when I got back, with lots of questions about the beer along with a lot of praise. That was my reward last year.

Just wanted to point out sometimes Festbier will get a judge looking for a Maerzen. So much for the other competitions as an entry filter - the crapshoot factor.

Maybe retiring the Ninkasi is a solution (thought I would never say that). Homebrewer of the Year can be acheived with one entry.

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on February 28, 2013, 05:22:20 PM
+1!!!!   And that is what a higher entry fee will do..people will be sending the beers that they feel are the best of the best.  It will help lower the amount of people "carpet bombing" the competition with every beer they have brewed in the last 6 months.   The brewers who brew beers specifically for the NHC,and have put in many hours refining and brewing will pay the higher entrance fees. The guys just looking for feedback will opt out and find other comps.

I don't agree with this.  This year, I specifically scheduled my brew days for the competition, entered beers that I thought could win ( some have won this year including NHC ).  Even though I paid more than $30 to register my entries this year, if I had to pay $30 to register one, I just wouldn't bother...even if I had won with that beer throughout the year.  I also think the banquet awards ceremony wouldn't be as exciting as it is now, knowing that anyone has a chance to win, not just the ones with the means (i.e. $$)

With the cost to attend NHC every year going up, it just wouldn't be worth it to me.
I have never gone to the NHC and don't plan to unless it is in my backyard. It's just too expensive when you factor in the conference, hotel, and airfare/gas.  I find it funny that people are willing to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to attend the NHC but balk at raising entry fees by 15-30 dollars per entry.  The net result is that you send 4-5 of your best beers instead of 10 beers. It opens up the field so that more brewers can send in their best beers.  I think you are fooling yourself if you think the winners of the NHC are the best of the best when many, many people were shut out of entering all together.  This year it will be the best of the best of people who were fortunate to get a slot.  Might as well make it a random lottery.....
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: ghumphrey on February 28, 2013, 05:23:01 PM
As the "random guy in Colorado" I don't feel any need to defend myself or the software. The 100s of competitions that are using or have used this OPEN SOURCE and FREE software are more testament to its success than the issues experienced with the NHC registration on Tuesday.

I was honored that the AHA wanted to use the software for the NHC. I stand by it and welcome anyone's input into its continued development - like I said, it's open source (https://code.google.com/p/brewcompetitiononlineentry/). Admittedly, I am a self-taught php "programmer" - however, I saw a need for a particular product and filled that need for my own uses initially. I've put literally 1000s of hours into the continued development and happily dove into helping the AHA, modifying it to fit their needs.

It's true that the events of the 26th necessitate some serious consideration and remediation. Believe me, I've been in constant contact with the folks at the AHA since 1:05 PM on Tuesday. They are working long hours at 110% to make things right, analyze what went wrong, and figure our what to do about.

At least this "random guy in Colorado" did something about helping the homebrewing community in a way he feels reasonably competent instead of complaining about it in some forum.

That's all I am going to say about the subject.

Thanks,

Geoff
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on February 28, 2013, 05:25:19 PM
Thanks Geoff

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I717 using Tapatalk 2

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: noghri_vir on February 28, 2013, 05:29:45 PM
They should have either had cascading openings for each of the regions which could have handled the server load better

Except that anybody can enter any region, so everybody would just try to enter in the first opened region at the same time.

Limit the first day to only be open to AHA members, and that you could only enter in your home region. Then on the second day it would be open to non AHA members and you could enter any region you want.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 28, 2013, 05:47:43 PM
Yes, I missed a word there.  I should have said "AHA sanctioned BJCP comps".  Have a set of minimum standards (# of entries, quantity/quality of judges, years in existence, whatever else you want).  Minimal additional effort on the AHA's part to "ride herd" on something like that.
Number of entries is an easy metric to track, quantity/quality of judges is harder . . . I think this would be more work than you are making it out to be.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 06:03:38 PM
With the cost to attend NHC every year going up, it just wouldn't be worth it to me.
Can you be more specific? 
Conference cost, Hotel cost, or Travel cost?
The first one, Conference cost, has had very few increases, Hotel, we have a little control over and have held the increases down, travel we have no influence on.

Fred,

I was referring to the total cost to attend, which I realize the AHA doesn't have a lot of control over.  It was not meant to offend or suggest the AHA, GC, or local committees aren't doing a great job setting these events up...they are.

Thanks!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on February 28, 2013, 06:24:17 PM
I think you are fooling yourself if you think the winners of the NHC are the best of the best when many, many people were shut out of entering all together.  This year it will be the best of the best of people who were fortunate to get a slot.  Might as well make it a random lottery.....

I don't think anyone is fooling themselves, but to say that winning a medal doesn't grant you some standing because you were lucky to get in when others didn't is a little insulting.  I definitely admit I am not the best of the best, but do the best I can and try to improve.  Many of the best brewers out there don't even compete, so what does that say about last year's winners?  Again, some got shut out which is unfortunately,  but entering beers that I've been brewing over the past 6 months in preparation for the competition was a priority to me.  So I made sure I was available when registration opened.  And I do not "carpet bomb".  I had two other beers I could have entered but didn't because I didn't feel like they were worthy.

What about the brewers who don't attend NHC because they can't afford it until it's in their backyard so they can limit the expense of travel, and share a room with 3 other people to cut down on cost?  If they decide $30 is too steep for a brewing competition, is there beer not considered the best of the best?

And it's because we are willing to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to attend the greatest homebrew event in the world that we balk at increasing the cost even more by doubling the entry fee for competition.  Again, if it happens, I just won't enter.  But I will still attend NHC and have a great time.

NHC is one of the comps I try to enter each year.  Other ones I will enter will either be local, or if someone I know from The Brewing Network is calling for entries and it fits my timeline.

Based on the responses from Tom, Ron, Fred, and others, I know the opinions on both sides will get their day in court and hopefully the outcome will benefit the membership as a whole.

edit:  although I think Tom will take a position opposing me because he hates Belichick  ;D
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: snowtiger87 on February 28, 2013, 06:47:33 PM
I would not pay more to enter a beer than it cost my for ingredients to make the beer. At $30 an entry that is the case. At $12 an entry it is already the most expensive contest that I enter.

My recommendations

1) Limit entries to 5

2) Early registration for AHA members

3) Day 1 entry for AHA members only

4) Start on a weekend or at night
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Bruce B on February 28, 2013, 06:51:59 PM
Quote
I meant by them not being able to get a beer in the competition, what's their motivation to help out with the rest of the competition? Last year I wasn't able to get a beer in, so I never felt the need to help out and planned on heading skiing that weekend instead. I only judged once the organizer started begging for judges and I did so more as a favor to him, not the NHC.

The two years I was the organizer up here I heard the same type of stories from many of our BJCP judges in the area. They didn't have a beer in the contest so they didn't feel the need to give back.

Wow.  If this is what's stopping people from judging then adding an additional qualifying location would seem  to only be a temporary solution.  Not everyone can move on to the final round so what's to stop people from judging if they are able to submit an entry but unable to move on to the finals?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AleForce on February 28, 2013, 07:00:34 PM
I would not pay more to enter a beer than it cost my for ingredients to make the beer. At $30 an entry that is the case. At $12 an entry it is already the most expensive contest that I enter.

My recommendations

1) Limit entries to 5

2) Early registration for AHA members

3) Day 1 entry for AHA members only

4) Start on a weekend or at night

+1
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 28, 2013, 07:06:00 PM
edit:  although I think Tom will take a position opposing me because he hates Belichick  ;D
I'm pretty sure I saw you video taping the brewers working on their recipes at the last brew day!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on February 28, 2013, 07:51:44 PM
At least this "random guy in Colorado" did something about helping the homebrewing community in a way he feels reasonably competent instead of complaining about it in some forum.

That's all I am going to say about the subject.

Thanks,

Geoff

BOOM.

I'm all about some of the proposed changes, but blaming Geoff for this is not entirely fair. He's right - nearly everyone uses this software for their competitions. And with how many complaints? The AHA should have known that this would have been a high demand time and required (paid) for server space to accommodate.

If you want to help - volunteer at your nearest judging center. Lord knows we will need all the help we can get! BTW, if you come and help in KC, we may or may not have smoked brisket for lunch on Saturday... just sayin'.  ;D
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: davidgzach on February 28, 2013, 08:06:22 PM
I would not pay more to enter a beer than it cost my for ingredients to make the beer. At $30 an entry that is the case. At $12 an entry it is already the most expensive contest that I enter.

My recommendations

1) Limit entries to 5

2) Early registration for AHA members

3) Day 1 entry for AHA members only

4) Start on a weekend or at night

+1
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on February 28, 2013, 08:18:44 PM
Quote
Last year I had an O'fest that got a 42 in a local competition with >1000 entries. In the first round it got a 33. Sent a keg to club night, and some guys named Mitch Steele and Tasty McDole were behind our booth when I got back, with lots of questions about the beer along with a lot of praise. That was my reward last year.

That is the coolest story ever!  I would trade a medal for that feedback (of a couple of people that I hold in high regard/respect) any day.  Unfortunately, I don't brew enough to share so prolifically, so a couple bottles here and there make more sense (perfect for a competition).

I am very close to being done with NHC, as a competitor at least, beer is a social thing anyway.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: weithman5 on February 28, 2013, 08:27:53 PM

 how many entries (1-82) you would like to enter. 


i still have a problem with huge number of entries per competitor, though i know that there are probably only a few who do that.  decide which type of dark lager you brewed and enter it once, it doesn't need to be in all three categories
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: narvin on February 28, 2013, 09:05:52 PM

I'm all about some of the proposed changes, but blaming Geoff for this is not entirely fair. He's right - nearly everyone uses this software for their competitions. And with how many complaints? The AHA should have known that this would have been a high demand time and required (paid) for server space to accommodate.


All I can go by is this experience and what I've read in the other thread (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=14889.msg189029#msg189029):

The software is problematic. I run the UK National Homebrew Competition, have helped with the Irish National Homebrew Competition and we have similar problems with hosting on a server I own. Multiple registrations at the same time seem to shut the database down.


It seems obvious that this was not ready for prime time.  I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that serious consideration is taken before using this system again for an organization as large as the AHA.  This is not a knock on your effort, just a reality of production-ready software.

I didn't realize this was open source software, so I do apologize for my initial reaction.  I expected someone to be making a quick buck while everyone else suffered.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: brewmanator on February 28, 2013, 09:35:01 PM

 how many entries (1-82) you would like to enter. 


i still have a problem with huge number of entries per competitor, though i know that there are probably only a few who do that.  decide which type of dark lager you brewed and enter it once, it doesn't need to be in all three categories

I don’t like the idea either, but the AHA has allowed this to happen in the past, and I wanted to at least make it theoretically possible to enter the maximum number.   I think we all know that the days of getting 50+ entries into this competition are over.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Bruce B on February 28, 2013, 10:59:35 PM
As the "random guy in Colorado" I don't feel any need to defend myself or the software. The 100s of competitions that are using or have used this OPEN SOURCE and FREE software are more testament to its success than the issues experienced with the NHC registration on Tuesday.

I was honored that the AHA wanted to use the software for the NHC. I stand by it and welcome anyone's input into its continued development - like I said, it's open source (https://code.google.com/p/brewcompetitiononlineentry/). Admittedly, I am a self-taught php "programmer" - however, I saw a need for a particular product and filled that need for my own uses initially. I've put literally 1000s of hours into the continued development and happily dove into helping the AHA, modifying it to fit their needs.

It's true that the events of the 26th necessitate some serious consideration and remediation. Believe me, I've been in constant contact with the folks at the AHA since 1:05 PM on Tuesday. They are working long hours at 110% to make things right, analyze what went wrong, and figure our what to do about.

At least this "random guy in Colorado" did something about helping the homebrewing community in a way he feels reasonably competent instead of complaining about it in some forum.

That's all I am going to say about the subject.

Thanks,

Geoff

I've been using BCOE&M on all four competitions I'm involved with since 2008 (then just BCOE) and will continue to do so as long as I stay involved with those competitions and the product remains available.  It provides a great service and I can't imagine doing a competition without it. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: thetooth on March 01, 2013, 05:58:17 AM
I know plenty of people with more money than skill, and they wouldn't not balk at throwing a bunch of money at $40 entries if they think it'll help them win some national awards.  Raising the entry fees to an abnormally high price would just encourage wealthier people to throw money at it while pushing out people with less means and quite possibly more skill and/or desire. 

If you want to limit the amount of entries per person, it would make more sense to just limit the number of entries per person rather than making it a question of your disposable income.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on March 01, 2013, 07:25:19 AM
I know plenty of people with more money than skill, and they wouldn't not balk at throwing a bunch of money at $40 entries if they think it'll help them win some national awards.  Raising the entry fees to an abnormally high price would just encourage wealthier people to throw money at it while pushing out people with less means and quite possibly more skill and/or desire. 

If you want to limit the amount of entries per person, it would make more sense to just limit the number of entries per person rather than making it a question of your disposable income.

I think limiting the number of entries is a good start but I still don't think that will be enough. It's limited to 15 right now and obviously that was still too many. I understand your point about disposable income.  Someone mentioned a few pages back that one of the years Gordon Strong won the Ninkasi he spent one weeks salary on entry fees and shipping.  That sounds completely crazy to me but I don't think he "bought" the contest.   In fact I think by raising the entry fee you are not going to eliminate the hardcore homebrewer just the casual one who enters the NHC on a whim( like me!!).  In fact maybe if they raised the fees the AHA could hire an extra staffer or two to help Janice out.....thus helping all of us out!!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 01, 2013, 11:30:38 AM
I have two things to say about all this, the first is related to comps, and the second is technical and I need to do a bit more research first so I'll post that later. The first part:

TL;DR: Get rid of the current competition system. Replace it with two separate comps, one which is judging/feedback ONLY (no winning awards) and another which is ONLY awards, but with no categories. BOS-type stuff.

OK now long-form: It seems to me that there are two camps when it comes to these comps. Those who are looking for feedback on their beers, to help improve, and those who want to win awards. There is of course crossover between the two groups, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who only want feedback and don't care about awards (me, for example) and there are also plenty of people who only want to win awards and are confident in their brewing practices etc.

The problem as I see it is that not enough of either group are getting to do what they want to do. We can fix this by creating two separate judging events, one technical, one 'pleasure.'

The technical judging event would include all 38 flavors (or whatever) of BJCP categories. Each beer would be judged by a BJCP-certified judge, and scored according to BJCP guidelines. I would say a bit of 'you should try doing X to improve this beer' would be warranted in the feedback section. Anybody who wanted to get feedback on their beers would be able to do so, and you'd probably see MORE entries because you take away the competitive element that might scare some people away. Judged, but not JUDGED, as it were.

Now here's where I may get into toe-stepping-on-territory: The other event - the taste- and pleasure-oriented competition - would use exactly zero BJCP guidelines. None. You enter whatever beers you think are your best, regardless of style, perceived flaws, etc. Your beers will be judged along the lines of: "Is this a beer that I'd like to share with my friends?" "If I saw that a pub had this on draft, would I go out of my way to stop by and have a pint?" "Does this beer inspire me?" Judges would not need to have BJCP certification, and thus anybody could volunteer to judge. Obviously they would need to have an appreciation of beer, and would need to try to be open to any style of beer, but there's no reason why they'd have to have passed any test. This sort of competition could also potentially serve as a bit of evangelism for the BJCP program as a whole - you show people, who would never have normally considered doing BJCP, that judging can be fun, and get them interested, and get them on the BJCP exam track, and then eventually they can become technical judges.

I think that only allowing the 'pleasure' contest to be allowed to earn awards would actually do a lot for advancing our hobby. People would not feel bound to any specific category, and creating a new award for 'most innovative homebrew' would get people thinking about how they could approach the creation of interesting beer, as opposed to beer that matches an arbitrary style. This is NOT to say that I think BJCP guidelines are worthless, far from it. For people either exploring a style, or trying to increase their technical proficiency, fixed goals like that are excellent. I wouldn't have learned how to make lagers if it hadn't been for the CAP subcategory, nor would I have known what to have expected when drinking it afterwards, due to the lack of any examples out in my neck of the woods.

I have two anecdotes as pertains to the idea of dropping categories for award-eligible brews:

The first comes from my friend Laurent, who is the former president of the European Beer Consumers Union, and has judged in just about every contest known to man. We have gone back and forth over categories for about two years now, and he has always taken then anti-category stance. I used to be firmly in the categories4evah camp, but he's slowly warmed me up to the other side. So the other day, he told me about a horrific judging session he did (I think it was @ GABF) where it was time to judge category 21A. Everybody and their mother had decided to enter a Pumpkin beer. After the first sample, every beer tasted pretty much the same. A page came up with water & crackers during a break and said, "Hey guys, having fun?" and Laurent said he told the page that he'd be happy to trade places (or that he wanted to slap the guy in the face, I can't remember which one). After a while everything tasted like some mixture of cinnamon, clove, or allspice. There was just one beer that was truly interesting, an imperial stout with an aroma that was actually roast pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie. Just one beer like that, out of 35 or so. He told me that as he saw it, that was the problem with categories, that everybody eventually ends up submitting the same beer. Great for education, bad for competitions.

The second comes from Garrett Oliver, who told me about a time he was judging the grand final for GABF alongside Michael Jackson. Michael asked everybody to quiet down for a moment and told them he wanted to say something before they started judging.

He said (I paraphrase here): "I want to tell you a story about my very first beer experience. I lived in a little village in England and there was this pub that everyone absolutely adored. It seemed like the entire town would come out to drink their beer on Friday or Saturday nights.

The atmosphere was amazing, the people were wonderful, but of course the main reason everybody had come together and created this atmosphere was the beer. The bar, and the beer itself, had a smell that would stick to you, permeate your clothes, and the next morning the lingering smell could bring back smiles when you would remember the time you spent with friends the night before.

Now, once I started really getting into beer, and understanding things like 'styles' and 'faults' and 'off-flavors,' I discovered where that smell had come from - the smell that everyone in my village associated with a fun place to have a good pint and enjoy the company of friends. And that smell was diacetyl.

So I would just like to ask you, when you go to judge these world-calibre beers, to keep in mind that experience, and ask yourself a little more of, "is this a beer that I would go out of my way to share with friends?" and a little less of "this beer has 0.075 microns of ethyl acetate."

That's my $0.02 anyway.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 01, 2013, 01:18:05 PM
I know plenty of people with more money than skill, and they wouldn't not balk at throwing a bunch of money at $40 entries if they think it'll help them win some national awards.  Raising the entry fees to an abnormally high price would just encourage wealthier people to throw money at it while pushing out people with less means and quite possibly more skill and/or desire. 

If you want to limit the amount of entries per person, it would make more sense to just limit the number of entries per person rather than making it a question of your disposable income.

I think limiting the number of entries is a good start but I still don't think that will be enough. It's limited to 15 right now and obviously that was still too many. I understand your point about disposable income.  Someone mentioned a few pages back that one of the years Gordon Strong won the Ninkasi he spent one weeks salary on entry fees and shipping.  That sounds completely crazy to me but I don't think he "bought" the contest.   In fact I think by raising the entry fee you are not going to eliminate the hardcore homebrewer just the casual one who enters the NHC on a whim( like me!!).  In fact maybe if they raised the fees the AHA could hire an extra staffer or two to help Janice out.....thus helping all of us out!!
If look into it, I think Gordon was between jobs in 2009 (after the meltdown) and used an unemployent check for his entries.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AleForce on March 01, 2013, 01:28:27 PM
TL;DR: Get rid of the current competition system. Replace it with two separate comps, one which is judging/feedback ONLY (no winning awards) and another which is ONLY awards, but with no categories. BOS-type stuff.

Sounds like you might be due for a local brewclub meeting.... I doubt many people would invest any time to submit a beer or participate in that idea. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 01, 2013, 01:57:06 PM
TL;DR: Get rid of the current competition system. Replace it with two separate comps, one which is judging/feedback ONLY (no winning awards) and another which is ONLY awards, but with no categories. BOS-type stuff.

Sounds like you might be due for a local brewclub meeting.... I doubt many people would invest any time to submit a beer or participate in that idea.

I'm founder & president of the Paris Homebrewers Club, so I attend every meeting. And funny enough, this is exactly the sort of comp structure we use.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 01, 2013, 01:58:03 PM
If anything this thread has me not looking forward to the day that I move back to the US and have to join a club, if they're anything as competitive as the way some people are making them look. What ever happend to RDWHAHB?

...

That would be a pretty good name for the NHC comp: The RDWHAHB Grand Prize. For reals though, guys, I am not a fan of having a vocal minority sucking all the fun out of a hobby. Not saying there aren't problems that need to be corrected, but...
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on March 01, 2013, 02:14:48 PM
this is how you fix the "problem" with this competition

1) BJCP judges that judge the previous years competition get unlimited entry into the next year.  Same with anyone who helped coordinate and helped run with the previous years competition and/or first round judging sites.

2) IF, there is any space left.....other AHA members get one entry per person

Everyone that b****es and doesn't help run the actual competition gets their $28 membership fee back and can feel free to start up their own national competition.  No lame excuses like....."i had to work" or "i'm to far away".....you all sound like a bunch to whining pussies when you complain about the hard work that others do FOR YOU!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 01, 2013, 02:17:38 PM
(http://1-media-cdn.foolz.us/ffuuka/board/wsg/image/1339/13/1339130665071.gif)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AleForce on March 01, 2013, 02:29:40 PM
TL;DR: Get rid of the current competition system. Replace it with two separate comps, one which is judging/feedback ONLY (no winning awards) and another which is ONLY awards, but with no categories. BOS-type stuff.

Sounds like you might be due for a local brewclub meeting.... I doubt many people would invest any time to submit a beer or participate in that idea.

I'm founder & president of the Paris Homebrewers Club, so I attend every meeting. And funny enough, this is exactly the sort of comp structure we use.

Under the homebrew club umbrella that's pretty typical thing to have going on - and hats off to your club for doing that.... Anyone who is/has been in a homebrew club usually grows tired of having their beer judged in that environment and wants something more. Nationally it won't work especially when you consider the costs and time for something like that.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 01, 2013, 02:38:06 PM
TL;DR: Get rid of the current competition system. Replace it with two separate comps, one which is judging/feedback ONLY (no winning awards) and another which is ONLY awards, but with no categories. BOS-type stuff.

Sounds like you might be due for a local brewclub meeting.... I doubt many people would invest any time to submit a beer or participate in that idea.

I'm founder & president of the Paris Homebrewers Club, so I attend every meeting. And funny enough, this is exactly the sort of comp structure we use.

Under the homebrew club umbrella that's pretty typical thing to have going on - and hats off to your club for doing that.... Anyone who is/has been in a homebrew club usually grows tired of having their beer judged in that environment and wants something more. Nationally it won't work especially when you consider the costs and time for something like that.

I dunno - it sounds like, unless I misunderstood, that the real problem is the lack of judges overall. If you drop the BJCP requirement (and the categories), you could have anybody come in who had a reasonable knowledge of beer.

Going even futher I think it might be interesting to even have complete beer noobs do judging, as long as they're open to trying stuff that might be 'different' from what they are used to.

--

Well, hey, if you like technical comps so much, it would also perhaps work to have regionals be 100% bjcp with a 10-entry limit (or something), and then the national comp would be BOS. You could also have the option to skip regionals on the tech level and submit exactly 1 beer into the national BOS competition, that way regionals don't get crowded out with one-submission entries that may or may not be categorized correctly.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on March 01, 2013, 03:03:27 PM
Quote
I'm founder & president of the Paris Homebrewers Club, so I attend every meeting. And funny enough, this is exactly the sort of comp structure we use.

American's don't collaborate very well (look at our government today).

I do think we need to revisit relaxing and having a homebrew.  If we look at even this thread, there are only 20 or so people having this conversation....maybe 1000 more are upset or concerned.

That leaves 30,000 others.  Perhaps they are relaxing, and having a homebrew?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: youknow on March 01, 2013, 03:22:23 PM
I can't find the answer to this question anywhere, may as well ask here... Are we sure that this competition is full? I've been checking back every hour or so, but there hasn't been an official update in 2 days.
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on March 01, 2013, 03:30:49 PM
There are a lot of open spots in some regions but I'm not sure if the website numbers have been updated.  The AHA also said they are shifting some of the oversold region's entries elsewhere.  Some people have commented on the BN forum that they received emails from Gary regarding reassignment, so my guess is they are still working on it.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 01, 2013, 03:35:26 PM
I can't find the answer to this question anywhere, may as well ask here... Are we sure that this competition is full? I've been checking back every hour or so, but there hasn't been an official update in 2 days.

If we trust the numbers shown on the sites for the 11 regions, 7400+ entries are shown in the system.  90% full.  At the rate it was going on Tueday it would have been full within a very short time.  Having more than 8250 entries in the system would have been a disaster, as who do you pick to kick out?  They shut it down and can work on moving entries from overcrowded regions before worrying about filling that last 10%.  I imagine a few will refuse to ship, having planned to drop off at the local comp, and a few additional spaces will open up.  But I would be shocked if there are more than 1000 spots left when re-opened, again assuming the 7400+ number is correct.
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on March 01, 2013, 03:39:13 PM
Update posted on Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151335533118310&id=19834173309

edit:  Here's the text of the posting ( too hard to do from my phone )

NHC Registration Update: The AHA continues to actively troubleshoot the problems associated with this year's National Homebrew Competition (NHC) registration. We are sorry that the progress is not faster; at this point, the AHA is focused on taking the time necessary to get this right rather than rushing through the remediation process. We know those of you with entries are anxious for an update on their status.

Overpayments and other payment issues were among the AHA's priorities to address. As of Friday, March 1, we believe we have resolved most overpayment issues, and are working to resolve the remaining overpayments as soon as possible. If you experienced a payment issue, you should have received a credit (refund) notice from the AHA via our payment processor, or will receive one soon. (Of course, a statement or processing by your financial institution is subject to their policies and practices.)

Another step in the clean-up process has involved updating the competition database to reflect all paid entries as, in fact, paid. This is now complete. This leaves some entries in the system that are still unpaid, whether due to the entrant's selected region being at capacity or due to other issues. As troubleshooting continues, rest assured that all currently registered entries (paid and unpaid) will have an opportunity to be judged in the competition. The AHA will be in touch directly with everyone who registered in the system within the next several business days.

What's next?
Due to the problems with registration, some judge centers mistakenly accepted more entries than the designated limit for judging. The AHA is currently finalizing and executing a plan to reassign entries among the judge centers. As soon as possible, entrants will be contacted directly if their entry(s) needs to be reassigned to an alternate region. This communication will outline the steps to follow to accept and finalize the reassignment.

Once again, please accept the AHA staff's apologies for the failures and frustrations of this year’s registration and payment system.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on March 01, 2013, 05:55:52 PM
I dunno - it sounds like, unless I misunderstood, that the real problem is the lack of judges overall. If you drop the BJCP requirement (and the categories), you could have anybody come in who had a reasonable knowledge of beer.

That's EXACTLY the root of the problem here. Not enough volunteers or judges to keep pace with demand.

Software/server issues are a simple fix. Increasing the amount of entries to keep pace with demand is not. (The way I see it, demand will continue to increase no matter the restrictions you put on entries or fees.)

If we all want to enter this thing, we should all help out. Steward, take the BJCP entrance exam, help in some way other than posting your opinions (while sometimes valid and helpful) to the forum. If we can't decrease demand, we need to increase the available supply. That "supply" is controlled by the amount of help a region can receive.

Is it easy, cheap or always a huge amount of fun to go through the BJCP training, exam(s) and judging throughout your region? Absolutely not.

Can you do it? Hell yeah!

Will you meet a lot of awesome people in the process? I've made friends all over the country through the AHA and BJCP - I bet you can too.

As an aside, dropping the BJCP requirement will not improve the quality of anything. I have stacks upon stacks of score sheets from non-BJCP "Experienced Judges" that say things like Aroma: smoke. Flavor: Smoke. Mouthfeel: Good.  These are things I am not looking for when I pay upwards of $12 an entry plus shipping.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 01, 2013, 06:00:19 PM
If you enter enough competitions you eventually realize that you need to step up to the judging side of the competitions. No competitions without the entrants, the judges/stewards/registrars/organizers.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: rjharper on March 01, 2013, 06:02:20 PM
I dunno - it sounds like, unless I misunderstood, that the real problem is the lack of judges overall. If you drop the BJCP requirement (and the categories), you could have anybody come in who had a reasonable knowledge of beer.

That's EXACTLY the root of the problem here. Not enough volunteers or judges to keep pace with demand.

...

Is it easy, cheap or always a huge amount of fun to go through the BJCP training, exam(s) and judging throughout your region? Absolutely not.

This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on March 01, 2013, 06:09:22 PM
This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
If you are willing to host one, i'll help you set it up  PM me

Fred
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 01, 2013, 06:18:16 PM
This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
If you are willing to host one, i'll help you set it up  PM me

Fred

if I knew I could get an exam by the end of the year I could fill it up within a week IMO.  I'm willing to be a Proctor but the next closest National judge is 165 miles away.  I'm sure I could get someone from KC/Tulsa to make the drive, but I haven't seen the point when 90% of interest in BJCP dies when I tell people the wait period...

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on March 01, 2013, 06:26:04 PM
This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
If you are willing to host one, i'll help you set it up  PM me

Fred

if I knew I could get an exam by the end of the year I could fill it up within a week IMO.  I'm willing to be a Proctor but the next closest National judge is 165 miles away.  I'm sure I could get someone from KC/Tulsa to make the drive, but I haven't seen the point when 90% of interest in BJCP dies when I tell people the wait period...

cheers--
--Michael
I run a series of classes 15-16 approx every other week, 10+ beers per session + tech topics.

All the beers are classic styles and I do 180-200 different brews over the series.
Exam follows the class.

again PM me and i'll help you set it up.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on March 01, 2013, 06:46:07 PM
This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
If you are willing to host one, i'll help you set it up  PM me

Fred

if I knew I could get an exam by the end of the year I could fill it up within a week IMO.  I'm willing to be a Proctor but the next closest National judge is 165 miles away.  I'm sure I could get someone from KC/Tulsa to make the drive, but I haven't seen the point when 90% of interest in BJCP dies when I tell people the wait period...

cheers--
--Michael
Having a second national judge is desired but not required to hold an exam.
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phillamb168 on March 02, 2013, 07:07:20 AM
Quote from: AmandaK
As an aside, dropping the BJCP requirement will not improve the quality of anything. I have stacks upon stacks of score sheets from non-BJCP "Experienced Judges" that say things like Aroma: smoke. Flavor: Smoke. Mouthfeel: Good.  These are things I am not looking for when I pay upwards of $12 an entry plus shipping.

As I said in my previous post, there would be 2 comps, one for technical review and one for enjoyment/pleasure. You would not use the same scoresheet for both.

The overall issue as I see it is not one of quality but of quantity. You need more rear ends in seats, tasting comp entries, you do that by modifying the way comps are done. I'd like to take a moment to remind everyone that just because you're BJCP doesn't mean you're going to be an excellent judge, and just because you don't have BJCP doesn't mean you're going to do a crap job on judging.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on March 02, 2013, 03:24:34 PM
This. But it's also the problem that waiting lists to get into BJCP exams and classes here in OK are measured in years.
If you are willing to host one, i'll help you set it up  PM me

Fred

if I knew I could get an exam by the end of the year I could fill it up within a week IMO.  I'm willing to be a Proctor but the next closest National judge is 165 miles away.  I'm sure I could get someone from KC/Tulsa to make the drive, but I haven't seen the point when 90% of interest in BJCP dies when I tell people the wait period...

cheers--
--Michael

I'll be National by the end of the year and would be willing to help. PM if you want.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on March 03, 2013, 08:34:08 AM
I dunno - it sounds like, unless I misunderstood, that the real problem is the lack of judges overall. If you drop the BJCP requirement (and the categories), you could have anybody come in who had a reasonable knowledge of beer.

That's EXACTLY the root of the problem here. Not enough volunteers or judges to keep pace with demand.

Software/server issues are a simple fix. Increasing the amount of entries to keep pace with demand is not. (The way I see it, demand will continue to increase no matter the restrictions you put on entries or fees.)

If we all want to enter this thing, we should all help out. Steward, take the BJCP entrance exam, help in some way other than posting your opinions (while sometimes valid and helpful) to the forum. If we can't decrease demand, we need to increase the available supply. That "supply" is controlled by the amount of help a region can receive.

Is it easy, cheap or always a huge amount of fun to go through the BJCP training, exam(s) and judging throughout your region? Absolutely not.

Can you do it? Hell yeah!

Will you meet a lot of awesome people in the process? I've made friends all over the country through the AHA and BJCP - I bet you can too.

As an aside, dropping the BJCP requirement will not improve the quality of anything. I have stacks upon stacks of score sheets from non-BJCP "Experienced Judges" that say things like Aroma: smoke. Flavor: Smoke. Mouthfeel: Good.  These are things I am not looking for when I pay upwards of $12 an entry plus shipping.
Very good points!! I have started down the BJCP path, currently a Provisional Judge and have judged in exactly one comp!!  I think the BJCP is a hangup for a lot of would-be judges.  I am scheduled for my tasting in August....3 hours from my house. The BJCP is only attractive to the hardcore homebrewers who are willing to drive hours just to take a test.....and wait six months for the results.  Most comps attract a wide range of brewers with different levels of committment to the hobby. I look at the guys in my club.....most brew once a month if that and it is a hobby....not a lifestyle. Heck our President and BJCP Certified Judge hasn't brewed in over a year. He just can't find the time between work and family committments.  I am interested in the BJCP because it will help me become a better brewer.  I would like to say that once I pass the tasting exam I will judge all the time but that's not reality. The reality is that I will judge if the comp is within an hour of where I live. So that means 2-3x a year....maybe.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: jeffy on March 03, 2013, 02:14:50 PM
FWIW the tasting exam we had in December has been graded and returned already.  Although the waiting list for the exam is pretty long, the grading is coming back faster with the new format.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: thetooth on March 03, 2013, 03:05:57 PM
FWIW the tasting exam we had in December has been graded and returned already.  Although the waiting list for the exam is pretty long, the grading is coming back faster with the new format.

That's great to hear.  It would also be nice to extend the time that the online exam results are good for.  I had to take the exam in order to get on a waitlist for a tasting exam a few hours away from home.  If I don't get into that exam, my results will expire and I'll be forced to start over again.  I don't mind the wait if I don't have to start all over again.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on March 03, 2013, 05:23:47 PM
FWIW the tasting exam we had in December has been graded and returned already.  Although the waiting list for the exam is pretty long, the grading is coming back faster with the new format.

That's great to hear.  It would also be nice to extend the time that the online exam results are good for.  I had to take the exam in order to get on a waitlist for a tasting exam a few hours away from home.  If I don't get into that exam, my results will expire and I'll be forced to start over again.  I don't mind the wait if I don't have to start all over again.
I believe once the exam grading backlog has shrunk, they want to start allowing more exams per month (or more participants per exam). Maybe this is not far away!  :)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on March 03, 2013, 05:39:20 PM
Ask
I understand that the BJCP is allowing leeway on the one year limit 'until things settle out'

Ask,

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I717 using Tapatalk 2

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 03, 2013, 07:12:13 PM
NHC is not about getting feedback about your beers.  If it were, then no one would ever complain about not being able to enter it.  You could always enter ANY homebrew competition for that kind of feedback.

NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.  You can possibly become the next Jamil or Gordon by doing well in NHC.  If you disagree then you are lying to yourself

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.


I was at my computer entering beers exactly on time.  Then the system took a dump.  That is my fault how?   Then the info from AHA was that they were working on it so I waited. It never said "all clear, go ahead and enter".  Then all the sites were booked full.  WTH?

The message that the AHA is still working on it is still up by the way! 

How do you offer a national competition and then refuse entries at some arbitrary cutoff, and still call it a national competition?   If there are too many entries to judge, then something needs to be done about to increase judging capacity or decrease entry numbers.  There shouldn't need to be a hard cutoff,  _that_ is unfair. 

I'm a bjcp National judge and I judged at one of the judge centers a couple years ago.  It took a whole day of my time, we drove hundreds of miles, and was shocked to learn that the AHA only kicks back some very small portion of the entrance fee to the local site.   It wasn't enough to even feed the judges, we had to leave the site to get food! 

How can the AHA expect to get volunteer judging sites for free basically, and end up getting good qualified judge volunteers to provide accurate and fair judging of the first round if the AHA pockets the bulk of the entrance fee and doesn't support the 1st round judging of the beer.

If there's such a craze over this thing, and there's not enough judge sites then that needs to be fixed.  Kick more of the fee to the local 1st round sites so that you'll get more 1st round sites involved, and/or raise the entrance fee to cut back on the number of entrants. 

We do a regional competition in Buffalo / Niagara Falls that judged over 600 entries last year.  We have the judge pool to handle being a first round site for NHC.  We're adding bjcp judges all the time.  Would we ever do it?  Who knows, no one ever asked us.  One thing I know from organizing it for three years now, you can't do it for $2 or $3 an entry.  You can't even feed your judges a bologne sandwich for that.

So who cares about it?  Based on that, I'd say not the AHA.


Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 03, 2013, 07:53:27 PM
from the rule changes:

6. Entry fee increase of an additional $2 per entry. The additional revenue generated from this fee increase will fund enhancements to support first round judge centers that are intended improve the judging experience.

*****

Complaining about things from past years isn't really fair.  The AHA listened, and changes have been made.  I would suggest that those talking about things like First Round sites not being given enough money to feed judges simply wait a couple months and give the changes a chance... 

as for the competition itself, I think people like Tom have covered the difficulties well enough on previous pages and previous threads. 

And if there is a group that thinks they can handle an NHC first round site, I would suggest they go to Janis, not wait for her to come to them.  The FOAM club down in Tulsa did, and now they have a regional.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 02:46:19 AM
Tom, can you set the record straight on this?  What kind of support does a judging center get from the AHA when they host a 1st round site?   

I know the entrance fees go straight to the AHA, but how much makes it's way down to the organizer to rent the hall, feed the judges, print the scoresheets, buy the cups, and all the other expenses that go along with running a decent competition?

A first round organizer here in NY told me a number and I couldn't believe it.  It was like $3 out of the total entry fee.   Is that true? 

How in the world could anyone run a competition on that amount?  We do a 600 plus entry competition in Buffalo, NY and we break even at somewhere between $5 and 7 dollars per entry. 

I don't think it's a matter of organizers getting 'burned out' as you say.  It's more a matter of questioning the idea that the AHA thinks you can run a competition and get decent judges to volunteer their time and skills without so much as feeding them a decent lunch! 

I've also been warned that _every_expense has to be reimbursed from the AHA, they won't pay any of the costs up front even if they are identified well in advance such as the hall rental, cups, and food.  And often the reimbursements are denied.   I guess that would 'burn' me out in a hurry too, if I were to volunteer to organize a competition, and then end up eating the cost of running the thing!

So what's the actual number?  Am I totally off the mark here?

Todd Snyder
Buffalo, NY
BJCP National Judge E0546



PS seriously, how is Chicago not an entry location?
Seriously, there was not a volunteer to organize it.  The same goes for Portland OR, the previous organizer declined and the Oregon Brew Crew was contacted and asked to host a site and they did not respond.

There were 11 judging centers available (because of 2nd round constraints) and various places were contacted to see if they were interested in hosting.  The first 11 to say yes got them.  It's not like the AHA assigns judging centers based on where the brewers are, it is where the organizers and judges are.  No organizer = no judging center.

It is a ton of work to run a judging center and people get burned out and don't want to do it year after year.  That is totally understandable, and we shouldn't put too much pressure on these valuable volunteers.  If you want to run a judging center then talk to Janis - starting in July.  If you want your city to host a judging center year in and year out, I'd suggest you get a small crew of volunteers and rotate the organizer so they can train others and maintain the desire to do it.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 02:52:21 AM
Michael,

So what is the amount per entry that is kicked down to the first round site?

Todd



from the rule changes:

6. Entry fee increase of an additional $2 per entry. The additional revenue generated from this fee increase will fund enhancements to support first round judge centers that are intended improve the judging experience.

*****

Complaining about things from past years isn't really fair.  The AHA listened, and changes have been made.  I would suggest that those talking about things like First Round sites not being given enough money to feed judges simply wait a couple months and give the changes a chance... 

as for the competition itself, I think people like Tom have covered the difficulties well enough on previous pages and previous threads. 

And if there is a group that thinks they can handle an NHC first round site, I would suggest they go to Janis, not wait for her to come to them.  The FOAM club down in Tulsa did, and now they have a regional.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Hokerer on March 04, 2013, 04:08:03 AM
Michael,

So what is the amount per entry that is kicked down to the first round site?

Todd

According to this earlier post, the total is $2500, you do the math...

2) The AHA has approve us for something on the order of $2500 - how is this not enough to run a competition with food? I guess we'll find out, but our preliminary budget shows us with enough money for a fully catered Friday dinner, hot breakfast Saturday and hot lunch on Saturday.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on March 04, 2013, 06:44:25 AM
Tom, can you set the record straight on this?  What kind of support does a judging center get from the AHA when they host a 1st round site?   
This is a question better answered by Janis, I don't know for sure.  When I organized the first round in the past, we got plenty of money to host and provide food for the judges.  It was tight, we weren't eating sushi or Dungeness crab, but we never had to spend any money out of pocket.  The AHA also ships cups to the site, so there is no cost there (although we invested in glassware years ago so we don't need the cups).  So either the numbers changed after my time or something else happened.

Also, the regional judging centers don't need to worry about prizes, so there is no cost there.  The fees from the entries in the NHC also have to pay for the second round of judging, and part of Janis's salary.  It's not like the AHA is really pocketing a chunk of the entry fee, the money is spent on supporting and running the competition.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on March 04, 2013, 01:00:31 PM
Michael,

So what is the amount per entry that is kicked down to the first round site?

Todd

According to this earlier post, the total is $2500, you do the math...

2) The AHA has approve us for something on the order of $2500 - how is this not enough to run a competition with food? I guess we'll find out, but our preliminary budget shows us with enough money for a fully catered Friday dinner, hot breakfast Saturday and hot lunch on Saturday.

I was slightly off in my memory, it's $2360. I was $140 high.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 01:38:59 PM
Amanda,

To judge how many entries?

How much was out of pocket that you had to be reimbursed from AHA?  How happy were you with the reimbursement process?

Did you have to ship back the scoresheets or did the AHA handle that?

If it were 750 entries, and you didn't have to handle the shipping costs out of that then yes someone should be able to do it for that amount.  The problem seems to be getting enough judge sites volunteering for the task.  I know that after judging our local competition, the last thing I want to do is sit down and judge another huge competition.

One of the reasons that we're able to get our competition judged is because our own beer is in there, our friends' beer is in there, and a lot of potentially new club members' beers are in there.   So the motivation is there to put on a well run competition and provide good feedback for our friends, ourselves and the local homebrewing community. 

But to host an NHC 1st round site, in which none of us could get our beers entered, for brewers that aren't in our local area, after judging our own local competition, for $3 an entry.....?  That's a tough sell and I, for one, wouldn't take that proposition to my club. 

The AHA would have to provide some form of motivation for taking on the task of being a 1st round judge site.  One cost free and logical incentive would be to allow judges the opportunity to get their beers into the NHC. Judge or steward three flights one year and you get to enter beer in the next year during an early registration period.  Not only would this motivate the existing judge, it would motivate more brewers to become judges; and the lack of willing judges and judging sites seems to be the bottleneck in the NHC.

Good judge 'thank you' gifts are also appreciated by judges, and if provided by the AHA they would benefit from their scale.  For example, for us to order growler coozies as judge gifts, it's several dollars each b/c we're only ordering a few dozen.  For the AHA, if they ordered a few thousand, the cost would be much less. 

Judge swag wouldn't do it alone though.  For a club to take on the duties of judging a NHC 1st round, their beer would have to be in the competition.

Tom, thanks for the cool headed reply, it's much appreciated. 



Michael,

So what is the amount per entry that is kicked down to the first round site?

Todd

According to this earlier post, the total is $2500, you do the math...

2) The AHA has approve us for something on the order of $2500 - how is this not enough to run a competition with food? I guess we'll find out, but our preliminary budget shows us with enough money for a fully catered Friday dinner, hot breakfast Saturday and hot lunch on Saturday.

I was slightly off in my memory, it's $2360. I was $140 high.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 04, 2013, 01:44:43 PM

I was at my computer entering beers exactly on time.  Then the system took a dump.  That is my fault how?   Then the info from AHA was that they were working on it so I waited. It never said "all clear, go ahead and enter". Then all the sites were booked full.  WTH?


I still do not think this is correct.  Ohio, NY, and SD had 400+ excess entries, but it appears they have been moved to Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Seattle.  Now there are only 4 regions with a total of 30 excess entries.  5 regions, ranging from Seattle with 60 to Tulsa with 356, are still shown as having spots available.  Total spots available, again if you believe the web site, went up by about 180, to 1010.  Not everone will choose to ship when they planned to drop off at the local region.

There are already 31% more people registered than last year.  If the numbers are correct, and if when reopened the current average of 3.18 entries per person holds, we'll end up with about 49% more people entered in this competition than ever before.  For a competition that is growing by about 5% entries, that is pretty damn good.

I'd like to see something from the AHA confirming that yes, there are spots still available and when they finish sorting out the events of last week they will re-open this competition...

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 04, 2013, 01:47:47 PM
just fyi, and I apologize for speaking for Amanda, but she is talking about the budget for THIS year. 

my original point is that it appears the budget is bigger than in previous years...
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: oldgrumps on March 04, 2013, 02:15:42 PM
I think those are good suggestions for better managing the process.

However, it may be time to create a tiered competition structure where you have to qualify to enter the NHC.

That way if you are looking for just feedback, you use a local competition, working your way up to "fame" at the NHC.

That way, there would be less collisions at the NHC level. Most competitive events have this type of structure.

For instance, not everyone can enter the olympics directly, if they are fast on their ipad. Although, if they did the Olympics would be a whole lot more fun to watch.

Good luck to those that made it in.
Bob

I would agree that you should have to qualify at certain event (s) to qualify for this competition, just as you do for MCAB. This would set the entry limit by use of designated competitions, and would further add to the quality of the brews entered. I haven't read the entire string of posts, so sorry if I am being redundant here.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on March 04, 2013, 02:25:28 PM


One of the reasons that we're able to get our competition judged is because our own beer is in there, our friends' beer is in there, and a lot of potentially new club members' beers are in there.   So the motivation is there to put on a well run competition and provide good feedback for our friends, ourselves and the local homebrewing community. 

But to host an NHC 1st round site, in which none of us could get our beers entered, for brewers that aren't in our local area, after judging our own local competition, for $3 an entry.....?  That's a tough sell and I, for one, wouldn't take that proposition to my club. 

The AHA would have to provide some form of motivation for taking on the task of being a 1st round judge site.  One cost free and logical incentive would be to allow judges the opportunity to get their beers into the NHC. Judge or steward three flights one year and you get to enter beer in the next year during an early registration period.  Not only would this motivate the existing judge, it would motivate more brewers to become judges; and the lack of willing judges and judging sites seems to be the bottleneck in the NHC.

Good judge 'thank you' gifts are also appreciated by judges, and if provided by the AHA they would benefit from their scale.  For example, for us to order growler coozies as judge gifts, it's several dollars each b/c we're only ordering a few dozen.  For the AHA, if they ordered a few thousand, the cost would be much less. 

Judge swag wouldn't do it alone though.  For a club to take on the duties of judging a NHC 1st round, their beer would have to be in the competition.



Good points here...that's why I think that judges should get a priority in entering the competition.  But then there is a chance that the competition becomes a competition of judges.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 04, 2013, 02:37:30 PM
For the folks that want an NHC qualifier round.

Do you want this for the beer or the brewer?

The beer will get different scores depending on the competition. I pointed that out earlier.

The brewer could strike out in an earlier competition, and then do well at the NHC, depending on the above variation. There is also the age of the beer, as some styles will mature, and be at the peak later on.

Or do you want to rate the brewer over many qualifiers? I know a guy who got Midwest Brewer of the year, and he said he probably spent $2000 in entry fees and shipping that year to get that honor. I am not going to do even a fraction of that to qualify for the NHC.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 02:47:35 PM
Amanda's number from this year is only $3 per entry?!  My point is two years ago the number was $2 or 3 dollars IIRC.  So it's still the same amount. 

$2300 to judge 750+ beers.  Do-able?  Yes.   Do-able and have happy judges and organizers willing to do it year after year, probably not.  Especially if the ones doing the bulk of the work are unable to get their own entries in.

just fyi, and I apologize for speaking for Amanda, but she is talking about the budget for THIS year. 

my original point is that it appears the budget is bigger than in previous years...
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Hokerer on March 04, 2013, 03:59:29 PM
For the folks that want an NHC qualifier round.

Do you want this for the beer or the brewer?

The beer will get different scores depending on the competition. I pointed that out earlier.

The brewer could strike out in an earlier competition, and then do well at the NHC, depending on the above variation. There is also the age of the beer, as some styles will mature, and be at the peak later on.

Or do you want to rate the brewer over many qualifiers? I know a guy who got Midwest Brewer of the year, and he said he probably spent $2000 in entry fees and shipping that year to get that honor. I am not going to do even a fraction of that to qualify for the NHC.

Just like the current 2-round NHC, a 3-round NHC (qualifiers) would be about the beer, not the brewer.  And all the issues you mention above already apply to 2 rounds.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 04:31:06 PM
I disagree.  You need the judges to be dedicated to the competition in order to have a large enough judge pool.  Right now, there is little incentive besides 'taking one for the team'. 

As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?

If the judges had the proper incentives, you could hold the competition without artificially imposed limits on entry numbers.  If you had the proper incentives, you'd get more brewers becoming judges. 

The bjcp has an excellent system for people to become judges, and if there were a reward for becoming a judge, such as an early entry period for the NHC, then you'd get more judges vested in the NHC and you could run an unlimited entry competition.  That would truly be a National Homebrew Competition, instead of a "Lucky Enough to get an Entry In Competition"




  But then there is a chance that the competition becomes a competition of judges.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on March 04, 2013, 04:41:13 PM
Amanda,

To judge how many entries?

How much was out of pocket that you had to be reimbursed from AHA?  How happy were you with the reimbursement process?

Did you have to ship back the scoresheets or did the AHA handle that?

I'll get back to you in a month - this is my first time working with the AHA system. I've judged in the final round, but that involved much less paperwork.  ;D

If it were 750 entries, and you didn't have to handle the shipping costs out of that then yes someone should be able to do it for that amount.  The problem seems to be getting enough judge sites volunteering for the task.  I know that after judging our local competition, the last thing I want to do is sit down and judge another huge competition. 

I really like doing comps, so this isn't really an issue for me. I love meeting brewers from all over - and it's definity made me a better brewer because of it. Hell, I'll probably do 6-7 this year if wedding planning doesn't get in the way.

But to host an NHC 1st round site, in which none of us could get our beers entered, for brewers that aren't in our local area, after judging our own local competition, for $3 an entry.....?  That's a tough sell and I, for one, wouldn't take that proposition to my club. 

The AHA would have to provide some form of motivation for taking on the task of being a 1st round judge site.  One cost free and logical incentive would be to allow judges the opportunity to get their beers into the NHC. Judge or steward three flights one year and you get to enter beer in the next year during an early registration period.  Not only would this motivate the existing judge, it would motivate more brewers to become judges; and the lack of willing judges and judging sites seems to be the bottleneck in the NHC.

Good judge 'thank you' gifts are also appreciated by judges, and if provided by the AHA they would benefit from their scale.  For example, for us to order growler coozies as judge gifts, it's several dollars each b/c we're only ordering a few dozen.  For the AHA, if they ordered a few thousand, the cost would be much less. 

All clubs are different, but I know that my club is excited to be able to host a first round site. (And trust me, if I get any more beer related swag, my apartment might just explode! Hahaha.)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on March 04, 2013, 04:47:49 PM
Right now, there is little incentive besides 'taking one for the team'. 

As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?

Perhaps my club is an anomaly, but we have a handful of members who don't brew that much, don't enter in comps but still come out to every competition to volunteer.

Now that I'm thinking about it, we have one guy who brews every weekend but doesn't even drink... maybe we ARE the weird ones.  ;D
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: repo on March 04, 2013, 04:48:25 PM
It is impossible to have a truly "National" competition when it is illegal for residents from several states to participate. As was said everyone wanting to enter must be able to at some level.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 04, 2013, 05:04:49 PM
just last year I drove 180 miles to KC, 180 to Tulsa, 500 (twice) to Denver/Fort Collins, and even 800 miles to Milwaukee to judge.  Dallas, 5 hour drive? - I've done it.  Brewers Cup in Indy, 700 miles? - I've done it.  And of course, I've still got to drive home, pay for hotels, etc.

Some people like to judge.  Very rarely to I have my own beer in said comp. 
"proper incentive" varies from person to person, wouldn't you say?

As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?

If the judges had the proper incentives, you could hold the competition without artificially imposed limits on entry numbers.  If you had the proper incentives, you'd get more brewers becoming judges. 
 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 04, 2013, 05:37:36 PM
For the folks that want an NHC qualifier round.

Do you want this for the beer or the brewer?

The beer will get different scores depending on the competition. I pointed that out earlier.

The brewer could strike out in an earlier competition, and then do well at the NHC, depending on the above variation. There is also the age of the beer, as some styles will mature, and be at the peak later on.

Or do you want to rate the brewer over many qualifiers? I know a guy who got Midwest Brewer of the year, and he said he probably spent $2000 in entry fees and shipping that year to get that honor. I am not going to do even a fraction of that to qualify for the NHC.

Just like the current 2-round NHC, a 3-round NHC (qualifiers) would be about the beer, not the brewer.  And all the issues you mention above already apply to 2 rounds.
I agree with you, but the MCAB type statements do not fit in. If one entry fee fits all rounds, I am in.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 06:49:40 PM
If there were more judges like you there wouldn't be this problem.  But there aren't,  and there is.

Maybe the incentive isn't an early entry period for the judges.  Maybe it's not good judge gifts, good food, and timely assignment of judge experience points.  Who knows what the answer is?  Whatever it is, it is lacking at this time if the demand for judging far exceeds the supply of willing judges.

For me, I would feel more compelled to help judge the NHC if I were able to have gotten my entries into it.  Because I couldn't due to the entry SNAFU and the cap, there is no way I'm going out of my way to judge it.  I don't believe I'm the only one.


just last year I drove 180 miles to KC, 180 to Tulsa, 500 (twice) to Denver/Fort Collins, and even 800 miles to Milwaukee to judge.  Dallas, 5 hour drive? - I've done it.  Brewers Cup in Indy, 700 miles? - I've done it.  And of course, I've still got to drive home, pay for hotels, etc.

Some people like to judge.  Very rarely to I have my own beer in said comp. 
"proper incentive" varies from person to person, wouldn't you say?

As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?

If the judges had the proper incentives, you could hold the competition without artificially imposed limits on entry numbers.  If you had the proper incentives, you'd get more brewers becoming judges. 
 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 04, 2013, 06:52:18 PM
Last year I judged Indianapolis and the wife worked as a steward.

This year life has gotten in the way (elder care issues), and we will not be able to go to Zanesville, which is about an hour closer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on March 04, 2013, 07:25:21 PM
As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?
I'm not sure why someone who felt this way would become a judge at all.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on March 04, 2013, 08:08:15 PM
As a judge, why would anyone voluntarily give up a whole Saturday and/or Sunday, potentially drive a couple hundred miles, to judge a bunch of beers when he or she couldn't get their entries in before the cap kicked in?
I'm not sure why someone who felt this way would become a judge at all.

+ a billionty and eleven!  If you need quid pro quo to judge, maybe you should consider why you;re doing it.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bonjour on March 04, 2013, 09:16:03 PM
+ a billionty and twelve!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 04, 2013, 09:37:35 PM
I'm a judge to be a better brewer, and to support the local homebrew community.  I've helped dozens of brewers become judges by administering bjcp exams in Buffalo, NY.  We have something like 6 National ranked judges in our club and dozens of Certified and Recognized.  I have driven hundreds of miles to judge beer, and I probably will again.  And it wasn't quid pro quo, I've always judged _Way_ more beer than I've ever entered.

If you guys don't see a problem with the way the NHC is operating right now, and that it's clearly caused by a lack of willing judges and site organizers, then I'm not sure what planet you're on.  The AHA planet I guess, when you're on the inside the party is great.  Hope your 15 entries do well!




+ a billionty and twelve!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: a10t2 on March 04, 2013, 10:01:54 PM
If you guys don't see a problem with the way the NHC is operating right now, and that it's clearly caused by a lack of willing judges and site organizers, then I'm not sure what planet you're on.

I think everyone is just taking that as a given. Obviously increasing the number of judges can only help. But even if there were a thousand new BJCP judges available tomorrow, the constraints on the NHC would be the same. As it stands the there will almost certainly be 924 entries. That means that if you limit judges to three flights of 12 beers, you still only need 77 judges for the second round. That's pretty hard up against the number of cats you can successfully herd throughout a single day. Increasing the number of first-round sites allows for more entries, but doesn't address the logistical nightmare that is the second round judging.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hamiltont on March 04, 2013, 10:02:38 PM
Maybe it's been discussed/mentioned before and I apologize if it has.  Couldn't we start a lottery system a month or two before the 1st round. Entrants would initially enter their beers into the Lottery System. Those who are randomly selected are given say a week to  pay for their entries. After a week the unpaid are dropped and more are randomly selected to take their place. It would need to be done at the regional level due to a brewer possibly having more than one entry. Cheers!!!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 05, 2013, 03:07:32 PM
If you guys don't see a problem with the way the NHC is operating right now, and that it's clearly caused by a lack of willing judges and site organizers, then I'm not sure what planet you're on.

I think everyone is just taking that as a given. Obviously increasing the number of judges can only help. But even if there were a thousand new BJCP judges available tomorrow, the constraints on the NHC would be the same. As it stands the there will almost certainly be 924 entries. That means that if you limit judges to three flights of 12 beers, you still only need 77 judges for the second round. That's pretty hard up against the number of cats you can successfully herd throughout a single day. Increasing the number of first-round sites allows for more entries, but doesn't address the logistical nightmare that is the second round judging.

Oh really, _that's_ the bottleneck?

I judged NHC in Oakland, CA a few years ago and didn't really try to figure out the overall process.  I was told where to sit, and then we ranked a few beers and were done.  My judging partner, who I assumed was a high ranking bjcp judge, turned out to be an Apprentice/Novice or Recognized Judge that spent his spare time outside the building smoking cigarettes.  Nice guy, but I'm not sure why he was judging the NHC.  But that's another matter.

If the second round is the bottleneck b/c they're judging almost 1000 entries, then the solution is to not re-judge all the 1st, 2nd and 3rds.  You have to trust your judge centers to rank the entries in order of best (1st) on down for the top three.  Are they actually throwing out the work done by the 1st round judge centers?   Why would that effort be discarded?   

If you trust the Round 1 judge sites, then you're only judging around 300 entries using 28 BOS-style tables.

The solution is simple.  It's a BOS style competition .  Let's say you're judging Dry Stout.  You set the 11 1st place entries from the 11 Round 1 judge centers out on the table and pour them for a table of 4 well qualified judges.  That's almost a 3 oz sample per judge which is plenty.  Out of those 11, they pick the one that best represents the style.  That is first place overall, 1st BOS Dry Stout.   The 2nd place beer from the same Round 1 judging center is then moved up onto the table b/c there is a chance that it might be the next best dry stout at the competition.  It is poured and tasted against the other 10.  Of those 11, the best one is chosen and it is the 2nd BOS Dry Stout.   Which ever one is chosen as 2nd BOS, you move the beer that was sent underneath it from the same Round 1 judge site up onto the table to make it 11 on the table again.   Then you choose the best one from those 11.   That's 3rd BOS Dry Stout. 

You might find that the top 3 came from the same judge center.  You might find that the top 3 came from all different judge centers, or any combination.  But the root idea is, you don't re-judge all the beers.  You have to trust the Round 1 judging centers to put them in the right order.

This way you could have a BOS style 2nd round for 11 judging centers, up to 30.  11 would be a piece of cake.  I've been on BOS's with 30 beers on the table.  It can be done.  Then you could have 30 Round 1 judge centers.

The argument might be that because of the length of time between the 1st and 2nd round, someone's 2nd or 3rd from Round 1 might age better and end up actually being better for Round 2.  My counter to that is, well what about 4th place, and 5th place?  Maybe they'll be better for Round 2 too, why don't they make it on the Round 2 table.   The beer that wins will have to be the best beer on the table TWICE; Round 1 and Round 2.  THAT beer deserves the BOS. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 05, 2013, 04:08:05 PM
interesting concept. 
Many including me have suggested that only first and second or only first place First Round beers advance to the Final Round, and your idea does avoid the problem of 2nd/3rd best in a region also being 2nd/3rd best in Final Round and missing out.
What I think would happen is few silver first round medalists would bother to ship their entries to the second round knowing there was only a 9% chance their beer would even be opened, and couldn't get higher than Silver.  Bronze would be even more sparsely represented.

But I do not see a way around it.  The interest in the first round competition is larger than we can accomodate (does anyone doubt that if we can fill 11 regions in an hour or so that we could easily fill twice that?), and with a Conference that sells out in 24 hours only so many judges can make it there.  Maybe we get hundreds of new high ranked judges but the problem now is access more than willingness to help IMO.

Personally I'd drop the limit to 10 entries, have site pre-registration before entry registration, let volunteers from the previous year register a day early, raise the number of first round regions to whatever Janis can support and retain sanity, and only allow gold medal First Round beers to advance.  Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year.  I'd like to have a way to reward the current year's volunteers with access but we'd have the problem of someone not showing up to judging and having some ugly penalty system.

I'd also consider a pre-registration day where every AHA member had a shot at entering one beer...if the competition fills up before everyone has a chance, too bad.  If not, the following day it opens to everyone to enter more beers and to non-members.

Incidently tmsnyder, did you get registered into the system a week ago?  I know you didn't get beers in.  I keep hearing of e-mails to those that registered but were caught in the gridlock being allowed to fill up the remainder of the competition spots.  Just curious.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on March 05, 2013, 04:25:00 PM
Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year. 
Isn't it conceivable (Wallace Shawn voice inserted) that a silver and bronze in one region could be a better beer than all the golds in the other regions? 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 05, 2013, 04:37:37 PM
Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year. 
Isn't conceivable (Wallace Shawn voice inserted) that a silver and bronze in one region could be a better beer than all the golds in the other regions?

absolutely, and it has happened, but we have to cut it off somewhere.  I don't think anyone wants three rounds, and we have desire to grow the first round beyond 8250 and a limit on how big the Final Round can be.  Something has to give.  As stated elsewhere who is to say that 4th place is not the best in the Final Round?  If we have twice as many first round regions and invite G/S/B from each, we still have to organize twice as many Final Round entries as now.  We have to treat them as if the bottles would be opened, but with tmsnyder's suggestion we wouldn't open the majority of entries.  It's a lot of work for beer that isn't going to leave the box.  On the plus side of his suggestion only Gold would have to send in more than 1 bottle, and no one more than two, to the Final Round.
Obviously if there were a perfect solution it would have already been suggested.   :-\ 

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on March 05, 2013, 04:37:40 PM
how much money would the AHA save by NOT printing out those certificates for first round beers that get some score above 20? 

btw, I throw those things in the garbage before i even read the scoresheets.



In fact, don't even send out ribbons to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. 

Use that money to promote the well being of the first round judging.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on March 05, 2013, 04:44:12 PM
how much money would the AHA save by NOT printing out those certificates for first round beers that get some score above 20? 

btw, I throw those things in the garbage before i even read the scoresheets.



In fact, don't even send out ribbons to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. 

Use that money to promote the well being of the first round judging.

Now this I can agree with.  I save my certificates, but definitely don't need them.  Or send them out in email format ( automatically generated from the database to a template ).
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 05, 2013, 04:44:59 PM
Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year. 
Isn't it conceivable (Wallace Shawn voice inserted) that a silver and bronze in one region could be a better beer than all the golds in the other regions?

Yes, look at the mead categories last year, the St. Paul club cleaned up, I assume those were from the same judging center.

Jeff Carlson swept one of the cider categories one year not so long ago.

I know one guy who won gold with a first round 2nd, and another that won gold with a first round third.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tschmidlin on March 05, 2013, 04:52:18 PM
 
Thanks for this, it is a novel proposal.  I've added it to the list of things for the committee to consider for next year's competition.

Although often the judging at the first round sites is not where it needs to be, so trusting that the first round site got them in the right order is not a given.  I've seen some pretty bad judging sheets from first round sites, sheets with fewer than 20 words written on them.  And in the words of one former Ninkasi winner "I've personally seen how unrelated these rankings seem to be from round to round."

I also want to point out that as soon as you clear one bottleneck another appears - there are a limited number of first round sites that can handle 750 entries, I doubt we can get to 20 let alone 30.  Still, it is a constructive suggestion we will discuss.  Thanks.

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 05, 2013, 05:00:22 PM
yeah, scratch some of what I said.

Just looking briefly at a few categories for 2012:
Gold medal Cat 24 was Silver in its First Round region.
St Paul swept Cat 26; those guys are awesome and it wouldn't really be fair for Steve Fletty to have gone home without the Silver and Bronze medals.
The eventual Gold and Silver medals in Cat 3 were Silver and Bronze in the first round.

there are many other examples.  It is clear that the first round is more about access than accolades.  I hope NHC judges are really sure of those decisions on 3rd/4th place in the first round...

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on March 05, 2013, 05:00:38 PM
Maybe it is also time to split out Mead and Cider to their own Nationals (their second round could still be at the conference) as they have their own qualified judges (and folks that are qualified to judge both mead/cider and beer could judge at both if they wanted instead of having to choose).

I mean no disrespect to mead/cider, if they were at a different time I might want to steward to learn more about them....as I am barely qualified to open these beverages let alone taste one.  they are just specialized catagories.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on March 05, 2013, 05:43:19 PM
That means that if you limit judges to three flights of 12 beers, you still only need 77 judges for the second round.

Wouldn't that be 231 judges, since you need 3 per flight?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on March 05, 2013, 06:14:19 PM
few more stats from last year:

Only categories swept by first round gold winners were Fruit Beer and S/H/V.  Maybe Cat 18 too but the first round page for Chicago is broken so can't check.

Multiple categories had no Gold Medal first round winners.  Both Stout and American Ale were swept by beers judged as the second best in the first round.  Cat 3 finished S,B,B and Cat 5 finished B,S,B.

of the 27 categories I can see, 13 categories were won by first round gold winners, 9 by silvers, and 5 were won by bronze winners. 

of 84 Final Round medals, the total winning first round gold appears to be in the low 30's.

...I cannot come to any conclusion other than that we need to try keep allowing the top 3 to advance.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: phunhog on March 05, 2013, 06:27:04 PM
It is my understanding that the NHC competition is a revenue neutral program for the AHA. In other words.....they don't make any money on it. All proceeds go to pay Janis' salary and other competition related expenses. If the entry fees went up I could see several positive effects. First off the AHA could lower the annual membership dues, thus bringing in more new members. This will increase the presence of the AHA and help in its' lobbying efforts (this should be the number one goal of the AHA IMO).  The additional money raised could also be used to hire some more staff to help run the NHC comp and maybe kickdown some additional money to the judging sites. Sweeten the pot if you will.  It just seems a shame for the AHA to be sitting on a goldmine of potential revenue that could be used to strengthen OUR membership and not take advantage of it. Essentially use the NHC comp as a fundraiser for the AHA!!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: darwin18 on March 05, 2013, 08:42:07 PM
Here's my 2 cents regarding the NHC 2013 competition:

Solutions people seem to be putting forward include:

1) Restrict entries to AHA members or give AHA members preferential treatment for entry submittal.

My thoughts regrading this is that this competition is the "National Homebrew Competition" not the "Annual American Homebrewer's Association Competition".  If you want to restrict it to AHA members or even give AHA members preference, you should probably rename the competition to reflect that.

2) Jack up entry prices to reduce entry submittals.

You could make an entry extremely cost prohibitive such as setting at $100 an entry, and people still pay to send in 15 entries.  At what point also does this competition become a rich man/woman's game?  The $17 price tag for non-AHA members is already higher than I believe any other BJCP competition.  My expectation is that for a $17 fee, my score sheets are going to be well filled out and have positive feedback, and the judges all are going to be BJCP. 

3) Eliminate the need for BJCP judges and let anyone judge.

If people are sending in $17 per entry than they have the right and expectation that their entry is going to be judged by a qualified person.  Currently, the accepted definition of a qualified judge for homebrew competitions is someone in the BJCP program.  Further, the BJCP has high standards for their judges, their score sheets, and their competitions. 

4) Make the competition even bigger by adding more entry sites.

The problem with this, is that the hobby is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds every year.  The demand to enter this competition is way higher right now than the capacity to organize, run, and judge it.  Organizing and running a competition is a great deal of work.  Remember that these people are volunteers doing what they can to help a hobby they love. 

My opinion:

The NHC is considered by many homebrewers to be THE competition.  The awards and recognition that go along with this competition are well known and desired.  If the AHA wants a competition that determines a National Homebrewer of the Year, then I think the competition needs to change as follows:

Make the NHC competition a qualification event.  What that means is that you need your entry or entries to qualify for the NHC first round for you to enter them.  I would recommend that you could make qualification to the NHC as easy as having beers that place 1, 2, 3 in a BJCP-competition with a minimum average score (let's say 35).  Beers that meet this criteria earn "a ticket" to the NHC first round.  The goal of the first round of NHC would be judge these beers, and then send the winners onto the second round as it is currently set up.

I believe this is the really only viable for the competition to remain relevant facing the current and future demand.  The current format we experienced last week was a total crap shoot.  If you have a good internet connection, picked the right regional location, and had a great deal of luck and persistence you may have registered the 15 beer limit.  I suspect most people only got 4 - 5 in, if they were lucky.

The current competition format is set up for volume rather than quality.  If this is truly the prestigious competition that many consider it to be, then the goal should be quality over quantity.  Let the beers get vetted and judged, and the pool of entries reduced before you even get to round 1 of NHC.  Would this require coordination with the BJCP, competitions, and the AHA - absolutely.  Is it a great deal of work?  I don't really think so.  The BJCP is already tracking these competitions to award steward and judging points - the AHA could certainly peruse the results page and update their tracker accordingly. 

I do know one thing, the crap shoot we all went through last week is something I want to avoid going through again. 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: redbeerman on March 05, 2013, 09:00:55 PM
You make good points, D18.  I think having qualifiers turns the NHC into another MCAB and if that's what it needs to be I think a lot of people won't bother with it any more and the demand will shrink.  But, even though I was able to get a few entries in this year, I am rethinking going through what I went through this year again in the future.  It was quite a mess and I am sure there are some great beers that will be missed, but there will be many that will be less than wonderful that made it in as well as happens in most comps (at least the one's I've judged in ;)).
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AleForce on March 05, 2013, 09:27:40 PM
Although I was able to register one entry this year before things were halted,  I'd take that process over what darwin18 just suggested.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: jeffjm on March 05, 2013, 09:28:26 PM

The solution is simple.  It's a BOS style competition .  Let's say you're judging Dry Stout.  You set the 11 1st place entries from the 11 Round 1 judge centers out on the table and pour them for a table of 4 well qualified judges.  That's almost a 3 oz sample per judge which is plenty.  Out of those 11, they pick the one that best represents the style.  That is first place overall, 1st BOS Dry Stout.   The 2nd place beer from the same Round 1 judging center is then moved up onto the table b/c there is a chance that it might be the next best dry stout at the competition.  It is poured and tasted against the other 10.  Of those 11, the best one is chosen and it is the 2nd BOS Dry Stout.   Which ever one is chosen as 2nd BOS, you move the beer that was sent underneath it from the same Round 1 judge site up onto the table to make it 11 on the table again.   Then you choose the best one from those 11.   That's 3rd BOS Dry Stout. 

You might find that the top 3 came from the same judge center.  You might find that the top 3 came from all different judge centers, or any combination.  But the root idea is, you don't re-judge all the beers.  You have to trust the Round 1 judging centers to put them in the right order.

This way you could have a BOS style 2nd round for 11 judging centers, up to 30.  11 would be a piece of cake.  I've been on BOS's with 30 beers on the table.  It can be done.  Then you could have 30 Round 1 judge centers.


This is an interesting idea, but it's a pretty radical change, and we aren't gonna have 30 judging centers in the first round any time soon. Why not take its basic premise - reduce the number of second-round entries judged - and apply it by region? If we only allow first and second place from each region  to advance, we cut the total load on the finals by 1/3, which means we can then add 1/3 more judging centers in the first round. That only gets us up to maybe 14 total judging centers and 10,500 first round entries, but it's a definite capacity improvement. Does anyone think we can have more than 14 judging centers next year?

It also eliminates the problem of potential silver medalists going unopened. There's a possibility of somebody taking 3rd place in a regional not being able to place in the finals with a beer that's aged well, or been re-brewed, or whatever - but we already take that risk with whatever loses out in a mini-BOS in the first round.

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: smoga on March 05, 2013, 10:26:09 PM

Make the NHC competition a qualification event.  What that means is that you need your entry or entries to qualify for the NHC first round for you to enter them.  I would recommend that you could make qualification to the NHC as easy as having beers that place 1, 2, 3 in a BJCP-competition with a minimum average score (let's say 35).  Beers that meet this criteria earn "a ticket" to the NHC first round.  The goal of the first round of NHC would be judge these beers, and then send the winners onto the second round as it is currently set up.

I do know one thing, the crap shoot we all went through last week is something I want to avoid going through again.

I have a real problem with this requirement. Not all of us live in Beervana - some of us live in Beerpuragtory. (aka Utah) There is one and only one local BJCP-competition here per year. So, for me, availability to get a "ticket" rests with a bunch of non certified judges who tasted a beer back in August. Not to mention getting consistant results from non certified beer judges is one of the most frustrating parts of the submitting your beers. I have had beers with 10+ point swings between competitions (in Seattle). I believe this approach is also a crap shoot.  Additionally, the logistics of controlling, verifying, registering and tracking beers & competitions would create a enormous overhead for the AHA. I have and will brew specifically for the NHC.

Allow Pre-Registration. Restrict the number of entries. Up the cost (not dramatically). 1st day AHA members only and only in your local district/judging center.   
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: darwin18 on March 06, 2013, 12:49:38 AM
I have a real problem with this requirement. Not all of us live in Beervana - some of us live in Beerpuragtory. (aka Utah) There is one and only one local BJCP-competition here per year. So, for me, availability to get a "ticket" rests with a bunch of non certified judges who tasted a beer back in August. Not to mention getting consistant results from non certified beer judges is one of the most frustrating parts of the submitting your beers. I have had beers with 10+ point swings between competitions (in Seattle). I believe this approach is also a crap shoot.  Additionally, the logistics of controlling, verifying, registering and tracking beers & competitions would create a enormous overhead for the AHA. I have and will brew specifically for the NHC.

Allow Pre-Registration. Restrict the number of entries. Up the cost (not dramatically). 1st day AHA members only and only in your local district/judging center.

You can't enter out of state competitions?   ;)  I recall entering one in Wyoming a few years ago just because there was nothing else available at the time.  I'm in North Carolina. 

As I said before, if you want to make it the "Annual American Homebrewers Association Competition" then by all means please restrict the entries to AHA members only.  Up the entries to $100 per entry - you'll still have people maxing out entries.  I also don't think it's fair to members in the Northeast to be restricted to a location like New York and fight each other (sounds like last week) to get their entries registered while members in other less populated regions are able to get more entries in. 

As for tracking for a hypothetical qualifier - all you would need is for the competition coordinator to upload the scores and results to a database assessable by the AHA.  The BJCP tracks judging points and steward points, and it's a volunteer organization - I'm sure the AHA could handle this. 

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: gsandel on March 06, 2013, 08:47:17 PM
I wanted to give an update on the "second chance" registration process.  I recieved an e-mail a few days ago saying that since I was able to register but didn't get the chance to enter beers, that I would be eligible for the second chance entry starting today at 1pm (runs until tomorrow or when slots fill).

I didn't have high hopes, because I am at work, was scheduled in a meeting until 1:30pm and didn't have the latest browser (that was needed last time)....but, I am pleased to say that I got entry numbers 386 and 394 (out of 900 or so, I think).  It will fill quickly, it seems.

The system worked smoothly, payment was easy, and I got a nice confirmation from Janis immediately via e-mail.  I entered two beers, representing both my brother and I (both AHA members), cognizant of others wishing to enter too.  We are thankful for the opportunity to compete, and I look forward to helping at the denver site in April (and going to my first NHC in June).

So, whatever you learned AHA/BA, please remember it for GABF later this year.

My only questions left are: 1. I can't tell which region I entered into.  2. I looked for a place to download my bottle labels (or instructions/deadlines for getting my beer in), but didn't see (or didn't understand). 3. What can I expect next?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: garyg on March 06, 2013, 09:10:15 PM
My only questions left are: 1. I can't tell which region I entered into.  2. I looked for a place to download my bottle labels (or instructions/deadlines for getting my beer in), but didn't see (or didn't understand). 3. What can I expect next?

1. We will notify you within the next few business days once your entries have been assign to a judge center
2. You won't be able to download labels until you are assigned to a judge center
3. Once you get the email mentioned in 1, you can access your record, download labels and shipping info.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bobby_m on March 07, 2013, 07:56:13 PM
I understand Darwin18's point about it being the NHC and not the AHAC but let's be really clear here. The competition is run by the AHA so it is their competition afterall. The final round is judged at the conference and the awards are announced at the end. I understand that judge proximity is the main reason why it is coupled with the conference. In any case, AHA is national in scope so a huge competition open their membership is still National in scope. Even if they limited 100% of entries to AHA members, they don't need to rename it.

I do think that priority for initial entry should be given to two groups of people, not necessarily in any preferred order. The first is for those already registered with a conference pass. I could see the first day entry process doing a quick lookup to see if the entrant's AHA number is associated with a conference registration. All that I ask is that if someone is willing to plunk $2K down to attend the conference, they should have ONE shot at an entry. Otherwise, banquet is already a total let down.

Registration could go like this:
-AHA Member? Yes (1) No (2)
-Conference Attendee Yes (A) No (B)
- First Region Preference
-Second Region Preferenc
-How many entries would you like to register (dropdown with any number up to 30) This would just be used for statistics gathering.

Day 1: 1A gets dibs on 1 entry into their 1st pref region
Day 2: 1B gets dibs on 1 entry """"
Day 3: Compare remaining entry spots to individuals who wanted to enter but still have not and determine if a lottery needs to be enacted to fill remaining spots in any region.

Though it sounds quite socialist, I find it much more in the spirit of the purpose of the comp and conference to have more people with single entries than some with 15 or 10 and many with none at all.

Just thinking of my own club, I know of one person who got all 15 entries in. I'm sure that's really lucky but there were a few others who wanted to get 1-3 entries in who never made it. Even in this small pool of people I personally know, I'd much rather each of them got 2-3 in or yes, even just one.

Yes, unfortunately the situation makes Ninkasi way more about entry persistence or luck any absolute brewing prowess. The severe entry caps will negate the Ninkasi but I think it's way more important for people to be psyched about the possibility for ONE medal than a few with their eyes on Ninkasi. It just doesn't work in this system nor any system that can be imagined in the future.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: realbeerguy on March 08, 2013, 02:37:22 AM
I understand Darwin18's point about it being the NHC and not the AHAC but let's be really clear here. The competition is run by the AHA so it is their competition afterall. The final round is judged at the conference and the awards are announced at the end. I understand that judge proximity is the main reason why it is coupled with the conference. In any case, AHA is national in scope so a huge competition open their membership is still National in scope. Even if they limited 100% of entries to AHA members, they don't need to rename it.

I do think that priority for initial entry should be given to two groups of people, not necessarily in any preferred order. The first is for those already registered with a conference pass. I could see the first day entry process doing a quick lookup to see if the entrant's AHA number is associated with a conference registration. All that I ask is that if someone is willing to plunk $2K down to attend the conference, they should have ONE shot at an entry. Otherwise, banquet is already a total let down.

Registration could go like this:
-AHA Member? Yes (1) No (2)
-Conference Attendee Yes (A) No (B)
- First Region Preference
-Second Region Preferenc
-How many entries would you like to register (dropdown with any number up to 30) This would just be used for statistics gathering.

Day 1: 1A gets dibs on 1 entry into their 1st pref region
Day 2: 1B gets dibs on 1 entry """"
Day 3: Compare remaining entry spots to individuals who wanted to enter but still have not and determine if a lottery needs to be enacted to fill remaining spots in any region.

Though it sounds quite socialist, I find it much more in the spirit of the purpose of the comp and conference to have more people with single entries than some with 15 or 10 and many with none at all.

Just thinking of my own club, I know of one person who got all 15 entries in. I'm sure that's really lucky but there were a few others who wanted to get 1-3 entries in who never made it. Even in this small pool of people I personally know, I'd much rather each of them got 2-3 in or yes, even just one.

Yes, unfortunately the situation makes Ninkasi way more about entry persistence or luck any absolute brewing prowess. The severe entry caps will negate the Ninkasi but I think it's way more important for people to be psyched about the possibility for ONE medal than a few with their eyes on Ninkasi. It just doesn't work in this system nor any system that can be imagined in the future.

Got to agree here.  Would add if necessary, beers need to have placed in prior sanctioned competitions.
Title: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: ajk on March 08, 2013, 02:01:00 PM
how much money would the AHA save by NOT printing out those certificates for first round beers that get some score above 20?

I've suggested before we do away with these. Maybe we're worried about discouraging people from entering next time. Oh, wait. :-)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 14, 2013, 12:56:15 PM
Hi Michael,

No, I did not get a chance to enter.  I happened to be away from my computer for the approximately 1 hour window during which the last 450 spots were filled.

Actually I agree with all your ideas.  They reward good behavior (helping out the competition, joining the AHA) and require the brewer, who at this level should be able to judge his/her own beer, to send only their best.   You could even limit it further than 10; 5? 3?..... 1?!  A number based on judging capacity and number of potential entrants.

Regarding the BOS judging idea, if I got 2nd in Round 1, I'd send it to the Round 2 for sure for a chance at Silver or Bronze? Heck yeah!  It's only fair b/c I might have entered into a 'meatgrinder' of a region, containing all of the best brewers of that style of beer.

Todd


interesting concept. 
Many including me have suggested that only first and second or only first place First Round beers advance to the Final Round, and your idea does avoid the problem of 2nd/3rd best in a region also being 2nd/3rd best in Final Round and missing out.
What I think would happen is few silver first round medalists would bother to ship their entries to the second round knowing there was only a 9% chance their beer would even be opened, and couldn't get higher than Silver.  Bronze would be even more sparsely represented.

But I do not see a way around it.  The interest in the first round competition is larger than we can accomodate (does anyone doubt that if we can fill 11 regions in an hour or so that we could easily fill twice that?), and with a Conference that sells out in 24 hours only so many judges can make it there.  Maybe we get hundreds of new high ranked judges but the problem now is access more than willingness to help IMO.

Personally I'd drop the limit to 10 entries, have site pre-registration before entry registration, let volunteers from the previous year register a day early, raise the number of first round regions to whatever Janis can support and retain sanity, and only allow gold medal First Round beers to advance.  Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year.  I'd like to have a way to reward the current year's volunteers with access but we'd have the problem of someone not showing up to judging and having some ugly penalty system.

I'd also consider a pre-registration day where every AHA member had a shot at entering one beer...if the competition fills up before everyone has a chance, too bad.  If not, the following day it opens to everyone to enter more beers and to non-members.

Incidently tmsnyder, did you get registered into the system a week ago?  I know you didn't get beers in.  I keep hearing of e-mails to those that registered but were caught in the gridlock being allowed to fill up the remainder of the competition spots.  Just curious.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 14, 2013, 01:10:01 PM
Hi Michael,

No that's wrong unless I misread and you're talking about the current method of judging Round 2. 

For the BOS style juding of Round 2 that I suggested, if you have 22 Round 1 sites instead of the current 11, you wouldn't need another Round.  You would just do a BOS (actually a mini-BOS or category-BOS, the BOS is for the whole kit and kaboodle) with 22 beers on the table instead of only 11.   

And btw, 11 beers on the mini-BOS table is totally manageable.  Especially since they are all the same style of beer. 

A BOS for a local homebrew competition will usually have 20 to 30 beers on the table, EVERY ONE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STYLE!  So _that's_ much harder and it can take a couple hours to work through it.  You have to evaluate for instance 'is this Robust Porter a better example of its style than this N German Pils is of its style?????'   It's not easy!

Judging the Round 2 as a mini-BOS would be much easier b/c they are all of the same style or category.


Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year. 
Isn't conceivable (Wallace Shawn voice inserted) that a silver and bronze in one region could be a better beer than all the golds in the other regions?

absolutely, and it has happened, but we have to cut it off somewhere.  I don't think anyone wants three rounds, and we have desire to grow the first round beyond 8250 and a limit on how big the Final Round can be.  Something has to give.  As stated elsewhere who is to say that 4th place is not the best in the Final Round?  If we have twice as many first round regions and invite G/S/B from each, we still have to organize twice as many Final Round entries as now.  We have to treat them as if the bottles would be opened, but with tmsnyder's suggestion we wouldn't open the majority of entries.  It's a lot of work for beer that isn't going to leave the box.  On the plus side of his suggestion only Gold would have to send in more than 1 bottle, and no one more than two, to the Final Round.
Obviously if there were a perfect solution it would have already been suggested.   :-\ 

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 14, 2013, 02:32:48 PM
As a competition organizer myself (Amber Waves of Grain niagarabrewers.org) this almost made coffee shoot out my nose!

Very funny!

Yes the bjcp tracks judging points, those points are entered one by one on a web based database thanks to Gordon Strong.  It is very well thought out.  It is not hard as the organizer to get on there and assign judge points and organizer points.  I'm happy to do it for the 40, 50, 60 judges and stewards and organizers that come out and volunteer their time to help make the competition run smoothly.   

If I don't do it, I have angry judges on my hands and they won't help me next year.  So the incentive is there and yet there are STILL competitions that do a poor job distributing their judge points.  Look on the bjcp website if you can, you'll see a list of delinquent competitions that haven't done it and they're YEARS LATE!

To take that idea and apply it to 500, 600, 700 entries over 100-200 entrants?  No thanks.  Too much work and no incentive. And if it's not done after the competition is over (and it won't get done) the brewer appeals to the AHA or something?  So now they're dealing with 1000's of angry brewers trying to get their records updated?  That's not something the AHA is going to want to deal with.







As for tracking for a hypothetical qualifier - all you would need is for the competition coordinator to upload the scores and results to a database assessable by the AHA.  The BJCP tracks judging points and steward points, and it's a volunteer organization - I'm sure the AHA could handle this.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on March 14, 2013, 03:52:50 PM
Ok, so now we're back down at the Round 1 level being the problem.

There are plenty of locations that have the capacity to judge 750 entries and judge them well.  The question is, why aren't they volunteering to host a Round 1 site?   Why is the AHA accepting locations for Round 1 that apparently have weak judging pools? 

And the answer from my perspective, as someone involved in one location that certainly has the capacity but is unwilling to host a Round 1, is that the incentives are not there.

My points are:

A)  750 entries is a big competition, a lot of work.  There are areas which can handle this load but you're not attracting them all (I know b/c I'm in such an area)

B) $3 per entry is probably enough to run it, but not enough to feed the judges decently, and provide a thank you gift which is adequate for them to take a day, 2 days, or 3 days out of their lives to judge.  It was $2 or $3 2 years ago, what happened to the $2 bump in entrance fee that was supposed to go towards the judging?  The money should go PRIOR to the competition, into an account that the Round 1 site can draw from by a debit card so organizers can run their competition without having to worry about getting reimbursed for every little penny.  $5 an entry, up front, no reimbursements.

C)  You're not likely to get judges to volunteer for a competition that they were unable to enter.  And usually judges are the better brewers, this is true in our area at least.  So allow early NHC registration for the judges from the previous year.  This will do several things.  1. Motivate the judges to judge at a Round 1 site  2. Motivate non-judges to become judges.  3. Motivate organizer/judges to volunteer to host a Round 1 site.  This will increase the Round 1 judge pool and allow you to have an even bigger competition open to everyone.

D)  My main point:  There's no reason for any bottleneck if the competition is set up correctly.

Todd

 
Thanks for this, it is a novel proposal.  I've added it to the list of things for the committee to consider for next year's competition.

Although often the judging at the first round sites is not where it needs to be, so trusting that the first round site got them in the right order is not a given.  I've seen some pretty bad judging sheets from first round sites, sheets with fewer than 20 words written on them.  And in the words of one former Ninkasi winner "I've personally seen how unrelated these rankings seem to be from round to round."

I also want to point out that as soon as you clear one bottleneck another appears - there are a limited number of first round sites that can handle 750 entries, I doubt we can get to 20 let alone 30.  Still, it is a constructive suggestion we will discuss.  Thanks.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on March 22, 2013, 05:05:21 PM

C)  You're not likely to get judges to volunteer for a competition that they were unable to enter.  And usually judges are the better brewers, this is true in our area at least.  So allow early NHC registration for the judges from the previous year.  This will do several things.  1. Motivate the judges to judge at a Round 1 site  2. Motivate non-judges to become judges.  3. Motivate organizer/judges to volunteer to host a Round 1 site.  This will increase the Round 1 judge pool and allow you to have an even bigger competition open to everyone.


YES!  I like this idea.  It would be hard to start but would roll nicely by the second year.  So the number of judges is a problem.  Its actually the number of GOOD judges that is a problem.  If judges got a priority into entering the competition, it may encourage a non-judge (who might make a great judge) to become a judge.  What motivation is there to becoming a judge?  I did it so that I'd understand the brewing process better and could improve the quality of my homebrew.

Fred Bonjour was on the brewing network last week and shot this idea down because the governing committee wants EVERYONE to have a fair chance.  I don't agree with that because it's unrealistic.  If there is a lack of help or judges now, then encourage AHA memebers to help/judge so that the competition can continue to grow with the AHA membership.

I really think that this is the easiest fix for a short term goal. 

on the other hand, I did sit in front of my computer at work a whole hour before the entry window was up.  I sat there reloading the page over and over for a few hours until I got my 15 entries into this years competition.  I will not do this again next year and I am sure there are more people with the same intention.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: repo on March 22, 2013, 05:47:48 PM

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.
on the other hand, I did sit in front of my computer at work a whole hour before the entry window was up.  I sat there reloading the page over and over for a few hours until I got my 15 entries into this years competition.  I will not do this again next year and I am sure there are more people with the same intention.

Which is it??? ::) ::) ::)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bbkf on March 22, 2013, 06:14:06 PM

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.
on the other hand, I did sit in front of my computer at work a whole hour before the entry window was up.  I sat there reloading the page over and over for a few hours until I got my 15 entries into this years competition.  I will not do this again next year and I am sure there are more people with the same intention.

Which is it??? ::) ::) ::)

damn you!  busted.   :-[
I did it at work because my job is that layed back.  I know some people who did take the day off to enter though.   I told my boss that I was not going to be doing any work after lunch and that my priority was entering my beers.  he was ok with it.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: snowtiger87 on March 27, 2013, 04:23:41 PM
Another complaint. Why are we limited to 50 characters for the description on the specialty categories? That is not enough. It needs to be 100. In same competitions I have seen as much as 1/2 page of description.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on March 27, 2013, 04:32:58 PM
(http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/122/7/8/beating_a_dead_horse_by_potatoehuman-d3fead4.jpg)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: duxx on May 04, 2013, 04:01:52 PM
^^^
LMAO!

I'm totally stealing this photo.  It is so appropriate for other forums as well.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: garyg on June 21, 2013, 03:55:44 PM
We head in to Philadelphia next week for the National Homebrewers Conference. Before the start of the conference we have the annual AHA Governing Committee meeting--the one in-person meeting for the committee (the GC holds monthly conference calls, plus additional subcommittee conference calls, and daily exchanges via email).  The National Homebrew Competition will be a major topic of discussion for the group.

I'd like to thank the many AHA members who have posted some very thoughtful ideas on how to handle the NHC's growth in this thread.  The AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has contemplated many of the ideas posted here.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank Geoff Humphrey, the developer of the BrewingCompetition.com competition registration and database system we used for this year's competition. While I dropped the ball in not insisting upon a more thorough testing regime, Geoff has stuck with the AHA staff throughout and put in many hours on fixes and improvements to the software.  Thank you Geoff!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: garyg on June 21, 2013, 03:58:16 PM
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has put together a survey to gather AHA members' feedback on their priorities for the National Homebrew Competition, which will help in deciding what steps we will take for future competitions.  Look for that to be sent via email shortly after next week's National Homebrewers Conference.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on July 01, 2013, 06:24:25 PM

I'm looking forward to seeing some improvement in the NHC, as it stands I wouldn't consider it an accurate measure of the best homebrewers in the country.  It's only a competition between those lucky enough to get in before the spots all fill up. 

This was confirmed Thursday morning when I judged German Wheats and Ryes and was seriously underwhelmed by the beers.  A few were in the upper 30's, NONE in the 40s.  One I wanted to give a 19, it was flawed, but for the purposes of the NHC there's no point in that so I managed to get it up to 20 or 21. 

I would expect that if the competition were actually representing the best beers from everyone that wanted to enter it, that the beers would all be upper 30's, with some in the 40's and maybe even a 50 occasionally. 

This is, in fact, what I observe when judging the NYS Homebrewer of the Year, which is judged as a BOS competition and is entered, for free, by invitation only, based on wins at the regional competitions around the state. For each of every 5 wins during the year, and the brewer is invited to send one beer to represent him or herself.  The beers sent in are almost 100% excellent and picking the best example of style is a long, hard process.  I'm not saying that the NHC should be an invitational, although that is an option, I'm just saying that IF the NHC were an open competition, there would be better beer at the table when you get it down to what are supposed to be the 33 best examples of the style from around the country.

Hopefully Janis and Fred and all those guys can figure it out, I know it's not an easy situation to be in.  But for the level of work that goes into running the competition, it ought to be open to everyone that wants to enter.  If not, what's the point? 


Oh, and I forgot to mention that the AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has put together a survey to gather AHA members' feedback on their priorities for the National Homebrew Competition, which will help in deciding what steps we will take for future competitions.  Look for that to be sent via email shortly after next week's National Homebrewers Conference.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: dbeechum on July 02, 2013, 05:51:32 AM
I would expect that if the competition were actually representing the best beers from everyone that wanted to enter it, that the beers would all be upper 30's, with some in the 40's and maybe even a 50 occasionally. 

I'll just say that in all my years of judging the second round of the NHC, this has never happened to me. I usually end up with at least one beer in the teens, a few in the 20's, most hovering around 30-34 and 1-2 above that.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: jeffy on July 02, 2013, 11:12:30 AM
I would expect that if the competition were actually representing the best beers from everyone that wanted to enter it, that the beers would all be upper 30's, with some in the 40's and maybe even a 50 occasionally. 

I'll just say that in all my years of judging the second round of the NHC, this has never happened to me. I usually end up with at least one beer in the teens, a few in the 20's, most hovering around 30-34 and 1-2 above that.

This year I had one or two in the upper 20's and two in the lower 40's.  All the rest were somewhere in the mid to upper 30's.  We didn't have any bad ones of the twelve (of 33) our panel judged.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on July 02, 2013, 11:55:06 AM
Hi Gary,

Where do we go to see the minutes of the Governing Committee meeting?  Is it available to the membership?

Todd

We head in to Philadelphia next week for the National Homebrewers Conference. Before the start of the conference we have the annual AHA Governing Committee meeting--the one in-person meeting for the committee (the GC holds monthly conference calls, plus additional subcommittee conference calls, and daily exchanges via email).  The National Homebrew Competition will be a major topic of discussion for the group.

I'd like to thank the many AHA members who have posted some very thoughtful ideas on how to handle the NHC's growth in this thread.  The AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has contemplated many of the ideas posted here.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank Geoff Humphrey, the developer of the BrewingCompetition.com competition registration and database system we used for this year's competition. While I dropped the ball in not insisting upon a more thorough testing regime, Geoff has stuck with the AHA staff throughout and put in many hours on fixes and improvements to the software.  Thank you Geoff!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: garyg on July 03, 2013, 08:31:25 PM
Where do we go to see the minutes of the Governing Committee meeting?  Is it available to the membership?

That hasn't happened in the past, but I know that GC chair Jake Keeler is interested in putting together a GC report for the membership that we'd probably post to a members-only page on HomebrewersAssociation.org.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: davidgzach on July 04, 2013, 01:24:47 PM
Where do we go to see the minutes of the Governing Committee meeting?  Is it available to the membership?

That hasn't happened in the past, but I know that GC chair Jake Keeler is interested in putting together a GC report for the membership that we'd probably post to a members-only page on HomebrewersAssociation.org.

I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on July 04, 2013, 04:04:10 PM
I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?

I hope so.  I'll see if I can get comments from Jake.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 04, 2013, 04:37:29 PM
I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?

I hope so.  I'll see if I can get comments from Jake.

Since the need for a nap interfered with my going to the members meeting (getting old), is there a summary posted for members not in the room?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on July 04, 2013, 04:41:52 PM
I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?

I hope so.  I'll see if I can get comments from Jake.

Since the need for a nap interfered with my going to the members meeting (getting old), is there a summary posted for members not in the room?

Not as far as I know, Jeff.  I'd like to see one, too, since I also wasn't there.  Let's see what Jake has to say.  Maybe he can cover both the GC and members meetings.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: MDixon on July 05, 2013, 12:47:28 PM
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has put together a survey to gather AHA members' feedback on their priorities for the National Homebrew Competition, which will help in deciding what steps we will take for future competitions.

My suggestion is only the top two entries from each region move to the big show. (I'd actually suggest it be only one, but the natives might go crazy.) The problem as I see it is from each region you get one good to great entry, a lesser and a lesser. So one worth making the trip and two which really should have stayed back on the bench. I judged two flights of 11 and had 3 in one flight worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS and only 2 in the other worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS.

If the entries were cut by that third place entry in each region it would alleviate having to handle 1/3 of the entries which is not just a handful of bottles.

I know some would contend X region or Y region makes better beer and all three should advance, but sitting at the final round judging table and giving a low score is not how I really want to spend my time. I don't mind assisting a brewer with a flawed brew in making better beer, but I shouldn't have to detail that at the final round of judging. My $0.02.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 05, 2013, 01:41:30 PM
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the AHA GC Competition Subcommittee has put together a survey to gather AHA members' feedback on their priorities for the National Homebrew Competition, which will help in deciding what steps we will take for future competitions.

My suggestion is only the top two entries from each region move to the big show. (I'd actually suggest it be only one, but the natives might go crazy.) The problem as I see it is from each region you get one good to great entry, a lesser and a lesser. So one worth making the trip and two which really should have stayed back on the bench. I judged two flights of 11 and had 3 in one flight worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS and only 2 in the other worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS.

If the entries were cut by that third place entry in each region it would alleviate having to handle 1/3 of the entries which is not just a handful of bottles.

I know some would contend X region or Y region makes better beer and all three should advance, but sitting at the final round judging table and giving a low score is not how I really want to spend my time. I don't mind assisting a brewer with a flawed brew in making better beer, but I shouldn't have to detail that at the final round of judging. My $0.02.

In a perfect world, only the first place would be needed. How many times has a third place first round beer medaled in the second round? The friend setting next to me at the ceremony got a Silver for for his 3rd place first round beer. Can you guess where my entry in the first round placed in the same first round site?

Edit - this was Jim's first National medal, and we were all happy for him.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on July 05, 2013, 01:48:05 PM
My suggestion is only the top two entries from each region move to the big show. (I'd actually suggest it be only one, but the natives might go crazy.) The problem as I see it is from each region you get one good to great entry, a lesser and a lesser. So one worth making the trip and two which really should have stayed back on the bench. I judged two flights of 11 and had 3 in one flight worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS and only 2 in the other worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS.

Alternatively, implement a minimum score needed to advance to the final round. - But honestly, that's probably a small part of the problem. I think past winners should automatically get to enter as many beers as they want the next year. This will ensure high quality entries from the best brewers. All other slots should be assigned by lottery to keep the open feel.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 05, 2013, 01:52:57 PM
My suggestion is only the top two entries from each region move to the big show. (I'd actually suggest it be only one, but the natives might go crazy.) The problem as I see it is from each region you get one good to great entry, a lesser and a lesser. So one worth making the trip and two which really should have stayed back on the bench. I judged two flights of 11 and had 3 in one flight worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS and only 2 in the other worthy of advancing to a mini-BOS.

Alternatively, implement a minimum score needed to advance to the final round. - But honestly, that's probably a small part of the problem. I think past winners should automatically get to enter as many beers as they want the next year. This will ensure high quality entries from the best brewers. All other slots should be assigned by lottery to keep the open feel.
Isn't a 30 the minimum right now?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Jimmy K on July 05, 2013, 02:05:29 PM

Alternatively, implement a minimum score needed to advance to the final round. - But honestly, that's probably a small part of the problem. I think past winners should automatically get to enter as many beers as they want the next year. This will ensure high quality entries from the best brewers. All other slots should be assigned by lottery to keep the open feel.
Isn't a 30 the minimum right now?
I think so - I really meant raise it. Maybe to 35? I don't know, it's arbitrary - I don't like arbitrary. I'd rather ensure that great brewers get to enter and let the beer speak for itself.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: MDixon on July 05, 2013, 02:48:17 PM
I'm good with 3 entries advance if all go above 35. It may force judges to smack a finger to decide if the 34 moves up to a 35, but it should keep me from having to choke down and evaluate a beer which is awful even when you pull another bottle to double check. I suspect time was not on the entrant's side. ;)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 05, 2013, 02:56:11 PM
What is the point of raising the lower limit to 35 if scoring is arbitrary and if time can degrade entries?

What if a set of judges scores higher than everyone around them, and they're judging an IIPA. You will the score meet the criteria provided, but when the brewer doesn't rebrew it, you're still drinking a 4 month old IIPA at the final round of NHC.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 05, 2013, 04:44:02 PM
We could really use some stats...

For instance, how many 30-34 point entries would have been cut out of the Final Round if the First Round lower limit was raised to 35?  How many 30-34 eventually got a medal in this or any Final Round?  I know my APA got to mini-BOS in the First Round despite only a 33.

Also, we often hear a suggestion to limit entries to AHA members.  How many non-members pay the $17/entry to enter?  Are they a significant portion, or does cutting them out not give many additional spots to members?

How many brewers entered the maximum of 15 entries?   
etc, etc.

I will say that with 190+ judges in the morning session doing 23 beer categories and only 5 meads/ciders after lunch there appears to be room to grow the Final Round number of entries.  (I'm ignoring for the moment whether Janis can maintain sanity with a bigger comp...)  I would suggest that with further growth we'll need 4 teams of judges on each category rather than the current 3, but there appeared to be sufficient judges to do so this year.  Shorter flights would be welcome.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: dbeechum on July 05, 2013, 05:43:22 PM
The ones I think I can answer from the data I've seen.

190+ judges in the finals so far is an aberration. So, I wouldn't count on that staying at that level.

The number of entries from non-AHA members was tiny, like 0.1% of the entries. (We asked about this in the GC and it was very very tiny, basically a rounding error)

 
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: mabrungard on July 05, 2013, 05:51:40 PM
Participation by highly qualified judges is what makes the NHC work. Getting those judges into seats at the various competitions is a critical effort. 

I noticed a recommendation for judges to get a pre-registration slot for the next year's competition.  That is a no-cost incentive that AHA can provide judges and it is something that is reasonable.  Those judges have already spent hundreds of dollars in some cases to support the judging.  Another no-cost incentive for judges is to give them a pre-registration slot for the conference too.  Both of these options are no-cost to AHA, but will require a bit of bookkeeping.  This shouldn't be a big deal and given the exclusivity of these registrations, they could be STRONG incentives.

I do worry about the qualifications of the judges at the NHC and the potential for the opportunity for pre-registration to be abused or 'not effectively' used to get highly qualified judges in the seats.  Therefore, I suggest that a certain number of pre-registration slots be allotted to each first round center with the competition organizer having the discretion of awarding the slots to judges, but it would generally be the highest ranking judges receiving those slots.  This also provides the competition organizer a stick (or carrot) to make sure that judges are providing good feedback.  At the BJCP meeting in Philly, we lamented the fact that even highly-ranked judges can sometimes provide poor feedback.  This is a tool that the competition organizer might use at their discretion.   

Although the NHC is one of the highest entry cost competitions, its the de-facto highest competition in the land and it should not be a surprise that it is more costly to run.  The 2 rounds also increase costs.  I am not embarrassed to have the entry fees higher than other comps.  Raising this year's entry fee was a good move and it appears that another small increase to improve the support judges receive at the first round centers would be welcome.  Those judges are spending a lot to participate and they get little from it other than the satisfaction of a job well done and comradery.   

Its been several years since my last NHC entry, but I would hope that AHA membership counts for something.  I'm hoping that AHA membership is a requirement for early registration to any AHA-run event.  Like they say, 'Membership has its privileges'.  There is no reason why a non-AHA member should have a greater opportunity to register for our events than a member.  Again, a pre-registration opportunity for AHA members should be a consideration. 

Finally, the number of entries per person is currently excessive.  My review of the recent Ninkasi winners shows that no winner had more than 4 or 5 placings.  This year and last, the winners each had 2 first places.  There is no need to allow up to 15 entries into the NHC.  I suggest that 5 might be the proper entry limit.

Enjoy!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 05, 2013, 06:13:36 PM
Thanks Drew.
really appreciate it.  I suspected non-member entries were not a significant number so thanks for confirming.  I think the more information like this people have the better the inevitable suggestions for improvement will be.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 06, 2013, 12:53:22 AM
Participation by highly qualified judges is what makes the NHC work. Getting those judges into seats at the various competitions is a critical effort. 

I noticed a recommendation for judges to get a pre-registration slot for the next year's competition.  That is a no-cost incentive that AHA can provide judges and it is something that is reasonable.  Those judges have already spent hundreds of dollars in some cases to support the judging.  Another no-cost incentive for judges is to give them a pre-registration slot for the conference too.  Both of these options are no-cost to AHA, but will require a bit of bookkeeping.  This shouldn't be a big deal and given the exclusivity of these registrations, they could be STRONG incentives.8

I do worry about the qualifications of the judges at the NHC and the potential for the opportunity for pre-registration to be abused or 'not effectively' used to get highly qualified judges in the seats.  Therefore, I suggest that a certain number of pre-registration slots be allotted to each first round center with the competition organizer having the discretion of awarding the slots to judges, but it would generally be the highest ranking judges receiving those slots.  This also provides the competition organizer a stick (or carrot) to make sure that judges are providing good feedback.  At the BJCP meeting in Philly, we lamented the fact that even highly-ranked judges can sometimes provide poor feedback.  This is a tool that the competition organizer might use at their discretion.   

Although the NHC is one of the highest entry cost competitions, its the de-facto highest competition in the land and it should not be a surprise that it is more costly to run.  The 2 rounds also increase costs.  I am not embarrassed to have the entry fees higher than other comps.  Raising this year's entry fee was a good move and it appears that another small increase to improve the support judges receive at the first round centers would be welcome.  Those judges are spending a lot to participate and they get little from it other than the satisfaction of a job well done and comradery.   

Its been several years since my last NHC entry, but I would hope that AHA membership counts for something.  I'm hoping that AHA membership is a requirement for early registration to any AHA-run event.  Like they say, 'Membership has its privileges'.  There is no reason why a non-AHA member should have a greater opportunity to register for our events than a member.  Again, a pre-registration opportunity for AHA members should be a consideration. 

Finally, the number of entries per person is currently excessive.  My review of the recent Ninkasi winners shows that no winner had more than 4 or 5 placings.  This year and last, the winners each had 2 first places.  There is no need to allow up to 15 entries into the NHC.  I suggest that 5 might be the proper entry limit.

Enjoy!
Maybe David can say how many he had in the first round.

Edit - he had 4 advance from the first round, by my quick count.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 06, 2013, 01:19:33 PM
picking my 5 favorites would be brutal.  Picking 8 this year was bad enough!   ;D
as there aren't enough slots for everyone I hope the limit isn't reduced too drastically. 

one more thing...
190+ judges may be an aberration, but then again we're talking about a conference that was almost the size the previous two largest put together...
if the number of judges as a percentage of attendees hasn't changed much then I don't think this year's judge turnout will prove to be an aberration at all.

we're all agreed that the days of small conferences are over, right?
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 06, 2013, 01:26:52 PM
picking my 5 favorites would be brutal.  Picking 8 this year was bad enough!   ;D
as there aren't enough slots for everyone I hope the limit isn't reduced too drastically. 

one more thing...
190+ judges may be an aberration, but then again we're talking about a conference that was almost the size the previous two largest put together...
if the number of judges as a percentage of attendees hasn't changed much then I don't think this year's judge turnout will prove to be an aberration at all.

we're all agreed that the days of small conferences are over, right?
Next year is to be a little bigger. Unless the hobby and AHA membership shrink, big conferences and convention centers are here to stay.


Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: dbarber on July 06, 2013, 09:28:41 PM
I had 14 beers in the first round.  I find that usually 30% of my beers move to the 2nd round and maybe another 30% may medal.  I think if we limit the number of first round entries to 5 you will end up with a lot of brewers tied for the Ninkasi with 1 gold medal.

Participation by highly qualified judges is what makes the NHC work. Getting those judges into seats at the various competitions is a critical effort. 

I noticed a recommendation for judges to get a pre-registration slot for the next year's competition.  That is a no-cost incentive that AHA can provide judges and it is something that is reasonable.  Those judges have already spent hundreds of dollars in some cases to support the judging.  Another no-cost incentive for judges is to give them a pre-registration slot for the conference too.  Both of these options are no-cost to AHA, but will require a bit of bookkeeping.  This shouldn't be a big deal and given the exclusivity of these registrations, they could be STRONG incentives.8

I do worry about the qualifications of the judges at the NHC and the potential for the opportunity for pre-registration to be abused or 'not effectively' used to get highly qualified judges in the seats.  Therefore, I suggest that a certain number of pre-registration slots be allotted to each first round center with the competition organizer having the discretion of awarding the slots to judges, but it would generally be the highest ranking judges receiving those slots.  This also provides the competition organizer a stick (or carrot) to make sure that judges are providing good feedback.  At the BJCP meeting in Philly, we lamented the fact that even highly-ranked judges can sometimes provide poor feedback.  This is a tool that the competition organizer might use at their discretion.   

Although the NHC is one of the highest entry cost competitions, its the de-facto highest competition in the land and it should not be a surprise that it is more costly to run.  The 2 rounds also increase costs.  I am not embarrassed to have the entry fees higher than other comps.  Raising this year's entry fee was a good move and it appears that another small increase to improve the support judges receive at the first round centers would be welcome.  Those judges are spending a lot to participate and they get little from it other than the satisfaction of a job well done and comradery.   

Its been several years since my last NHC entry, but I would hope that AHA membership counts for something.  I'm hoping that AHA membership is a requirement for early registration to any AHA-run event.  Like they say, 'Membership has its privileges'.  There is no reason why a non-AHA member should have a greater opportunity to register for our events than a member.  Again, a pre-registration opportunity for AHA members should be a consideration. 

Finally, the number of entries per person is currently excessive.  My review of the recent Ninkasi winners shows that no winner had more than 4 or 5 placings.  This year and last, the winners each had 2 first places.  There is no need to allow up to 15 entries into the NHC.  I suggest that 5 might be the proper entry limit.

Enjoy!
Maybe David can say how many he had in the first round.

Edit - he had 4 advance from the first round, by my quick count.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 06, 2013, 10:06:22 PM
I had 14 beers in the first round.  I find that usually 30% of my beers move to the 2nd round and maybe another 30% may medal.  I think if we limit the number of first round entries to 5 you will end up with a lot of brewers tied for the Ninkasi with 1 gold medal.

Participation by highly qualified judges is what makes the NHC work. Getting those judges into seats at the various competitions is a critical effort. 

I noticed a recommendation for judges to get a pre-registration slot for the next year's competition.  That is a no-cost incentive that AHA can provide judges and it is something that is reasonable.  Those judges have already spent hundreds of dollars in some cases to support the judging.  Another no-cost incentive for judges is to give them a pre-registration slot for the conference too.  Both of these options are no-cost to AHA, but will require a bit of bookkeeping.  This shouldn't be a big deal and given the exclusivity of these registrations, they could be STRONG incentives.8

I do worry about the qualifications of the judges at the NHC and the potential for the opportunity for pre-registration to be abused or 'not effectively' used to get highly qualified judges in the seats.  Therefore, I suggest that a certain number of pre-registration slots be allotted to each first round center with the competition organizer having the discretion of awarding the slots to judges, but it would generally be the highest ranking judges receiving those slots.  This also provides the competition organizer a stick (or carrot) to make sure that judges are providing good feedback.  At the BJCP meeting in Philly, we lamented the fact that even highly-ranked judges can sometimes provide poor feedback.  This is a tool that the competition organizer might use at their discretion.   

Although the NHC is one of the highest entry cost competitions, its the de-facto highest competition in the land and it should not be a surprise that it is more costly to run.  The 2 rounds also increase costs.  I am not embarrassed to have the entry fees higher than other comps.  Raising this year's entry fee was a good move and it appears that another small increase to improve the support judges receive at the first round centers would be welcome.  Those judges are spending a lot to participate and they get little from it other than the satisfaction of a job well done and comradery.   

Its been several years since my last NHC entry, but I would hope that AHA membership counts for something.  I'm hoping that AHA membership is a requirement for early registration to any AHA-run event.  Like they say, 'Membership has its privileges'.  There is no reason why a non-AHA member should have a greater opportunity to register for our events than a member.  Again, a pre-registration opportunity for AHA members should be a consideration. 

Finally, the number of entries per person is currently excessive.  My review of the recent Ninkasi winners shows that no winner had more than 4 or 5 placings.  This year and last, the winners each had 2 first places.  There is no need to allow up to 15 entries into the NHC.  I suggest that 5 might be the proper entry limit.

Enjoy!
Maybe David can say how many he had in the first round.

Edit - he had 4 advance from the first round, by my quick count.

That is the Gordon Strong 1/3 advance rule in action. Thanks for the reply, David.

There is the issue, do you reduce the number of entrees to a small number and have many tie for the Ninkasi, or do you just eliminate the Ninkasi? The Competition Committe has some tough decisions to make.
 

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: MDixon on July 07, 2013, 07:32:42 PM
What is the point of raising the lower limit to 35 if scoring is arbitrary and if time can degrade entries?

What if a set of judges scores higher than everyone around them, and they're judging an IIPA. You will the score meet the criteria provided, but when the brewer doesn't rebrew it, you're still drinking a 4 month old IIPA at the final round of NHC.

There was a smiley after the time statement for a reason, it was a cider and it was awful as was the second bottle. Cider is generally not something which goes south in a short period of time.

IME a 4 month old IIPA should not be past it's prime unless it is marketed by Stone.

Sure a 35 might be arbitrary for a particular judge set. In an ideal world in the first round each judge team would have a BJCP judge on the panel, but often that judge may not be the most experienced and I typically find new judges either score extremely low or on the high end. I still feel moving the bar up would help alleviate having entries show up with no business in the final round.

At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 07, 2013, 07:54:25 PM

There was a smiley after the time statement for a reason, it was a cider and it was awful as was the second bottle. Cider is generally not something which goes south in a short period of time.

IME a 4 month old IIPA should not be past it's prime unless it is marketed by Stone.

Sure a 35 might be arbitrary for a particular judge set. In an ideal world in the first round each judge team would have a BJCP judge on the panel, but often that judge may not be the most experienced and I typically find new judges either score extremely low or on the high end. I still feel moving the bar up would help alleviate having entries show up with no business in the final round.

At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.

just in case that was mine, I effed up the blend on my two Final Round ciders when I got in a hurry, sorry.  Dropped from 43/40 First Round to upper 20's/low 30's.  Though it sounds like you encountered something even worse...
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on July 07, 2013, 08:27:58 PM
At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.

The first time I judged final round was in Orlando with you.  We judged bocks.  I recall both of us saying how disappointed we were in the overall quality of them.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Siamese Moose on July 07, 2013, 09:27:51 PM
At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.

I judged light hybrids in San Diego, and gave out more sub-20 scores than above 30. I gave a couple of Kolsch's 15 or lower. My experience indicates one reason beers in the second round can be so bad - many of the beers were clearly cooked! We're talking orange here. I'm guessing they went by truck through the southwest on their way to San Diego. For anybody shipping cross-country in the summer I can easily see issues.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on July 08, 2013, 12:25:09 PM
I had 14 beers in the first round.  I find that usually 30% of my beers move to the 2nd round and maybe another 30% may medal.  I think if we limit the number of first round entries to 5 you will end up with a lot of brewers tied for the Ninkasi with 1 gold medal.

Congratulations on your medals and Ninkasi, and to your club for the Gambrinus award.  We were a table away from you and it was cool to see how excited everyone got!!
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 08, 2013, 12:53:52 PM
At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.

The first time I judged final round was in Orlando with you.  We judged bocks.  I recall both of us saying how disappointed we were in the overall quality of them.

As a data point, I hand delivered my entries (assistant organizer, so I just walked them to the cooler) in KC. I entered 4 beers and advanced 2. 50%, not bad right? Anyway, I have a "clone" of Boulevard's Saison-Brett, a beer you likely cannot get outside of the Midwest. I enter it in 16E with the description, "Saison with dregs from Boulevard's Saison-Brett". In the Midwest, it cleans up in competition. At a recent comp, Stan H. commented something to the effect of "Excellent beer, the brewers at Boulevard would be happy to know that this is how their beers are being used." It placed first at the KC NHC Regional over 68 entries in Belgian & French.

It got a 30 in Philly. It averages a 40.3 in the comps it's been to here in the Midwest.

Perhaps it's a combination of shipping times/heat, regional knowledge and a bit of voodoo? FWIW, I judged at the 2012 finals and was surprised at the lack of really great beer as well.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2013, 01:03:45 PM
At any rate, a judge should not be experiencing a 20 or less at the June final round, especially if the beer scored 30+ in April.

The first time I judged final round was in Orlando with you.  We judged bocks.  I recall both of us saying how disappointed we were in the overall quality of them.

As a data point, I hand delivered my entries (assistant organizer, so I just walked them to the cooler) in KC. I entered 4 beers and advanced 2. 50%, not bad right? Anyway, I have a "clone" of Boulevard's Saison-Brett, a beer you likely cannot get outside of the Midwest. I enter it in 16E with the description, "Saison with dregs from Boulevard's Saison-Brett". In the Midwest, it cleans up in competition. At a recent comp, Stan H. commented something to the effect of "Excellent beer, the brewers at Boulevard would be happy to know that this is how their beers are being used." It placed first at the KC NHC Regional over 68 entries in Belgian & French.

It got a 30 in Philly. It averages a 40.3 in the comps it's been to here in the Midwest.

Perhaps it's a combination of shipping times/heat, regional knowledge and a bit of voodoo? FWIW, I judged at the 2012 finals and was surprised at the lack of really great beer as well.
I always see, or think I see, a larger amount of winners from the region the conference is in. My thinking is that the beers from farther areas get beat up in shipping. No statistical proof of this, but it seems that way.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: mabrungard on July 08, 2013, 01:54:06 PM
I agree with Jeff's comment.  Shipping clearly damages beer and those beers traveling the farthest are more likely to suffer.  In the case of long-distance shipping, air freight might need to be a prerequisite if a brewer is interested in good results at the second round.   
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: MDixon on July 08, 2013, 02:01:28 PM

As a data point, I hand delivered my entries (assistant organizer, so I just walked them to the cooler) in KC. I entered 4 beers and advanced 2. 50%, not bad right? Anyway, I have a "clone" of Boulevard's Saison-Brett, a beer you likely cannot get outside of the Midwest. I enter it in 16E with the description, "Saison with dregs from Boulevard's Saison-Brett". In the Midwest, it cleans up in competition. At a recent comp, Stan H. commented something to the effect of "Excellent beer, the brewers at Boulevard would be happy to know that this is how their beers are being used." It placed first at the KC NHC Regional over 68 entries in Belgian & French.

It got a 30 in Philly. It averages a 40.3 in the comps it's been to here in the Midwest.


I have no idea if the judges in Philly were all from different areas or the same area who evaluated your beer. We get the Boulevard brews in NC, but I don't know if we get that one, I will have to look for it. As you know any 16E or 23 category is a crapshoot. If the judges don't have knowledge of the beers in 16E then the beer just won't take high marks. I seem to recall I did an Oerbier clone once upon a time. At that time most of the people in our area had probably never tasted the beer. It scored well, but not as well as it should have. Doesn't matter, I drank it and enjoyed it immensely.

Handling could be an issue with certain beers, but I've judged at several NHCs and the entries as a whole never shine bright. There are always standouts, but the vast majority just aren't better than average. In the final round they should be better than average!

Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2013, 02:59:29 PM
I agree with Jeff's comment.  Shipping clearly damages beer and those beers traveling the farthest are more likely to suffer.  In the case of long-distance shipping, air freight might need to be a prerequisite if a brewer is interested in good results at the second round.
I used 2 day air to get my second round beers to San Diego. It was pricey, but it paid off, I think.

Here is some unscientific data. SD had one one medal go to someone from MI. Seattle had 1. Philly had 5. It is more likely that the beer was in better condition due to less shipping deterioration than those brewers getting much better over a years time.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 08, 2013, 03:17:19 PM
I agree with Jeff's comment.  Shipping clearly damages beer and those beers traveling the farthest are more likely to suffer.  In the case of long-distance shipping, air freight might need to be a prerequisite if a brewer is interested in good results at the second round.

This was what my "data point" was mostly aimed at - shipping. I decided not to do air freight on this one as it was $170 versus $19 to Philly from KC.

I would really like to see some data on NHCs winning entries versus distance from the competition. I think I could spin this info out of the winner's pages, but it would take some time.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on July 08, 2013, 03:46:27 PM
It seems like the issue with ass hot transport of beer would be easily remedied by moving the NHC to start judging in the late winter with the conference in the spring.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on July 08, 2013, 03:50:12 PM
As a data point, I hand delivered my entries (assistant organizer, so I just walked them to the cooler) in KC. I entered 4 beers and advanced 2. 50%, not bad right? Anyway, I have a "clone" of Boulevard's Saison-Brett, a beer you likely cannot get outside of the Midwest. I enter it in 16E with the description, "Saison with dregs from Boulevard's Saison-Brett". In the Midwest, it cleans up in competition. At a recent comp, Stan H. commented something to the effect of "Excellent beer, the brewers at Boulevard would be happy to know that this is how their beers are being used." It placed first at the KC NHC Regional over 68 entries in Belgian & French.

It got a 30 in Philly. It averages a 40.3 in the comps it's been to here in the Midwest.

Perhaps it's a combination of shipping times/heat, regional knowledge and a bit of voodoo? FWIW, I judged at the 2012 finals and was surprised at the lack of really great beer as well.

I wonder if a more detailed description would help your beer fare better in areas where they do not know the joy of Saison-Brett as we do. I can't imagine a couple weeks of warm transport would destroy a brett beer.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 08, 2013, 03:56:22 PM
As a data point, I hand delivered my entries (assistant organizer, so I just walked them to the cooler) in KC. I entered 4 beers and advanced 2. 50%, not bad right? Anyway, I have a "clone" of Boulevard's Saison-Brett, a beer you likely cannot get outside of the Midwest. I enter it in 16E with the description, "Saison with dregs from Boulevard's Saison-Brett". In the Midwest, it cleans up in competition. At a recent comp, Stan H. commented something to the effect of "Excellent beer, the brewers at Boulevard would be happy to know that this is how their beers are being used." It placed first at the KC NHC Regional over 68 entries in Belgian & French.

It got a 30 in Philly. It averages a 40.3 in the comps it's been to here in the Midwest.

Perhaps it's a combination of shipping times/heat, regional knowledge and a bit of voodoo? FWIW, I judged at the 2012 finals and was surprised at the lack of really great beer as well.

I wonder if a more detailed description would help your beer fare better in areas where they do not know the joy of Saison-Brett as we do. I can't imagine a couple weeks of warm transport would destroy a brett beer.

hard to give much more information when limited to 50 characters of specialty information.  Just sayin'
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: Siamese Moose on July 08, 2013, 04:13:42 PM
It seems like the issue with ass hot transport of beer would be easily remedied by moving the NHC to start judging in the late winter with the conference in the spring.
Having been deeply involved with the conference for a while (Chair of the local committee in 2008, on the AHA Conference Committee since), I can say for certain that there is no way the conference can be held during the school year. FWIW, I ship my entries insulated with gel packs.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bluesman on July 08, 2013, 04:41:06 PM
Having judged the final round in Philly the other week, we scored the entries in the 30+ range. Out of the 11 Strong Ales we judged, there were three that were 35+. Not a bad showing for the final round. It will be interesting to see the breakdown of all entries.

I've recently joined the AHA GC competition subcommittee, and plan to work with the team to address the issues at hand. Looking forward to it. One of our tasks is to get some feedback from a survey, then digest the results for future planning/enhancement.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 08, 2013, 05:18:47 PM
I wonder if a more detailed description would help your beer fare better in areas where they do not know the joy of Saison-Brett as we do. I can't imagine a couple weeks of warm transport would destroy a brett beer.

hard to give much more information when limited to 50 characters of specialty information.  Just sayin'

I think that description is 47-48 characters long. It's okay though, I'm happy with the beer and now I can just hoard the last 12-18 bottles to myself. :)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 08, 2013, 05:50:54 PM
I would really like to see some data on NHCs winning entries versus distance from the competition. I think I could spin this info out of the winner's pages, but it would take some time.

Well, I did this and proved myself wrong.  ::)

I took the 2013 NHC winners, arranged them by state (for time's sake), and assigned each place a value (1st place = 5pts, 2nd = 3pts, 3rd = 1pt). I then took the state and googled "distance from philly to 'x' state" and input the distance.

Looking at the very simplistic -and truncated- data set:
State/Pts/Miles Away
CA   46   2834
MN   21   1324
WA   21   2750
MI   17   788
PA   17   1
TX   14   1687
OH   13   505
VA   11   323
CO   10   1794
NY   9   96
AZ   8   2266
IL   7   842
NM   7   1906


In the top three states, two are from clear across the country. The other is from the middle of the country. Clearly, shipping across the country is not the issue here.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2013, 07:02:22 PM
I would really like to see some data on NHCs winning entries versus distance from the competition. I think I could spin this info out of the winner's pages, but it would take some time.

Well, I did this and proved myself wrong.  ::)

I took the 2013 NHC winners, arranged them by state (for time's sake), and assigned each place a value (1st place = 5pts, 2nd = 3pts, 3rd = 1pt). I then took the state and googled "distance from philly to 'x' state" and input the distance.

Looking at the very simplistic -and truncated- data set:
State/Pts/Miles Away
CA   46   2834
MN   21   1324
WA   21   2750
MI   17   788
PA   17   1
TX   14   1687
OH   13   505
VA   11   323
CO   10   1794
NY   9   96
AZ   8   2266
IL   7   842
NM   7   1906


In the top three states, two are from clear across the country. The other is from the middle of the country. Clearly, shipping across the country is not the issue here.
MI had 1 point in San Diego and one point in Seattle. How did CA do in San Diego?

I might have to dig out some old Zymurgys.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2013, 07:51:01 PM
Found past winners on line.

2012 Seattle, CA = 36
2011 SD, CA = 48
2010 Minneapolis.  CA  = 62
2009 Oakland. CA = 39
2008 Cincinnati. CA = 35
2007 Denver. CA = 48

I want to look at Michigan next.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: AmandaK on July 08, 2013, 08:12:50 PM
Found past winners on line.

2012 Seattle, CA = 36
2011 SD, CA = 48
2010 Minneapolis.  CA  = 62
2009 Oakland. CA = 39
2008 Cincinnati. CA = 35
2007 Denver. CA = 48

I want to look at Michigan next.

The right way to do this would be by percentage since it's pretty obvious that CA skews the results due to high numbers. But I don't think we have those numbers.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: morticaixavier on July 08, 2013, 08:18:58 PM
Found past winners on line.

2012 Seattle, CA = 36
2011 SD, CA = 48
2010 Minneapolis.  CA  = 62
2009 Oakland. CA = 39
2008 Cincinnati. CA = 35
2007 Denver. CA = 48

I want to look at Michigan next.

The right way to do this would be by percentage since it's pretty obvious that CA skews the results due to high numbers. But I don't think we have those numbers.

At least for the later comps you could start by simply dividing CA numbers by 2 as we are the only state (I think) that has two first round sites thus allowing us to potentially advance twice as many beers. (Assuming that the entry site correlates with the home state of the entrant)
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2013, 08:24:23 PM
Found past winners on line.

2012 Seattle, CA = 36
2011 SD, CA = 48
2010 Minneapolis.  CA  = 62
2009 Oakland. CA = 39
2008 Cincinnati. CA = 35
2007 Denver. CA = 48

I want to look at Michigan next.

The right way to do this would be by percentage since it's pretty obvious that CA skews the results due to high numbers. But I don't think we have those numbers.
Right. Some of those years would have a Jamil Z. effect. Quaff and Doze do well too.

MI over the years.

2013 Philly = 17
2012 Seattle = 1
2011 San Diego = 1
2010 Minneapolis =11
2009 Oakland = 14
2008 Cincinnati = 9
2007 Denver  = 24
2006 Orlando = 10
2005 Baltimore  = 5
2004 Las Vegas = 9
2003 Chicago = 23

Maybe some influence in that due to distance? Cincinnati was low, Denver and Oakland high.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: udubdawg on July 09, 2013, 01:43:14 AM
because who doesn't like more stats:

which region did 23 categories of beer medals and points (6/4/2) come from?

New York:       10 medals, 36 pts
Northern Cal:    8 medals, 36 pts
Tulsa:              7 medals, 28 pts
Ohio:               7 medals, 28 pts
Minnesota:       7 medals, 28 pts
Southern Cal:   6 medals, 22 pts
Milwaukee:       6 medals, 18 pts
Seattle:            5 medals, 22 pts
Denver:            5 medals, 16 pts
Atlanta:            4 medals, 20 pts
Kansas City      3 medals, 16 pts

mostly well distributed, and of course people shipped all over the place.  I don't think I could make any statements about what the numbers mean other than the fairly obvious:  any shipping is worse than local drop-off for the Final Round.  Would we see the most local region near the top of this list most years?  Seems likely, but what do I know.

if anyone adds those up and notices only 68 medals, I cannot find the Cat 18 Gold winner on any regional lists.  If that is an administrative advance beer that is awesome for him, though it does illustrate the need for further improvement to the competition.

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 09, 2013, 02:12:55 AM
because who doesn't like more stats:

which region did 23 categories of beer medals and points (6/4/2) come from?

New York:       10 medals, 36 pts
Northern Cal:    8 medals, 36 pts
Tulsa:              7 medals, 28 pts
Ohio:               7 medals, 28 pts
Minnesota:       7 medals, 28 pts
Southern Cal:   6 medals, 22 pts
Milwaukee:       6 medals, 18 pts
Seattle:            5 medals, 22 pts
Denver:            5 medals, 16 pts
Atlanta:            4 medals, 20 pts
Kansas City      3 medals, 16 pts

mostly well distributed, and of course people shipped all over the place.  I don't think I could make any statements about what the numbers mean other than the fairly obvious:  any shipping is worse than local drop-off for the Final Round.  Would we see the most local region near the top of this list most years?  Seems likely, but what do I know.

if anyone adds those up and notices only 68 medals, I cannot find the Cat 18 Gold winner on any regional lists.  If that is an administrative advance beer that is awesome for him, though it does illustrate the need for further improvement to the competition.

cheers--
--Michael
That is a good analysis.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: bluesman on July 09, 2013, 04:36:54 PM
because who doesn't like more stats:

which region did 23 categories of beer medals and points (6/4/2) come from?

New York:       10 medals, 36 pts
Northern Cal:    8 medals, 36 pts
Tulsa:              7 medals, 28 pts
Ohio:               7 medals, 28 pts
Minnesota:       7 medals, 28 pts
Southern Cal:   6 medals, 22 pts
Milwaukee:       6 medals, 18 pts
Seattle:            5 medals, 22 pts
Denver:            5 medals, 16 pts
Atlanta:            4 medals, 20 pts
Kansas City      3 medals, 16 pts

mostly well distributed, and of course people shipped all over the place.  I don't think I could make any statements about what the numbers mean other than the fairly obvious:  any shipping is worse than local drop-off for the Final Round.  Would we see the most local region near the top of this list most years?  Seems likely, but what do I know.

if anyone adds those up and notices only 68 medals, I cannot find the Cat 18 Gold winner on any regional lists.  If that is an administrative advance beer that is awesome for him, though it does illustrate the need for further improvement to the competition.

cheers--
--Michael
That is a good analysis.

+1

Nice summary
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: macbrews on July 09, 2013, 05:20:26 PM
Out of curiosity, when (or where if they already have) do they post the Club of the Year scores?

Mac
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: theDarkSide on July 09, 2013, 05:23:59 PM
Out of curiosity, when (or where if they already have) do they post the Club of the Year scores?

Mac

This is where they were posted last year, so I'd assume they would just update this page. 
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/competitions/national-homebrew-competition/winners

When?  I have no idea but I'm sure they are just getting back to normal operations.  They definitely deserve a vacation with all the hard work they do for the conference.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: tmsnyder on August 06, 2013, 04:34:02 PM
Are the minutes to the Governing Committee meeting available? 


I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?

I hope so.  I'll see if I can get comments from Jake.
Title: Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
Post by: denny on August 06, 2013, 04:55:25 PM
Are the minutes to the Governing Committee meeting available? 


I think this is a good idea.  Can we count on it?

I hope so.  I'll see if I can get comments from Jake.

I really don't know.  Lemme see if I can get ahold of Jake.