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General Category => Events => Homebrew Competitions => Topic started by: Fade1800 on December 10, 2014, 01:53:28 AM

Title: Competition Cheating
Post by: Fade1800 on December 10, 2014, 01:53:28 AM
If I have evidence of cheating in an AHA/BJCP sanctioned event, I was wondering what recourse is available for lodging a grievance? I'd appreciate any help that can be provided as to what the protocol is for such an issue. Thanks in advance.
Title: Competition Cheating
Post by: Stevie on December 10, 2014, 01:56:37 AM
Don't tease. What was the offense? What was the result? How'd you figure it out?
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: Fade1800 on December 10, 2014, 02:02:17 AM
I can't reveal the details yet. I'm giving the offending party 24 hours to come clean about what he did before taking this further. After that, I will be stepping it up a notch, which may include going public. I am hoping that the AHA has an official grievance policy I can follow, as I'd like to execute this responsibly.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: denny on December 10, 2014, 02:05:28 AM
I can't reveal the details yet. I'm giving the offending party 24 hours to come clean about what he did before taking this further. After that, I will be stepping it up a notch, which may include going public. I am hoping that the AHA has an official grievance policy I can follow, as I'd like to execute this responsibly.

Unless it's NHC, the AHA doesn't really sanction events. If it's something other than NHC, take it to the BJCP.  If it's NHC, contact Janis Gross at the AHA.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: Fade1800 on December 10, 2014, 02:15:44 AM
I can't reveal the details yet. I'm giving the offending party 24 hours to come clean about what he did before taking this further. After that, I will be stepping it up a notch, which may include going public. I am hoping that the AHA has an official grievance policy I can follow, as I'd like to execute this responsibly.

Unless it's NHC, the AHA doesn't really sanction events. If it's something other than NHC, take it to the BJCP.  If it's NHC, contact Janis Gross at the AHA.

Thanks. I have emailed the BJCP as well to see if I can get some direction.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: Jimmy K on December 10, 2014, 02:50:04 AM
BJCP will likely tell you to contact the competition organizer directly. Unless it's a problem with the entire competition that is.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: flbrewer on December 10, 2014, 08:09:05 PM
Wouldn't most if not all cheating revolve around people bottling commercial beer as their own?
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: Stevie on December 10, 2014, 08:12:49 PM

Wouldn't most if not all cheating revolve around people bottling commercial beer as their own?
Or knowing which entry belongs to which brewer. Maybe entering more beers than allowed for a category?
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: dkfick on December 10, 2014, 08:17:25 PM
It's really a competition based issue.  I would contact the actual competition coordinators and work from there.  Unless the cheating was done by a BJCP judge in the course of judging... Then maybe the BJCP.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: dmtaylor on December 10, 2014, 08:19:17 PM
Wouldn't most if not all cheating revolve around people bottling commercial beer as their own?

[derail NOT intended]

Topic for another day.... I have always wondered how commercial beers would score against homebrews, side by side in a real contest.  I have NOT -- I repeat -- NOT done this in a real sanctioned comp.  But I do always wonder.  Matter of fact, when we do our own informal blind tastings in our local homebrew club, as organizer I always throw in a good well known commercial example to see how our homebrews stack up against the commercial beer.  Results?  After doing this about 4 or 5 times over the years, the commercial beer has never taken first place.  It's often in the top 3 or 4, but never the best example.  Conclusion: Some homebrewers are making some pretty darn good beer.

Disclaimer: Do NOT try this in a real sanctioned competition.  Just do it for fun, with your friends.

[but I digress... sorry...  /derail]
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: jeffy on December 10, 2014, 10:27:53 PM
Another kind of cheating would involve "home team" biases, where the host club tries to get a leg up on the competing clubs in a rivalry by losing an entry here and there.
Mostly, though, I would think cheating involves knowing which beers belong to which brewer.  This is the reason for anonymity in bottle shape and size and blacking out marks on the caps.
I suppose a dishonest steward could influence the outcome, but I've never seen that.  Actually I've seen people request to be stewards on flights they have an entry.  This should be discouraged unless that person is beyond reproach.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: klickitat jim on December 11, 2014, 12:01:49 AM
I could see motivation to cheat if winning meant you could pay off your house with the award money, but in most cases it amounts to a trophy you could buy for less money than shipping the beer costs. Don't cheat, just buy a medal and lie to your buddies.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: HoosierBrew on December 11, 2014, 12:12:52 AM
I agree Jim. Assuming it's true, I think it's lame. Enter the comp, if you got a 25 who gives a damn? Read the feedback and brew it better next time. Beats being a fraud.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: macbrews on December 11, 2014, 03:27:20 AM
Not long ago I judged a California Common that was in an Anchor Steam bottle that tasted remarkably similar to Anchor Steam.  The cap was different but that would easily be changed.  Wasn't sure what to do.  It wasn't a big competition (~80 total beers/meads)  but the prizes were significant ($75).  I gave the brewer the benefit of the doubt and it took first (I did note on the scoresheet that it tasted just like Anchor) .  The same brewer ended up winning/placing in some other categories as well.  Haven't seen his name on any of the other competitions.

I still wonder about if I did the right thing, but it was the best beer.

What would you have done?

Mac
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: JT on December 11, 2014, 03:35:04 AM
Best defense in these cases is a good offense.  Get to know brewers; even, or especially those we don't know or recognize.  It will only help the hobby grow for new brewers and will root out those rarities that are trying to take advantage.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: Jimmy K on December 11, 2014, 01:55:42 PM
Not long ago I judged a California Common that was in an Anchor Steam bottle that tasted remarkably similar to Anchor Steam.  The cap was different but that would easily be changed.  Wasn't sure what to do.  It wasn't a big competition (~80 total beers/meads)  but the prizes were significant ($75).  I gave the brewer the benefit of the doubt and it took first (I did note on the scoresheet that it tasted just like Anchor) .  The same brewer ended up winning/placing in some other categories as well.  Haven't seen his name on any of the other competitions.

I still wonder about if I did the right thing, but it was the best beer.

What would you have done?

Mac
I would rather let a cheater get through than falsely accuse an honest, skilled homebrewer. That would really piss them off and I imagine the bad vibes would spread to their friends too.
 
If you brought it to my attention in my competition, I'd probably make a note and tell you to proceed judging. I don't think that's much evidence of cheating given that cloning commercial examples is fairly common, reusing commercial bottles is very common, and California Common is basically defined as Anchor Steam. The guidelines even say this. So if the goal is 'brew beer that tastes like Anchor Steam' you can't use the fact that it 'tastes like Anchor Steam' as evidence of cheating.
 
The reality is that this sort of cheating would be very difficult to catch and prove. If it were a small club competition and we didn't know the brewer, maybe give them their award and try to reach out. If they're cheating, they'll probably not like the proximity because you'll get to know what kind of beer they really make.
 
I also think entering commercial beers is less likely to be successful than people think. Commercial beer isn't always to style and may be influenced by factors such as supply contracts, process limitations, etc. It also may not be at peak freshness.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 11, 2014, 02:17:38 PM
Not long ago I judged a California Common that was in an Anchor Steam bottle that tasted remarkably similar to Anchor Steam.  The cap was different but that would easily be changed.  Wasn't sure what to do.  It wasn't a big competition (~80 total beers/meads)  but the prizes were significant ($75).  I gave the brewer the benefit of the doubt and it took first (I did note on the scoresheet that it tasted just like Anchor) .  The same brewer ended up winning/placing in some other categories as well.  Haven't seen his name on any of the other competitions.

I still wonder about if I did the right thing, but it was the best beer.

What would you have done?

Mac
I would rather let a cheater get through than falsely accuse an honest, skilled homebrewer. That would really piss them off and I imagine the bad vibes would spread to their friends too.
 
If you brought it to my attention in my competition, I'd probably make a note and tell you to proceed judging. I don't think that's much evidence of cheating given that cloning commercial examples is fairly common, reusing commercial bottles is very common, and California Common is basically defined as Anchor Steam. The guidelines even say this. So if the goal is 'brew beer that tastes like Anchor Steam' you can't use the fact that it 'tastes like Anchor Steam' as evidence of cheating.
 
The reality is that this sort of cheating would be very difficult to catch and prove. If it were a small club competition and we didn't know the brewer, maybe give them their award and try to reach out. If they're cheating, they'll probably not like the proximity because you'll get to know what kind of beer they really make.
 
I also think entering commercial beers is less likely to be successful than people think. Commercial beer isn't always to style and may be influenced by factors such as supply contracts, process limitations, etc. It also may not be at peak freshness.

You summed it up nicely Jimmy.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: macbrews on December 11, 2014, 02:26:54 PM
I would rather let a cheater get through than falsely accuse an honest, skilled homebrewer. That would really piss them off and I imagine the bad vibes would spread to their friends too.

This is exactly why I didn't do anything.  Depending on which category he fell, my comment about how much it tasted like Anchor was to either compliment him, or if he was cheating, let him know.
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: klickitat jim on December 11, 2014, 02:49:37 PM
I think it would be awesome to have a wall of medals and one framed judging sheet from a grand master stating I was disqualified for cheating because my beer was too good to be true LOL. Can't imagine getting too pissed about that one
Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: braufessor on December 11, 2014, 04:26:00 PM
I think it would be awesome to have a wall of medals and one framed judging sheet from a grand master stating I was disqualified for cheating because my beer was too good to be true LOL. Can't imagine getting too pissed about that one

Ha!  That is true.

And, on the flip side, I can't imagine having medals on the wall and looking at them and thinking:  "I am really good at recapping commercial beer :o" (Or, in some other way, tricking people into thinking my beer is better than it really is) Just don't quite understand that..... ultimately, you and anyone you serve your beer to knows what it tastes like. 
But, there are all kinds out there.  If someone needs self-affirmation bad enough to cheat in a homebrew competition, they need the medal more than most do I guess ???

Title: Re: Competition Cheating
Post by: yso191 on December 11, 2014, 07:00:04 PM
I think it would be awesome to have a wall of medals and one framed judging sheet from a grand master stating I was disqualified for cheating because my beer was too good to be true LOL. Can't imagine getting too pissed about that one

Ha!  I think I would have arrows pointing to it.  That would be a treasure for sure.