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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: mabrungard on April 24, 2011, 07:35:28 PM

Title: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: mabrungard on April 24, 2011, 07:35:28 PM
I just finished up a 4 day run of judging for the NHC Indy Regional.  I have to say that I'm dissappointed and am ranting to get the ball rolling on things that MUST change regarding the fees charged and support provided by AHA for the NHC.  

Needless to say, NHC is a huge undertaking.  Through the hard work of hundreds of judges, stewards, organizers, and sponsors, it does get done.  The problem that is occuring is that there isn't enough support provided to the people that run and organize these contests and the popularity of the NHC continues to grow.  Clearly, the law of supply and demand is not being followed and its time to comment on it.  

At many of the regional competitions, the pool of highly qualified judges in a locality is limited and getting additional judges from the region is needed.  I was very pleased to see judges at the Indy Regional that traveled up to 6 hours to participate.  My hat was off to them!  But I wouldn't have traveled that far for the lunch and door prize that they recieved.  The few judge experience points are poor compensation for the hundreds of dollars that some of those judges probably shelled out for travel, lodging, and meal expenses.  There needs to be a significant change to the program to correct that.  

In talking with Janice (NHC Coordinator) over the years, I know that the contest is expensive as is and that is with the limited support they currently provide to the regional contests.  The popularity of the contest is unquestioned, as the entry quotas are exhausted in short order.  Given the need for additional support at the regional contests, the costs to run the competition are going to rise significantly. Therefore, the entry fees need a commensurate increase.  

Judges traveling more than about 50 miles need to be compensated for their travel and other expenses to make it worth their while to make the trip.  Before too long, the only judges showing up will be the locals and they will have to deal with the 750 entry pool themselves.  See how long any of those overworked local judges stick in there after they have spent days at the contest.  Then you won't even have the locals participating.  

In my opinion, a daily stipend for judges traveling over (50?) miles is needed now.  Those are the folks that are critical to the contest execution and they are too far from home to make the drive back after a couple of sessions.  They are footing their bill for travel and lodging and the contestants need to be paying for that.  In addition, better meal support needs to be provided.  A single lunch is not cutting it.  If its a full day of judging, then at least 2 meals need to be provided.  If its just a half day of judging, then a single meal should be provided.  

These incentives only serve to offset the cost of judging and organizer participation since there will always be the significant contribution of time that would be hard to equitably compensate.  The potential is that the entry fees for NHC could easily double. Given the popularity of the event, it may not make a dent in the entry numbers.  But at least there would be higher likelihood that an adequate number of qualified judges would show up.  If these changes are not implimented, there is the distinct possibility that NHC Regional contests could fail (ie. not enough judges show up to complete the contest in a timely manner).  

Again, my hat is off to you hardy souls that contributed your time and money to participate as an organizer or judge in the NHC.  You have gone above and beyond.  That needs to change!

PS: These same arguments apply to any local contest too.  Organizers, If you're wondering why you can't get judges to participate, you need to make it somewhat worth their while.  The days of the low entry fee are over.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: denny on April 24, 2011, 08:27:44 PM
Martin, you make some valid points.  I sent an email to the AHA and the GC competition committee to see if someone would weigh in.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tumarkin on April 25, 2011, 01:19:44 AM
there was a thread on our forum recently that brought up the idea of raising comp entry fees and using that money to provide at least a minimal stipend to out of town judges. there's a lot of merit to that idea.

re the NHC (but this applies to many comps that are drawing increased entries)....
Data -
raising number of entries, maxing out entrance cap in fairly short order
not enough judges, requiring extra judging sessions, overworking the judges that show up (remember this is all on a volunteer basis)

if entry fees are raised there's a likelihood that it will have a negative impact on number of entries. I say negative in the sense of potential reduced entries. but if we're trying to give good feedback & constructive criticism to the entrants, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

if the increase in entry fees is used to provide a stipend to judges, this is certainly likely to increase the number of judges willing to travel to help at competitions.

THIS IS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME........ LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN

as Martin points out, if nothing is done it will lead to an inevitable down turn in number of judges available to judge increased entries. this is a train wreck scenario. let's do something to improve the situation.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tygo on April 25, 2011, 01:27:50 AM
I think the idea of helping to offset the cost of judges time, travel, and meal expenses is a good one.  And obviously, as Martin points out, that would necessitate raising the entry fees.  However, before you double the fees you might want to get some additional "market information" about the entrants price tolerance.

Just speaking for myself I don't think $9 per entry is out of line at all.  Would I pay $12?  Absolutely.  Would I pay $15?  Maybe.  Would I pay $18?  I'm not sure that I would.  I entered 3 beers this year and with shipping that'd cost me $75 to enter the first round.  That's a bit steep perhaps.

Or perhaps not.  As long as there are enough people to fill, or mostly fill, the competition quotas, then the price point is not too high.  The goal is to maximize revenue while providing a quality product (judging and feedback).  Perhaps this would be a good question to include in the annual AHA survey to get some additional data.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 25, 2011, 01:29:18 AM
The NHC could easily provide $50 stipends to judges travelling more than 50 miles with the existing entry fees based on conservative back of the envelope calculations.

I'm sure someone will say I am wrong but they won't back it up with detailed accounting of where 6750*9 - 9*(number of BOS free entry codes) + 5*(number of $14 entries) - 9*($1600 expense reimbursement to each first round site) goes.

Let's go to a two bottle entry. That will suppress entry numbers, provide better quality judging (no judging mini-bos with bottles open for 12 hours like happened this year or 3 hours as happens at every site every year), and since the bottleneck is judging and not sorting the sites should be able to handle it. It seems like the primary goal for the last several years has been ratcheting up the number of entries. I think it is time to question the wisdom of that approach.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: markaberrant on April 25, 2011, 02:59:25 PM
Very good discussion, it is always good to evaluate how you are doing things to see if there is an opportunity to improve.

In regards to paying judges, I think that could be a somewhat slippery slope.  You may get judges coming who just want a "free trip."  There would also need to be more quality assurance - if you are paying judges (and likely increasing entry fees), then they better be good.

We run things a lot different for the Canadian Qualifier (sort of like a small scale, mini-NHC for Canada, entries are nowhere near 750), but our out of town judges are offered billeting, we provide a couple of meals, and there is a Volunteer Appreciation Night which is sponsored by a local Gastro Pub and regional Craft Brewer.  Based on history and feedback, our out of town judges go home totally thrilled with the experience and can't wait to come back next year.

I will throw out another idea - maybe there needs to be 3 rounds for the NHC - Local/Regional/National - this would lighten the load at the Regional level, which seems to be the bottleneck at this point.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 03:10:33 PM
Compensation for judges who must travel some distance to be there would be nice, but you'd have to be very careful with how it's implemented - and would a corresponding entry fee increase be required in some areas to offset the cost of compensating the judges?

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: theDarkSide on April 25, 2011, 03:14:27 PM
How are the competition sites selected?  Is there an analysis to determine if the site location is in close proximity to a high concentration area of judges?

I realize someone has to take the ball and set it up, secure a location, etc. but if travel can be minimized it may help.

As far as raising the fees, I doubt I would submit any entries if it was above $10 per entry, but that is just me. I can't imagine the impact on the people who prepare all year and submit 15-20+ entries. 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tygo on April 25, 2011, 03:48:19 PM
I can't imagine the impact on the people who prepare all year and submit 15-20+ entries. 

In that scenario those people might decide to submit less entries which would also serve to lighten the load on the regional competitions.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: richardt on April 25, 2011, 04:22:09 PM
Edited for brevity:

At many of the regional competitions, the pool of highly qualified judges in a locality is limited and getting additional judges from the region is needed...  
Before too long, the only judges showing up will be the locals and they will have to deal with the 750 entry pool themselves... 
...there is the distinct possibility that NHC Regional contests could fail (ie. not enough judges show up to complete the contest in a timely manner).
...These same arguments apply to any local contest too.  Organizers, If you're wondering why you can't get judges to participate, you need to make it somewhat worth their while.

I think the key issue is an undersupply of "qualified judges"--there are at least two causes for this.
One reason , as Martin identified, the personal cost to each individual judge (hotel, driving, meals, time away from family, etc) is not insignificant and presents a big barrier.
The second reason, and this is just my personal opinion, is the limited quality of the judges at some of the competitions.  The BJCP exams are limited (12 seats per exam, infrequently given, very difficult format, long turn-around to get results, with limited emphasis on the sensory aspect of the formal BJCP exam , yet it is the most important part of the judge's abilities to critically assess and render fair scores and valuble feedback during actual competitions).  I've commented elsewhere in this forum for a move towards multiple choice questions for the written format (to thoroughly assess the candidate's knowledge base)--it is the format that nearly every professional body uses to assess the members of its society for licensure or board-certification, etc.  I'd also like more training and weight be given for sensory training and "practical" evaluations of beers.  In my view, it is this skill that needs to be more rigorously developed and fairly assessed. 
I'm sure we all have judging stories to tell about having to churn through a flight of meads in an hour to get everything done by the end of the competition.  This annoys me (as I don't like ripping through a flight like that as a judge), nor do I think it is fair to the efforts of each individual homebrewer who took the time, expense, and effort to submit the beer/mead.  It is also an interesting phenomenon to note that we may have planned to judge a flight or two or three, but socializing and using the hospitality room tends to have a tendency during the acual competition to cull the pool of available judges, as well.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: dbeechum on April 25, 2011, 05:10:20 PM
I can tell you that the BJCP exam is undergoing some work to make things faster.

The big problem for the BJCP is the availability of exam graders. Think the availability of judges is a problem? Try finding judges ranked national and above who have the time and willingness to volunteer 4-5 hours grading an exam in batches of 12 at a time.

We have one competition around here that pays judges, but it's a commercial competition and for reasons I can't explain, it makes me uncomfortable.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: udubdawg on April 25, 2011, 05:16:04 PM
just a couple thoughts:

I judge because I love it, because I need/want the experience, because it helps my own brewing, and I don't really need compensation of any kind.  Discounted blocks of hotel rooms are always nice though.  Someone crafted this beer, and I feel lucky that they're willing to share and are interested in my feedback.

second, although there's really no better way to do it, making sure you're having competitions where there's big populations of judges is a bit circular.  Are the competitions there because there are a lot of judges?  Or are there a lot of judges in the area because there are a lot of competitions? 

On that note I can't think of a single competition within 2 hours of my home, though thankfully there's a couple within 3 hours.  Two weeks ago I gladly drove 6 hours to Ft Worth to help them judge, and I hope I did justice to all the effort people made to brew those beers and send them out for review.  Judging in Denver is 8 hours away.  Last summer I gladly drove 700 miles to judge in Indianapolis as I enjoy the well-run Brewer's Cup competition.  It's a hobby, and as such I fit vacations around my beer schedule or combine the two.

Some of the individual NHC first round locations could be a lot better organized.  Way too many people sauntering into the room in Texas over a 4 hour period "OK, I'm here, and I'm ready to judge!"  Commit to showing up at a certain time and follow through with it.  And on the organizer's side, the morning of such a large competition isn't the best time to be figuring out judging assignments.

Basically, I love beer. It's frickin' awesome!
Asking to be paid for doing this makes me feel like a greedy a-hole. 
But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

(tried for my two cents worth; I'd say I got at least halfway there.)

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: MDixon on April 25, 2011, 05:44:19 PM
As someone who was a past judge director for our region I can tell you it is a buttload of work to host unless you have a team on board. Our problem was we tried to handle everything with the local club and our club was burned out from our own competition so two of us made it happen. In order to pull it off we judged in two cities simultaneously, then another date in one city and then some additional judging sessions just to finish.

As far as paying judges, if you ain't got the time, you ain't got the time. This year I would have had to travel 8+ hours to assist and didn't have the time anyway. $50 wouldn't begin to cover the expenses associated with helping out...now if it were 2 hours down the road, $50 would be a huge amount to receive...I'm like Drew, kinda makes me uneasy hearing thoughts on getting paid. I could see getting reimbursed for a particular expense, but not an across the line payment...
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tomsawyer on April 25, 2011, 06:13:00 PM
I agree with the point Richardt made regarding the emphasis of the exam.  I sat for it for the first time last year, and subsequently judged in my first two contests.  Since you get to use the BJCP Guidelines during judging, I really don't see why its so important to have committed a large part of that to memory.  On the other hand, having a decent list of adjectives at your disposal and enough sensory training to put them to use properly, is most important.  Its not that I think just anybody can be a decent judge, but I do think that we could get more people qualified and there certainly seems to be a lot of interest at this time.  I think the BJCP should capitalize on this.

I'm with you Michael, my wife and I schedule little mini-vacations around these events and it is a good time.  I live 100 miles from any major city so I'd certainly take $50/day but not having it wouldn't impede my volunteering.  Its more a matter of time than money that keeps me from doing more than one every few months.

As to the original viewpoint, I could see basing the amount of the stipend on the qualifications of the judge.  Say $25 for Recognized and Certified, $50 for National and GM.  That would be an incentive to move up in rank.  I would also think that experience in terms of number of events judged, should come into play in your rank at some point.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 06:14:28 PM
I will be devoting my time to judge/help at most events in the Puget Sound area - but, then again, this is not one of the areas where finding enough judges is as big of an issue as it is in other areas of the country. 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 25, 2011, 06:44:37 PM
Put me on the list of people uncomfortable with paying judges, however I am very comfortable with supplying more food, throwing an after party, finding places for out-of-towners to sleep, etc.  There can be perks without there being cash changing hands.

As for the exam, here is the statement from the BJCP website http://www.bjcp.org/index.php
Quote
April 2011
#
New Exam Program Announced

The BJCP Board, with full support of the Exam Directors, unaminously approved a new structure for the BJCP Exam Program. The key feature of the new program is a new introductory exam, which will allow new members to quickly become qualified as judges. Changes to existing exams will also be made. Full details are in the approved proposal.

The current program remains in effect until the new exam question pool is complete, and the new format field tested. We expect this project to take at least until the end of 2011 to finish, but it has advanced far enough to be formally announced. More information will be released as the project completes internal milestones.

This is an informational announcement only. Current and prospective judges should continue interacting with the exam program under existing rules and procedures until the new program is formally launched.

Here is a link to the proposed new structure the BJCP is working on.
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/newexam.pdf

In short:
There will be web based introductory exam that you have to pass before you can take the tasting, and unlimited numbers of people can take that exam.
The tasting will be 6 beers instead of 4, with no limits on how many can take this tasting exam.  This new tasting exam will replace all tasting exams.
Your rank is determined by your tasting score alone for apprentice, recognized or certified only.
If you have a national score on the tasting and enough experience points, you are allowed to register to take the full written exam.

This will really reduce the grading load and get more judges in the pool.  The 6 beer exam also gives the graders a better look at a person's judging skills.

I think this will be a big improvement, and I'm really glad the BJCP is moving in this direction.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: udubdawg on April 25, 2011, 06:55:42 PM
I must say that I definitely support compensating proctors to come to your town to administer an exam if none are nearby.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent, but I like the changes to the BJCP exam coming up.  Online exam to show you have some proficiency.  Then a significant tasting test to become a Recognized/Certified judge.  And finally a big sit-down test to get to that top 10% or so of judges.  Makes a lot of sense, and I applaud the changes.  
Now if only they had style guidelines available during the tasting exam.  But that's another topic...

cheers--
--Michael

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 07:12:07 PM
Put me on the list of people uncomfortable with paying judges, however I am very comfortable with supplying more food, throwing an after party, finding places for out-of-towners to sleep, etc.  There can be perks without there being cash changing hands.

As for the exam, here is the statement from the BJCP website http://www.bjcp.org/index.php
Quote
April 2011
#
New Exam Program Announced

The BJCP Board, with full support of the Exam Directors, unaminously approved a new structure for the BJCP Exam Program. The key feature of the new program is a new introductory exam, which will allow new members to quickly become qualified as judges. Changes to existing exams will also be made. Full details are in the approved proposal.

The current program remains in effect until the new exam question pool is complete, and the new format field tested. We expect this project to take at least until the end of 2011 to finish, but it has advanced far enough to be formally announced. More information will be released as the project completes internal milestones.

This is an informational announcement only. Current and prospective judges should continue interacting with the exam program under existing rules and procedures until the new program is formally launched.

Here is a link to the proposed new structure the BJCP is working on.
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/newexam.pdf

In short:
There will be web based introductory exam that you have to pass before you can take the tasting, and unlimited numbers of people can take that exam.
The tasting will be 6 beers instead of 4, with no limits on how many can take this tasting exam.  This new tasting exam will replace all tasting exams.
Your rank is determined by your tasting score alone for apprentice, recognized or certified only.
If you have a national score on the tasting and enough experience points, you are allowed to register to take the full written exam.

This will really reduce the grading load and get more judges in the pool.  The 6 beer exam also gives the graders a better look at a person's judging skills.

I think this will be a big improvement, and I'm really glad the BJCP is moving in this direction.

I agree w/ what you said about food/rides/places to stay/etc. 


As for the exam.  Those changes could seriously impact my exam.  The November 2011 exam around here is currently full (I'm on the waiting list), but if I can't get in there, I plan to test in Portland in February. 

Will changes be made to the exam structure between November & February?  What type of impact could this have on any BJCP Exam classes?  I'm signed up for the one in Issaquah starting in August. 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 25, 2011, 07:17:28 PM
I don't know when the changes will actually take effect, it depends on how quickly it all gets done and tested.  There might be enough critical mass to get it all done by the first of the year, but you never know for sure.

You'll want to take the class anyway, it will really help with the tasting exam.  Talk to Steve if you have any concerns, he knows about the new exam plans.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 07:24:36 PM
I don't know when the changes will actually take effect, it depends on how quickly it all gets done and tested.  There might be enough critical mass to get it all done by the first of the year, but you never know for sure.

You'll want to take the class anyway, it will really help with the tasting exam.  Talk to Steve if you have any concerns, he knows about the new exam plans.

Oh, I plan to.  In fact, I guess I'll just continue to plan for the existing exam.  That'll get me ready - and if this new exam shows up before I test, that'll be fine too - I'll still be ready.  :)   
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 25, 2011, 07:29:21 PM
Exactly.  It's not like you don't still need to know the material for the new exam.  It's still an exam, not a formality.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: mabrungard on April 25, 2011, 08:00:32 PM
The term 'paying' shouldn't be the operative term here.  There is no way that a competition could pay what it takes in terms of time and travel expenses.  Defraying the very real costs for judges to participate is hardly what I would call paying.  But, hopefully the reimbursement of those expenses will help a judge decide that they are valued at the contest.  Its the out of towners that need the incentive, not folks like me that drove 15 miles.  It really cost them something and I appreciate that they were willing to help out.

Drew, I am totally confused as to why you would have a problem with being paid.  The competition is paying, not the person who's beer is in front of you.  (OK, they really are with their entry fee, but they don't know you from Pete!)  I too would have a problem with payment if someone was tapping me on the shoulder and slipping me a fiver for placing their beer.  Fortunately the way we run competitions, there is no way a judge or contestant could know whose beer we're judging at any time.  Only after the smoke clears and the winners are announced!  The Brewer's Cup competition paid me $100 as an out of town judge 2 years ago for traveling over 100 miles to attend all sessions.  I don't feel violated nor do I feel I was compromised.
 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 08:06:58 PM
Drew, I am totally confused as to why you would have a problem with being paid.  The competition is paying, not the person who's beer is in front of you.  (OK, they really are with their entry fee, but they don't know you from Pete!)  I too would have a problem with payment if someone was tapping me on the shoulder and slipping me a fiver for placing their beer.
I don't think that's what he was saying.  It's not 'payola'.  However, instituting a program whereby judges who travel fartehr to be there to judge get 'paid' can be s slippery slope.  What happens if so many judges come from a distance that competition entry fees don't cover what you want to pay the judges.  Who pays them then? 

Good for you that you got paid that $100, but I don't think it should be something the Homebrewer's Association should pursue.  If they do, they'll have to have a grocery list of caveats & exemptions, etc. 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: hgulbransen on April 25, 2011, 08:11:17 PM
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  With fewer entries, the accute need for more qualified judges goes down.  If the cap is lowered then there will need to be additional regions added to take up the slack, but this is costly.  One comment about the cost analysis of the NHC was flawed in that most regions actually cost the the AHA more like $2,000 - $2,400.  there was also no mention in the analysis of the costs for the second round of judging as well as the costs to mail out prizes and a significant number of certificates.  Believe me, at $9.00 an entry, the AHA is not making any money.  the entry fee was raised 2 years ago just to hit the break even point.

As chairman of the AHA's competition subcommittee I promise you we will discuss all the points raised by the membership.  Please understand this is not a money making proposition for the AHA, it should be viewed as a service the AHA and the enormous number of volunteers who work the NHC provide the membership.  We are listening, but there are some very real problems that arise in this competition [due to it's unprecidented size] that are not seen in other competitions.  We're not going to please everyone, but we are trying.  This is uncharted water remember, who ever heard of a homebrew competition with something like 7,000 entries??

Keep the ideas coming,
Harold Gulbransen
AHA Gov Comm Competition subcommittee
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 25, 2011, 08:18:36 PM
Perhaps a possible solution would be to limit the number of entries that can be received per region.  Basically, you'd have to register online somewhere before sending your entries in - to make sure you get in before the cutoff. 

Then, those who don't make it in time could try submitting their entries to a different judging region - one that, perhaps, has more judges to handle the higher volume of beers to be judged.

I'm just thinkin' out loud...
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 25, 2011, 08:27:34 PM
Perhaps a possible solution would be to limit the number of entries that can be received per region.  Basically, you'd have to register online somewhere before sending your entries in - to make sure you get in before the cutoff.  

Then, those who don't make it in time could try submitting their entries to a different judging region - one that, perhaps, has more judges to handle the higher volume of beers to be judged.

I'm just thinkin' out loud...
You realize that is exactly what was done this year, right?  Each region was capped at 750 entries.

There may be the possibility of having different limits in different regions depending on the local judge pool, but that is another layer of complexity and potential problems.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: theDarkSide on April 25, 2011, 08:32:16 PM
There may be the possibility of having different limits in different regions depending on the local judge pool, but that is another layer of complexity and potential problems.

As I've said before, expect the PNW to fill up really quick next year if the rules are kept the same way.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: dbeechum on April 25, 2011, 08:34:09 PM
Drew, I am totally confused as to why you would have a problem with being paid. 

Actually, my objection has always centered around the haves of the competition world getting a leg up on the smaller poorer comps. Aka - building up the whole idea "why should I judge some place that can't offer me anything"
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: udubdawg on April 25, 2011, 08:47:40 PM
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  


I have no doubt that this is true in some cases.  In DFW's case they can clearly judge 1800 Bluebonnet Brew-off beers so I assume they were just burnt out after that.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 25, 2011, 09:41:11 PM
What about raising the entry fee for all entries over a certain limit?  That might help offset high numbers of entries.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 25, 2011, 09:41:55 PM
There may be the possibility of having different limits in different regions depending on the local judge pool, but that is another layer of complexity and potential problems.

As I've said before, expect the PNW to fill up really quick next year if the rules are kept the same way.
Why, so people can get their results faster?  We judged the first weekend we could this year specifically because of other events we had going on, that might not be the case next year.  So even if we finish in one weekend, it could very well be the last weekend possible for judging.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 25, 2011, 09:56:51 PM
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  With fewer entries, the accute need for more qualified judges goes down.  If the cap is lowered then there will need to be additional regions added to take up the slack, but this is costly.  One comment about the cost analysis of the NHC was flawed in that most regions actually cost the the AHA more like $2,000 - $2,400.  there was also no mention in the analysis of the costs for the second round of judging as well as the costs to mail out prizes and a significant number of certificates.  Believe me, at $9.00 an entry, the AHA is not making any money.  the entry fee was raised 2 years ago just to hit the break even point.

As chairman of the AHA's competition subcommittee I promise you we will discuss all the points raised by the membership.  Please understand this is not a money making proposition for the AHA, it should be viewed as a service the AHA and the enormous number of volunteers who work the NHC provide the membership.  We are listening, but there are some very real problems that arise in this competition [due to it's unprecidented size] that are not seen in other competitions.  We're not going to please everyone, but we are trying.  This is uncharted water remember, who ever heard of a homebrew competition with something like 7,000 entries??

Keep the ideas coming,
Harold Gulbransen
AHA Gov Comm Competition subcommittee

Harold,

I would be happy to see an itemized list of revenue and expenses related to the competition. I've run a 400+ entry competition that shipped prizes etc and we presented this info to our club members and I don't see why the AHA can't do the same. If $9 an entry results in zero bottom line and people calling to double entry fees so we can compensate judges perhaps we can find some efficiencies to be had if the membership can scrutinize how the money is being spent. Off the top of my head, if the certificates are so expensive to produce and ship that they warrant being on the short list of things that explain how several tens of thousands of dollars are spent after the first round, then may we could discontinue those as an alternative to raising entry fees. Additionally if we look at why some regions cost 50% more than others maybe that would give us some ideas on how to keep down costs.

In lieu of any transparency surrounding the finances of the competition can I ask a direct question? Does part of the competition revenue pay for AHA staff salaries? That would explain how you get from a really big number to zero a lot better than "shipping prizes and certificates".

More generally to the thread. I strongly oppose cash payments but if any competition including the NHC can afford to directly provide something that travel requires and the judge would otherwise pay for then that is great. Hotel rooms are the obvious candidate. Personally $50 would never factor in to my decision to judge or not, even if you were asking me to drive across town. I think if you can spend a little money to make the experience fun or unique for the judges that may go further than direct reimbursements. Another option for the NHC in particular would be Conference discounts or free entries to the next years competition tied to judging/stewarding/organizing.

And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry. This clearly would increase the quality of the competition and would probably have the effect of suppressing entries too.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: jeffy on April 25, 2011, 10:04:49 PM
One comment about the cost analysis of the NHC was flawed in that most regions actually cost the the AHA more like $2,000 - $2,400.
Keep the ideas coming,
Harold Gulbransen
AHA Gov Comm Competition subcommittee
Thanks for chiming in, Harold.
What costs that much in a regional competition?  Not the forms or the pencils or the cups.  Probably not the lunches.  Mailing can't be too much.  Not the judges or the organizers because they volunteer their time.   Is it the venue?  Or are you including the cost of a portion of the AHA staff?
If our local (state wide) competition cost that much we'd never survive.
Just curious, not doubting you.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: ccarlson on April 25, 2011, 10:14:04 PM
I'd also like to see the breakdown of competition costs. I can't imagine getting even close to $2000 dollars for a competition where there are entry fees collected.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: dbeechum on April 25, 2011, 10:25:35 PM
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 25, 2011, 11:30:13 PM
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

Honestly once you have the bottles sorted, do they really take up that much space (I've seen 900, I can extrapolate to 1500)? Maybe we should look harder for sites instead of sacrificing quality.

I guess I'll put it this way. Does anyone want to defend the NY situation as anything other than a horrible judging situation? Does anyone have a better idea to prevent it from happening again?
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tom on April 26, 2011, 12:40:32 AM
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

Honestly once you have the bottles sorted, do they really take up that much space (I've seen 900, I can extrapolate to 1500)? Maybe we should look harder for sites instead of sacrificing quality.

I guess I'll put it this way. Does anyone want to defend the NY situation as anything other than a horrible judging situation? Does anyone have a better idea to prevent it from happening again?
+1, I think we had less than 5 categories that didn't need a mini-BOS
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: markaberrant on April 26, 2011, 01:02:49 AM
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  With fewer entries, the accute need for more qualified judges goes down.  If the cap is lowered then there will need to be additional regions added to take up the slack, but this is costly.

Again, I suggest 3 rounds.  Though it would require more overall coordination, you can spread out the first round judging to more sites, which would lighten number of entries advancing to the 2nd round regionals.  Increasing fees, capping number of entries or asking for more bottles simply act as artificial barriers, instead of allowing the competition to grow organically.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: markaberrant on April 26, 2011, 01:04:15 AM
As for the exam, here is the statement from the BJCP website http://www.bjcp.org/index.php

April 2011
#
New Exam Program Announced

Here is a link to the proposed new structure the BJCP is working on.
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/newexam.pdf

In short:
There will be web based introductory exam that you have to pass before you can take the tasting, and unlimited numbers of people can take that exam.
The tasting will be 6 beers instead of 4, with no limits on how many can take this tasting exam.  This new tasting exam will replace all tasting exams.
Your rank is determined by your tasting score alone for apprentice, recognized or certified only.
If you have a national score on the tasting and enough experience points, you are allowed to register to take the full written exam.

This will really reduce the grading load and get more judges in the pool.  The 6 beer exam also gives the graders a better look at a person's judging skills.

I think this will be a big improvement, and I'm really glad the BJCP is moving in this direction.

I need to go read the details, but this is EXACTLY what I suggested a year or two ago!  Huzzah!!!

Not to imply I deserve any credit, I am just stoked beause I think this is exactly what the Program needs to do.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: hgulbransen on April 26, 2011, 02:24:12 AM
Great comments everyone, I'll try to answer some of the questions raised here:

in terms of 2 bottles, johnf raises some excellent points about 2 bottles and the quality of the competition.  We are sensitive to this issue and it has been raised every year that I have been on the Gov Committee.  The problem we have is, many regions can't handle 1500 bottles arriving and storing them.  many regions do not receive entries and judge in the same location, so the bottles need to be transported to the judging site.  I am concerned about johnf's comment that beers were stored overnight before mini-BOS judging the next day.  this is clearly not optimal.  We will definitely consider this issue again after the second round is completed. 

johnf also asked about the cost of shipping certificates and prizes - again we can look at the specific costs of this and cutting back here in lieu of raising entry fees seems quite reasonable.

Jeffy asks about the costs of running a first round judging site.  I have personally been a first round organizer 3 times over the last 10 years and our region has run right around $2,000 - $2,400 in that time.  We have costs for beer storage, judging site rental, 3 meals [we judge on a Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon] - so we do one dinner, a light breakfast and a lunch.  This is for approx 80 people each day [60 - 65 judges and 15 or so stewards].  Postage to mail out score sheets can be over $200.  Cups - for 750 entries and mini-BOS panels for nearly every category one needs almost 3,000 cups. etc. etc, You get the idea, all these expenses total out to a pretty big number pretty quickly.

For second round judging a breakfast and lunch are provided to the judges and this is typically done in the conference hotel, which is much more costly than the way the first round sites can feed their judges.

Markaberrant raises an excellent point of having more smaller first round sites proceeding to regionals, then on to a final round.  I’ve thought about this myself for some time now.  We’ll discuss this in the subcommittee but again the problem is locating enough first round sites, the competition would need to start 2 months earlier [as this makes the competition a 3 tiered comp] and the added costs of multiple sites may not pencil out, but this is an excellent suggestion for revamping the entire competition, thanks.

I'm beginning to get too long winded here, suffice it to say a big part of the problem is the enormous size of this competition which cannot be run solely by volunteers, it requires AHA staff time to locate suitable judging centers and to field all the questions from entrants, support the database, etc.  Due to the size of this competition it doesn't scale up linearly from a local club competition that has 400 entries, it's much more complicated, time consuming and costly to run.

Again, keep the suggestions coming, we are listening.

Harold Gulbransen

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bluesman on April 26, 2011, 03:02:38 AM

I'm beginning to get too long winded here, suffice it to say a big part of the problem is the enormous size of this competition which cannot be run solely by volunteers, it requires AHA staff time to locate suitable judging centers and to field all the questions from entrants, support the database, etc.  Due to the size of this competition it doesn't scale up linearly from a local club competition that has 400 entries, it's much more complicated, time consuming and costly to run.

Again, keep the suggestions coming, we are listening.

Harold Gulbransen



I think the bottleneck for the most part is the availability of judges. I agree with Martin in the sense that some level of compensation will entice judges to travel further and ultimately attract more judges. I also think that the location of the competition has a tremendous impact on the ability to procure qualified judges. The bigger the city, the larger the judging pool and so forth.

With the increasing level of interest in hombrewing as a hobby, there is also an increasing interest in competing as can be witnessed by the increasing number of entries each year. I see this as a positive as opposed the other extreme. I think that by focusing on the demographics, specifically the highest incidence of judges by location, this will help draw more judges to volunteer for competition.

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 26, 2011, 06:44:06 AM
Speaking strictly for myself . . .

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.
Obviously this shouldn't happen, and I think it is more a matter of educating the organizer than anything else.  If a mini-bos is going to be required, those entries all need to be judged in the same session with the mini-bos immediately following.  It still doesn't solve the problem of having the first beer open so long, but it is better.

I think the bottleneck for the most part is the availability of judges. I agree with Martin in the sense that some level of compensation will entice judges to travel further and ultimately attract more judges.
I just disagree, but that's my opinion.  No reasonable amount of compensation is going to entice me to come to a competition.  Now if there is a party, a rare beer tasting after, something along those lines . . . then I'll make a serious effort to attend, maybe rearrange my schedule.  Money isn't going to entice me if it doesn't fit my schedule.

Rather than offer $50 here and there to cover transportation costs, spend a few hundred dollars on beer.  Get a keg or a few cases of something rare and serve it to the judges after (and provide designated drivers) and I think it will be cheaper and more enticing for judges than some money.  But again, that's just me.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: phillamb168 on April 26, 2011, 08:37:19 AM
What about a tiered per-bottle entry fee? First bottle submitted is gratis if you're an AHA member. Second bottle is $10. Third bottle is $15, Fourth bottle is $20, fifth is $25, etc. By submitting loads of bottles a person is putting a bigger load on the judges, and they should be expected to pay to offset that load.

I think you'd get better submissions with a system like that, and it's a way to 'raise' the entry fees without excluding people who can't afford an outright cost increase.

In terms of compensation, I think non-monetary compensation would be excellent. Free food (perhaps a cook-off or pot luck? Those are always fun) and a hotel room if you travel farther than X miles. For people traveling less than X miles but more than Y miles, they get a gas card or something similar.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 26, 2011, 11:19:54 AM

I just disagree, but that's my opinion.  No reasonable amount of compensation is going to entice me to come to a competition.  Now if there is a party, a rare beer tasting after, something along those lines . . . then I'll make a serious effort to attend, maybe rearrange my schedule.  Money isn't going to entice me if it doesn't fit my schedule.

Rather than offer $50 here and there to cover transportation costs, spend a few hundred dollars on beer.  Get a keg or a few cases of something rare and serve it to the judges after (and provide designated drivers) and I think it will be cheaper and more enticing for judges than some money.  But again, that's just me.

I agree 100%. There may be some judges for whom $50 makes or breaks the decision but ultimately if you want to change my decision, give me something I can't get at home (rare beers, poorly distributed local beers, talks). I have $50 at home. Instead of the 3 of us that think we need to give judges cash reimbursement to encourage participation arguing with the three of us that think perquisites would be better going back and forth forever, maybe someone should put together a survey and email it to some judges and ask them what would best influence them to travel to judge.

Also I'll throw in that in some cities, particularly Dallas, the problem was getting the local judges. Maybe that can't be fixed in Dallas with the timing of Blue Bonnet (which probably makes Dallas a non-viable first round site) but you have to solve the problem of getting people down the street to judge before you consider getting people from out of state to be your primary problem.

Thanks for being receptive Harold. I guess ultimately I would like that rather than adding more sites and raising interest fees that it would be better to go back to the drawing board and restate what the AHA values in terms of the competition and how to get there. Obviously I think two bottle vs one bottle should be on the table. I understand why the change was made, but now that we have done it for a while it is reasonable to evaluate how well it has worked. As a judge I don't think I am confident that we are picking the best beers in big flights where freshness is important (IPA being the prime example). As an entrant, I don't like that.

phillamb168:  I think people overestimate how many entries are from prolific entrants. As such I don't think capping entries by participant would be effective and even if raising the fee per entry number(using a reasonable schedule which I don't think your proposal is though I think the exact numbers were just meant to be illustrative) discouraged those that enter heavily, I don't think it would be very effective. Also in most cases the people with dozens of entries are judging themselves so on a net basis I would argue that aren't causing problems as much as the huge number of people sending 2-3 entries but not helping out on the volunteer side. I do enter quite a bit, though I haven't gotten close to breaking any records, so perhaps this is self serving on my part but so are the calls to cap entries or charge insane prices for high number of entries from people who don't enter heavily. Ultimately I think let's try some simple things before we try exotic things.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 26, 2011, 11:53:32 AM
What about a tiered per-bottle entry fee? First bottle submitted is gratis if you're an AHA member. Second bottle is $10. Third bottle is $15, Fourth bottle is $20, fifth is $25, etc. By submitting loads of bottles a person is putting a bigger load on the judges, and they should be expected to pay to offset that load.

I think you'd get better submissions with a system like that, and it's a way to 'raise' the entry fees without excluding people who can't afford an outright cost increase.

In terms of compensation, I think non-monetary compensation would be excellent. Free food (perhaps a cook-off or pot luck? Those are always fun) and a hotel room if you travel farther than X miles. For people traveling less than X miles but more than Y miles, they get a gas card or something similar.
I suggested something like this earlier itt.  The way I would propose would be that a certain number of entries are the 'base' price but once you get over a threshold you have to pay more per entry.  johnf mentions some problems with that but the intent (imo) isn't just to 'discourage those that enter heavily' per se, but rather to increase the money taken in IF those heavy hitters are not discouraged.  It's their choice, less entries or more money.

This is over 1200 bottles and there is a ton of room to spare:
(http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n4/mtbucket_2006/BeerTrailerInside.jpg)

All inside this:
(http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n4/mtbucket_2006/BeerTrailerOutside.jpg)
 

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: theDarkSide on April 26, 2011, 12:03:20 PM
Why, so people can get their results faster?  We judged the first weekend we could this year specifically because of other events we had going on, that might not be the case next year.  So even if we finish in one weekend, it could very well be the last weekend possible for judging.

Valid points, but speaking as someone who sent their beer to Saratoga, where the original judging date was April 2nd, extend to a second date of April 17th, and now waiting on a 3rd date of April 30th, I could care less if it was judged in the first, middle, or last weekend, as long as it doesn't take a month to do it.  Next year if the NE dropoff is in the same location, I'm sending to a different region.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: gordonstrong on April 26, 2011, 12:11:37 PM
Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

It doesn't take a cunning amount of insight to realize this is a heinous thing to do.  That's reason enough to not use that location as a judging site in the future.  If you don't know how to hold a competition, then don't volunteer to do the NHC.

Did they lose the bottle corks and competition instructions that had been provided, not read them, or just choose to ignore them?

Mini-BOS is a continuous part of the session in which the component beers were selected.  It's not another judging round.

Beers shouldn't be "open for 3 hours" either.  The whole point of the bottle corks is that you open the beer, pour your samples, immediately cap the bottle and then save it cold.  You don't leave the bottle open until you decide you want to save it for later.  If you don't want the bottle, you pull the cap and reuse it.  But you treat the bottle as if you were going to save it until you decide otherwise.  It's not as good as a fresh bottle, but it will keep the beers in reasonable condition.  You work with the situation you have.  But you can't intentionally treat a beer as poorly as possible and then blame the system for your choices.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: ccarlson on April 26, 2011, 12:24:28 PM
Quote
Jeffy asks about the costs of running a first round judging site.  I have personally been a first round organizer 3 times over the last 10 years and our region has run right around $2,000 - $2,400 in that time.  We have costs for beer storage, judging site rental, 3 meals [we judge on a Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon] - so we do one dinner, a light breakfast and a lunch.  This is for approx 80 people each day [60 - 65 judges and 15 or so stewards].  Postage to mail out score sheets can be over $200.  Cups - for 750 entries and mini-BOS panels for nearly every category one needs almost 3,000 cups. etc. etc, You get the idea, all these expenses total out to a pretty big number pretty quickly. 

Say it actually costs $2400. What about the entry fees? At $5-$10 per entry, that adds up pretty quickly, as well. If you have 480 entries at $5 each, you've broken even. Maybe that's an abnormal amount of entries, but I really think $5 is low balling the amount, based on what I've read here.

There's no doubt that all of this costs money, especially when you might consider adding a refrigerated truck. By the way, I think that's a great idea. I have to say though, reading about some of the judging methods described here, (uncorked bottles, warm beer, old beer, etc.) makes me really question the outcome of some of these contests. 

As for paying judges, I think the free meals, after party, etc. are better ideas, but I'm not a judge, so my opinions are limited in this area.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: MDixon on April 26, 2011, 12:38:45 PM
The issue is not whether a nice case of bottles can be stored properly the issue is all those boxes arriving, needing to be unpacked and then stored. It took two of us 2 days to unpack and sort all the entries (600+) for the South Region back in the day. Then 4 loads of trash to the dump and recycling. We had rented a temp controlled, but not cooled, storage facility space and worked in there. A two bottle comp would have been nice, but we could barely handle all the bottles as it was and if we had two could not have pulled off the competition since there would have been no single vehicle owned by either of us which could have taken the beers 3 hours to the other site for judging.

As far as the issues faced in NY, it sounds like the flights must not have used queued judging. I was not aware of it when we hosted in 2008 and had I known we could have sped things up considerably. Now it's standard fare at all the comps in our area and has been since it was introduced to us at the 2008 NHC finals. More info is available on the BJCP site:
http://www.bjcp.org/compcenter.php
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 26, 2011, 01:30:18 PM
Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

It doesn't take a cunning amount of insight to realize this is a heinous thing to do.  That's reason enough to not use that location as a judging site in the future.  If you don't know how to hold a competition, then don't volunteer to do the NHC.

Did they lose the bottle corks and competition instructions that had been provided, not read them, or just choose to ignore them?

Mini-BOS is a continuous part of the session in which the component beers were selected.  It's not another judging round.

Beers shouldn't be "open for 3 hours" either.  The whole point of the bottle corks is that you open the beer, pour your samples, immediately cap the bottle and then save it cold.  You don't leave the bottle open until you decide you want to save it for later.  If you don't want the bottle, you pull the cap and reuse it.  But you treat the bottle as if you were going to save it until you decide otherwise.  It's not as good as a fresh bottle, but it will keep the beers in reasonable condition.  You work with the situation you have.  But you can't intentionally treat a beer as poorly as possible and then blame the system for your choices.

The story from NY is that the bottles were truly open, not sure if that was accurate, I was not there.

Normally of course you would put a plastic cork in and keep them cold. That is still not an ideal package because there is empty space in the bottle that is filled with air at atmospheric pressure. The remaining beer will have a lower carbonation level and be exposed to oxygen. I would argue this is material for IPAs, immaterial for still meads, and slightly material for most stuff.

I judged IPAs in Denver and we treated the beers as well as possible. I'm not confident mini-bos went the same way it would have gone with a second bottle. Of course I can't say that for certain. It seemed like several of the beers in mini-bos had poor hop aroma and I was surprised they got through. Then the judge from that flight would say it seemed better when they were judging it. So basically do you judge the beer you have or give weight to what the other guy remembers? With 5 sets of judges and 3 mini-bos judges, several of those beers that had suppressed aroma had nobody from the judging pair in mini-bos to stick up for them or convey a memory of what it was like fresh.

On the other hand I judged stouts and I think one bottle worked much better there. All of the beers that were in mini-bos were good at that time.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: SiameseMoose on April 26, 2011, 01:43:06 PM
A few unconnected thoughts:

The entry fee covers not just the first round, but also the second. An option (and I'm not even sure I like it, but I'm throwing it out there) is to charge an additional fee for beers sent to the second round.

My wife and I are both judges. She's Master, and I'm National. With two high-ranking judges in the same household, we're often treated to a "personal invitation" from contest organizers. A personal gripe is that all too often organizers try to make us feel guilty, "We really need you," or the one that makes me angry, "You're BJCP, you owe us." I heard this from two of this year's regions. Any organizer that gives me that line will never see me.

We pick which competitions to attend for a number of reasons, including going to meet and support personal friends, going someplace new, and places that offer a unique experience. Drew's idea of special beers or a party is something that would normally attract us, but there's a problem. The last few years when regionals were hosted by Weasel Boy in Zanesville, Jay and Lori (the owners) planned special entertainment for Saturday evening, and generally treated us like royalty. But, after judging and a little partying Friday, and two flights on Saturday, all we wanted to do was crawl into bed. We didn't hang around after judging.

Finally, the organizers do a boatload of work. (I know about the second round from personal experience.) Does the AHA give them anything for their efforts? I know they get BJCP points, but I'm one who doesn't care about points (I know, heresy to some of you :D). At a minimum, I'd like to see a thank you article in Zymurgy that lists the names of all of the people involved. Going further, perhaps a gift certificate to the Beertown store might be offered.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: curtcrock on April 26, 2011, 02:13:24 PM
A higher entry fee, to which I am not opposed, might reduce the practice of entering a single beer over multiple catagories, thus reducing the load on the judges and in turn, lead to an increased focus on the specific style being judged.

I agree with some of the earlier posts; anything we can do to make things easier for the judges would benefit the competition.

Good health,
Curt
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: gordonstrong on April 26, 2011, 02:27:06 PM
"You're BJCP, you owe us."

Never heard that one.  Thankfully.  For them.

Competitions exist in a marketplace.  Market rules apply.  Get a reputation for running a lame competition and don't be surprised if your customers (judges, in this case) bail on you.

Judges are a valuable, limited resource.  Treat them well.  Many of the improvements introduced in the second round over the last four or five years were specifically to create a better judging and conference experience for the judges. In some past conferences, judges (who have to pay to be there, by the way) missed half the conference due to judging, and received essentially no thanks except a free lunch.  Looks like a similar amount of attention has to be focused on the first round.  That's more difficult to manage since the people running it are independent groups, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 26, 2011, 03:50:20 PM
Why, so people can get their results faster?  We judged the first weekend we could this year specifically because of other events we had going on, that might not be the case next year.  So even if we finish in one weekend, it could very well be the last weekend possible for judging.

Valid points, but speaking as someone who sent their beer to Saratoga, where the original judging date was April 2nd, extend to a second date of April 17th, and now waiting on a 3rd date of April 30th, I could care less if it was judged in the first, middle, or last weekend, as long as it doesn't take a month to do it.  Next year if the NE dropoff is in the same location, I'm sending to a different region.
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Hokerer on April 26, 2011, 04:03:14 PM
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

cuz our impatient little heads're gonna 'splode.  the suspense is killing me :)
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: theDarkSide on April 26, 2011, 04:03:30 PM
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc.  

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on April 26, 2011, 04:07:43 PM
That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc. 

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.
Ah, well yes, "properly judged" is a really big part of the equation.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Tim McManus on April 26, 2011, 04:55:56 PM
I was going to head up to Saratoga to judge.  It's about a 4-6 hour drive depending on how you go and traffic.  No biggie for me, I am used to driving long distances.  However, I would have probably stayed over night so I didn't have to drive all fatigued.  I am willing to drive to judge because of the experience.  Where else can you sit in a room full of beer geeks and taste some really spectacular beers?  It's a lot more attractive than going to a beer festival.

I am usually treated very well as a judge, but I am also very low maintenance.  Tell me where to go, what I'm judging, and who my judging partner is and I'm ready to go.

I do agree with the folks talking about meals.  I was at one competition that quickly ran out of food for the judges, but they took initiative and resolved the problem as best they could.  But I think that judges need a continental breakfast spread (rolls, bagels, spreads, coffee, tea, hot water, etc.) when they arrive and at least a hot lunch for judging a flight.  A second flight should come with the option of a hot dinner or snack.

Judging stipends piqued my interest and I understand some of the issues in granting them.  It's another piece of overhead for a competition too.  It also sets up an expectation and people can get frustrated and irrational when expectations and money are involved.  However, it can be used as some good incentive to get judges more motivated.  For instance, if you said that a National Judge gets $20 per contest and a Master Judge gets $30.  We're rewarding experience and participation in judging and we're providing some incentive for more experienced judges to go to more competitions.  We're also providing low-ranking judges with the incentive to get more experience.  It shouldn't be a lot of money but enough to provide incentive.

The only caveat is that I would not mandate these rules unless you are sponsoring a large competition.  Something like nationals probably needs a different system in place with some incentives to get judges out.  You'd also have to do the same thing with stewards too.  It's a complex issue but not one that's impossible to solve.  It's worth doing a financial analysis on it to see how much the stipends would cost and how that would affect the cost of entries.  And then, of course, determining if there are any tax-related issues with doing this.

I recently judged a homebrew competition who in years past gave out recappers as a thanks to the judges.  They were hand-made brass bottle openers with a recapper on the other end.  I searched eBay and such to find one and only found one device that could do the trick.  It removes the cap without bending it and has a capper on the other end--a round crucible-shaped end.  I found an old version of this called a Pop'N Stop.  The devices was made in the early 1900 and is designed to reseal soda bottles from back in the day.  I will be bringing this opener with me to all competitions so I can reseal entries immediately after opening them.  The folks that used to give them out host the Hudson Valley Home Brewers Competition.  If someone can get the design and mass produce them, they would be an outstanding judges' "thank you" and mitigate some of the mini-BOS issues.

I also think that the next few years should see some improvement in these larger events.  We have more people than ever applying to become judges and just as many entering entries into contests.  We've acknowledged that revisions to the BJCP exam are being discussed and they will facilitate getting more judges out there.  I also think the national competition will change too.  It's huge and may need some unique solutions to keep it going.

I'll throw my hat in to help judge next year's NE rounds.  I didn't do it this year because I had too much stuff going on, but if I can help improve it, I will.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on April 26, 2011, 05:04:09 PM
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc.  

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.

I've heard the same rumors of course. At least some of it I heard from someone who had been there, directly, in person a week later.

I don't think the taking 3 weeks part in and of itself is a horrible thing. In fact, maybe regions should plan from the outset to judge multiple weeks. I guess you could make the argument that people want to time some of their beers tightly to the judging date but that seems fairly nit picky and since the entries are due at the same time is hard to do anyway. I'm the biggest "IPAs have poor shelf life" freak you'll find but even I think if you can't make an IPA that is substantially at peak quality for 3 or 4 weeks when stored cold then something is wrong. I'll take well judged over 4 weekends vs sloppily judged in one. Maybe sites should be encouraged to schedule judging on multiple weekends if they aren't confident than can do it in one. I think that might be more smooth than trying against all odds to finish in a single weekend and then adding ad hoc sessions afterward that nobody expected and therefore get low turnout.

One thing not mentioned about enticing out of town judges is that I think passive things like location can mean a lot more than anything you could afford to do actively. This means not just city but location within city. I like to do fun extracurricular stuff when I judge and I hate having to deal with driving on a weekend centered around beer. I live in KC, basically the same (long) distance from Denver, Dallas, Indy, Madison and Nashville. I went to Denver, and it was an easy decision, because they judged within walking distance of all the spots on Blake street.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: Beer Monger on April 27, 2011, 01:20:55 PM
Perhaps a possible solution would be to limit the number of entries that can be received per region.  Basically, you'd have to register online somewhere before sending your entries in - to make sure you get in before the cutoff.  

Then, those who don't make it in time could try submitting their entries to a different judging region - one that, perhaps, has more judges to handle the higher volume of beers to be judged.

I'm just thinkin' out loud...
You realize that is exactly what was done this year, right?  Each region was capped at 750 entries.

There may be the possibility of having different limits in different regions depending on the local judge pool, but that is another layer of complexity and potential problems.
No.  I didn't realize they had done that this year.  That's a step in the right direction but yeah, varrying limits per region could be a headache to implement properly. 
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: koelschbrewer on May 04, 2011, 04:37:15 PM
It appears as if NY is still not done judging their beers after well over a month. Clearly, the entrants in that region are significantly disadvantaged going into the second round, making the entire competition somewhat of an unfair event. Also clearly, the buck needs to stop with the AHA - it's their choice to use an external judging system that has been terribly backlogged (and that I greatly dislike). And it's the AHA's signature competition. There is little that can be done now, but would appreciate a statement from the governing committee on these issues sooner rather than later, including how these issues will be addressed next year... I also think something needs to be done for those NY entrants, many of whom spent long hours brewing and hundreds of dollars in entry and shipping fees, just to find out that their beers were, at best, unprofessionally judged and improperly stored.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: markaberrant on May 04, 2011, 09:51:35 PM
I also think something needs to be done for those NY entrants, many of whom spent long hours brewing and hundreds of dollars in entry and shipping fees, just to find out that their beers were, at best, unprofessionally judged and improperly stored.

What exactly do you suggest should be done for the entrants?

And how do you know they were unprofessionally judged and improperly stored?

I am pretty sure a lot of people are disappointed and upset with the delays this year, and as an organizer myself I would assume the AHA and the local NY organizers are the ones taking it the hardest, so maybe just lay off on the griping and hand wringing until the dust has settled.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 04, 2011, 10:04:48 PM


And how do you know they were unprofessionally judged and improperly stored?


There are plenty of stories out of there. No stewards, stopping judging a category in the middle one night (after many of the entries had been opened) and finished in the morning, generally a cluster. Assuming half this stuff is true...
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: ccarlson on May 04, 2011, 10:05:32 PM
I also think something needs to be done for those NY entrants, many of whom spent long hours brewing and hundreds of dollars in entry and shipping fees, just to find out that their beers were, at best, unprofessionally judged and improperly stored.

What exactly do you suggest should be done for the entrants?

And how do you know they were unprofessionally judged and improperly stored?

I am pretty sure a lot of people are disappointed and upset with the delays this year, and as an organizer myself I would assume the AHA and the local NY organizers are the ones taking it the hardest, so maybe just lay off on the griping and hand wringing until the dust has settled.

WOW He is entitled to his opinion, don't you think?
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: markaberrant on May 05, 2011, 12:59:12 AM
WOW He is entitled to his opinion, don't you think?

Absolutely.  Clearly there is a problem.  But also accept that these are volunteers doing their best.  Again, as an organizer, I take it very personally when the slightest glitch occurs at a competition.  I can't imagine how badly the organizers in NY must feel right now.  All of the people that have been piling on, who supposedly know what happened and are looking for a pound of flesh, are not helping one damn bit.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2011, 01:52:35 AM
This is clearly an unfortunate sequence of events as Saratogo Springs is still in the process of finishing up their round of judging. I for one am disappointed that it had to come down this way, as I have multiple beers that I've entered there. For whatever the reasons this may have happened we must wait. There are many of us that want to rebrew and were waiting for the final results in order to determine what if any entries we needed to rebrew. There are some unknowns and these may or may not have impacted the final outcome.

Until we get a better understanding of the actual issues that impacted the delay and the impending outcome of the competition it is in everyones best interests to refrain from speculating and fingerpointing as it will not change anything at this point.

I am hopeful yet confident that there was due diligence on the part of the competition organizers and judges that volunteered their time and efforts in Saratoga Springs. I know a few of the judges and can vouch for their great professionalism and  work ethic. I am also confident that the situation there was handled professionally despite the fact that they were faced with a straining situation.

Let's all keep our hats on and hope that this situation will come to a soft landing as we near the final round.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bfogt on May 05, 2011, 02:25:27 AM
I'm with Martin on the need for an incentive for attracting judges to the NHC.  My favorite "compensation package" to date was a comped room for the Ohio State Fair last year.  To them it had no actual cost since they were earned rewards (like points) from putting up acts during the fair.  Hotel costs seem to fluctuate widely depending on the site and convention schedule.  And hotel rooms aren't as attractive to locals who can just go home. 

I really like the Indy site at Sun King.  I'm not sure why more BA members aren't using the opportunity to get their name out to the masses.  Even if they aren't an official sponsor, having 600 brewers send beer to your address, or stop by, has got to be good for a brand.  And I think that a tasting room provides and instant after-party.  Frankly, I'm surprised that this is not the norm.  Maybe the AHA/BA relationship needs to be leveraged more.  But our local brewery isn't showing interest in getting more involved in a small competition attached to beer festival which they are completely involved in.  If they did, the competition would be bigger, as would the festival.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: pedro on May 05, 2011, 03:44:15 AM
Having 750 entries to judge in a single competition is a ton of beer to get through - what about cutting this in half but doubling the sites?  You'd give more people the opportunity to get involved and less distance for people to have to ship their entries to.  Aside from having to coordinate more sites on the part of the AHA about the only downside I can see if having the added expense of additional conference rooms.  However, many venues would chip in the room for no charge if you are hiring their catering services, so this might be a wash.   Or someone made the suggestion about the BA doing a better job engaging the commercial guys to step up and help out. Surely the AHA know where the entries are coming in from - if there is a hot-bed of entries originating from a particular area, there's a good chance that area has a good corps of judges, and a well run competition.

While I think the change to letting you enter whatever region you choose this year was a great move, the whole Saratoga Springs fiasco is crazy.  I'm still waiting for my scoresheets.  And having contacted the AHA last year after the North-East Region filled-up to capacity and making a case for a 1st Round NHC site in New England, it's very disappointing.  I hope this serves as a wake-up call.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 04:46:39 AM
Having 750 entries to judge in a single competition is a ton of beer to get through - what about cutting this in half but doubling the sites?  You'd give more people the opportunity to get involved and less distance for people to have to ship their entries to.  Aside from having to coordinate more sites on the part of the AHA about the only downside I can see if having the added expense of additional conference rooms.
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: james on May 05, 2011, 07:10:16 AM
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.

I think it is going to be hard to come up with a solution to make everyone happy.  I've seen suggestions of a 3 tier round, but that is only going to increase costs.  Another idea is to go the way of MCAB and have all the registered competitions be qualifiers
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 07:45:58 AM
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.

I think it is going to be hard to come up with a solution to make everyone happy.  I've seen suggestions of a 3 tier round, but that is only going to increase costs.  Another idea is to go the way of MCAB and have all the registered competitions be qualifiers
True, it will be very difficult to find a solution to please everyone.  But you can't please the entrants at the expense of the judges.  Doubling the entries for the second round would require either a LOT more judges or a second day of judging in the second round.  That has additional costs and puts additional strain on the judges.  There's 28 categories, 3 entries from each region, 10 regions . . . 840 entries.  You want to double that for one day of judging?  I don't see it happening.  And the MCAB format has its own implementation problems.

I'm not saying that things are perfect as is, so it's great to see new ideas coming out.  But the ideas have to fix more problems than they create for the competition as a whole.  As the conference grows so will the judge pool, and I think it might be feasible to add a region.  That can help.

But the competition keeps growing, creating larger challenges for the organizers.  What really needs to happen is people need to step up and volunteer to help get things done.  Every two additional judges is ~20 entries finished on a day of judging.  This is a hobby, and we all contribute what we can, when we can.  But you can't be sitting on your couch while the judging is going on down the street.  If you enter competitions, you should be prepared to judge.  If everyone who entered judged, we could finish all comps in one session.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: james on May 05, 2011, 08:04:48 AM
True, it will be very difficult to find a solution to please everyone.  But you can't please the entrants at the expense of the judges.  Doubling the entries for the second round would require either a LOT more judges or a second day of judging in the second round.  That has additional costs and puts additional strain on the judges.  There's 28 categories, 3 entries from each region, 10 regions . . . 840 entries.  You want to double that for one day of judging?  I don't see it happening.  And the MCAB format has its own implementation problems.

I'm not saying that things are perfect as is, so it's great to see new ideas coming out.  But the ideas have to fix more problems than they create for the competition as a whole.  As the conference grows so will the judge pool, and I think it might be feasible to add a region.  That can help.

But the competition keeps growing, creating larger challenges for the organizers.  What really needs to happen is people need to step up and volunteer to help get things done.  Every two additional judges is ~20 entries finished on a day of judging.  This is a hobby, and we all contribute what we can, when we can.  But you can't be sitting on your couch while the judging is going on down the street.  If you enter competitions, you should be prepared to judge.  If everyone who entered judged, we could finish all comps in one session.

Get some sleep man :)

With the upcoming changes to the test it should make it easier to get more recognized/certified judges in, but I bet a lot of them are already judging as non-bjcp.

I think this is just an interim time where the ratio of entries to judges is high.  In a few years I suspect that there will be enough judges in every region to bang through the entries in a day or two.  Then in a few more years it will Ebb the other way.

Props to all the judges, proctors, organizers, staff, etc. who are making this all happen.  It can be a thankless job but you are all making it happen
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 01:09:53 PM

But the competition keeps growing, creating larger challenges for the organizers.  What really needs to happen is people need to step up and volunteer to help get things done.  Every two additional judges is ~20 entries finished on a day of judging.  This is a hobby, and we all contribute what we can, when we can.  But you can't be sitting on your couch while the judging is going on down the street.  If you enter competitions, you should be prepared to judge.  If everyone who entered judged, we could finish all comps in one session.

As I like to say, there is nearly one BJCP member for every entry in the first round.

The ultimate problem is judges not coming out. Travel is a hardship and all that but in Dallas, which has a large local pool of judges, they struggled.

The other side of the coin is that I think there are a lot of people who basically only enter the NHC and would get at least equally good scoresheets from a good regional competition.

But yeah, participation is growing at a rate faster than volunteering, and that doesn't work. I do not think the participation will grow this fast forever so the question isn't how do we grow this fast every year, but how to we make sure next year goes better than this year did. I think the trick is choosing the sites that make the most sense. Go back to Atlanta (keep using Nashville if you want, we don't need geographical diversity under the current rules), use an East Coast site on the Acela Express line, avoid Dallas unless the proximity to Blue Bonnet changes.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2011, 01:40:50 PM

But the competition keeps growing, creating larger challenges for the organizers.  What really needs to happen is people need to step up and volunteer to help get things done.  Every two additional judges is ~20 entries finished on a day of judging.  This is a hobby, and we all contribute what we can, when we can.  But you can't be sitting on your couch while the judging is going on down the street.  If you enter competitions, you should be prepared to judge.  If everyone who entered judged, we could finish all comps in one session.

As I like to say, there is nearly one BJCP member for every entry in the first round.

The ultimate problem is judges not coming out. Travel is a hardship and all that but in Dallas, which has a large local pool of judges, they struggled.

The other side of the coin is that I think there are a lot of people who basically only enter the NHC and would get at least equally good scoresheets from a good regional competition.

But yeah, participation is growing at a rate faster than volunteering, and that doesn't work. I do not think the participation will grow this fast forever so the question isn't how do we grow this fast every year, but how to we make sure next year goes better than this year did. I think the trick is choosing the sites that make the most sense. Go back to Atlanta (keep using Nashville if you want, we don't need geographical diversity under the current rules), use an East Coast site on the Acela Express line, avoid Dallas unless the proximity to Blue Bonnet changes.

This is my thinking as well.

For me to judge my region, I would have to drive over 20 hrs round trip. It's a logistics issue that kept me from judging the first round this year. I think we should target the vicinity of locations that have a higher density of judges. This should add more more judging horsepower to the regional judging centers.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 05:17:20 PM
For me to judge my region, I would have to drive over 20 hrs round trip. It's a logistics issue that kept me from judging the first round this year. I think we should target the vicinity of locations that have a higher density of judges. This should add more more judging horsepower to the regional judging centers.
I agree, but here's the problem - there is not a big fight among regions over who gets to host the first round.  Often Janis has to recruit volunteers to run things so as far as "choosing the sites" goes, sometimes we've got to go with who we can get.  Some people have more experience and are better organized than others, some can get more judges, etc.  These are all factors to consider, but you don't always know if people will be capable of pulling it off until you give them a chance.  Ultimately, you can't force any region to host the competition.

It's the same with the conference, people may complain that it goes to certain regions too often but it's not like there are 10 bids submitted each year for the AHA to choose from.  There's a lot of work that goes in to these events, and sometimes people get burned out.  We can't just "go back to Atlanta" unless someone there is willing to run the show for nothing other than a love of the hobby.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 05:34:20 PM
For me to judge my region, I would have to drive over 20 hrs round trip. It's a logistics issue that kept me from judging the first round this year. I think we should target the vicinity of locations that have a higher density of judges. This should add more more judging horsepower to the regional judging centers.
I agree, but here's the problem - there is not a big fight among regions over who gets to host the first round.  Often Janis has to recruit volunteers to run things so as far as "choosing the sites" goes, sometimes we've got to go with who we can get.  Some people have more experience and are better organized than others, some can get more judges, etc.  These are all factors to consider, but you don't always know if people will be capable of pulling it off until you give them a chance.  Ultimately, you can't force any region to host the competition.

It's the same with the conference, people may complain that it goes to certain regions too often but it's not like there are 10 bids submitted each year for the AHA to choose from.  There's a lot of work that goes in to these events, and sometimes people get burned out.  We can't just "go back to Atlanta" unless someone there is willing to run the show for nothing other than a love of the hobby.

You can refute this if it is not true, but my understanding is that despite hosting successfully in the recent past and wanting to host this year, Atlanta was passed over. So this seems like a case of taking three chances (Nashville, Dallas, Saratoga) when you could have taken two.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: denny on May 05, 2011, 06:00:43 PM
You can refute this if it is not true, but my understanding is that despite hosting successfully in the recent past and wanting to host this year, Atlanta was passed over. So this seems like a case of taking three chances (Nashville, Dallas, Saratoga) when you could have taken two.

I hadn't heard that.  I'll ask about it on out next GC conference call.  But I can tell you that based on how I've seen sites chosen, I've never seen a successful and willing site passed over.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 06:03:57 PM
You can refute this if it is not true, but my understanding is that despite hosting successfully in the recent past and wanting to host this year, Atlanta was passed over. So this seems like a case of taking three chances (Nashville, Dallas, Saratoga) when you could have taken two.
I have no idea how the regions were selected this year.  If Atlanta volunteered and Janis declined I'm sure she had a good reason.  I think one of the goals should be to have many potential sites so we can rotate and not burn out the judges and organizers from a particular region, so maybe that is what she was trying to set up there.  I don't know though.  I do know that Seattle was supposed to have the year off, but Oregon had that problem with their homebrew law so we had to do it and they will go next year.

Let me add - it is not the region that makes it go smoothly, it is the individual organizers.  We've had first rounds go poorly in this region and been among the last to get the results out, we've had some run great.  I think it comes down to having the right people with the right experience to some extent, it's been a while since a competition hasn't gone well.  It also helps that we've dramatically increased our judge recruitment and training program and given a lot of BJCP exams in this area.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2011, 06:20:58 PM
Let me add - it is not the region that makes it go smoothly, it is the individual organizers.  We've had first rounds go poorly in this region and been among the last to get the results out, we've had some run great.  I think it comes down to having the right people with the right experience to some extent, it's been a while since a competition hasn't gone well.  It also helps that we've dramatically increased our judge recruitment and training program and given a lot of BJCP exams in this area.

I agree with this Tom.

Maybe I wasn't clear in my last post but I am not suggesting that the AHA volunteer a specific city or town to host the regionals based on judging density alone as the criteria for selection. I think that it goes without saying that experienced and talented organizers with proven track records (to some degree) not to mention a solid judging base are required in order to have a successful competition. However, all the experience and talent in the world probably won't suffice if there isn't a sound local judging base to support that idea. By local I am suggesting a 150-200+/-mi. radius.

I would also like to clarify that I am not in any way suggesting that we don't have experienced and talented organizers with proven track records. I am extremely confident in the foresight and abilities of the AHA Competition Organizing Committtee's abilities to put together a successful competition.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: pedro on May 05, 2011, 06:25:24 PM
Having 750 entries to judge in a single competition is a ton of beer to get through - what about cutting this in half but doubling the sites?  You'd give more people the opportunity to get involved and less distance for people to have to ship their entries to.  Aside from having to coordinate more sites on the part of the AHA about the only downside I can see if having the added expense of additional conference rooms.
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.

How would reducing the number of entries per site, while increasing the number of sites, cause a problem?  Of course you'd have to change the process for beers going to the final round if you were to keep the size of the 2nd round the same - this could include only having the 1st place beer advance, or potentially more fair, scale the slots available for advancing entries to the number of entries  received in a given category/region.  I know...math!

But the main point I'm trying to make is it's a lot easier to coax a judge to drive up to an hour each way, vs. 5h as it has been the past few years for us New England folks.  Surely we are not alone up here - it's a big country!
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: jeffy on May 05, 2011, 06:37:12 PM
Having 750 entries to judge in a single competition is a ton of beer to get through - what about cutting this in half but doubling the sites?  You'd give more people the opportunity to get involved and less distance for people to have to ship their entries to.  Aside from having to coordinate more sites on the part of the AHA about the only downside I can see if having the added expense of additional conference rooms.
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.

How would reducing the number of entries per site, while increasing the number of sites, cause a problem?  Of course you'd have to change the process for beers going to the final round if you were to keep the size of the 2nd round the same - this could include only having the 1st place beer advance, or potentially more fair, scale the slots available for advancing entries to the number of entries  received in a given category/region.  I know...math!

But the main point I'm trying to make is it's a lot easier to coax a judge to drive up to an hour each way, vs. 5h as it has been the past few years for us New England folks.  Surely we are not alone up here - it's a big country!

I had an entry place third at the regionals one year and get a gold in the finals.  There's that whole different judge different day thing again.  So I don't think it would be fair to limit the entries going to the final round.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 06:47:57 PM
Having 750 entries to judge in a single competition is a ton of beer to get through - what about cutting this in half but doubling the sites?  You'd give more people the opportunity to get involved and less distance for people to have to ship their entries to.  Aside from having to coordinate more sites on the part of the AHA about the only downside I can see if having the added expense of additional conference rooms.
This would also double the number of entries in the second round.  That would cause real problems there.

How would reducing the number of entries per site, while increasing the number of sites, cause a problem?  Of course you'd have to change the process for beers going to the final round if you were to keep the size of the 2nd round the same - this could include only having the 1st place beer advance, or potentially more fair, scale the slots available for advancing entries to the number of entries  received in a given category/region.  I know...math!

But the main point I'm trying to make is it's a lot easier to coax a judge to drive up to an hour each way, vs. 5h as it has been the past few years for us New England folks.  Surely we are not alone up here - it's a big country!

I had an entry place third at the regionals one year and get a gold in the finals.  There's that whole different judge different day thing again.  So I don't think it would be fair to limit the entries going to the final round.

+1

Scaling doesn't work well as we have to send an integer number of entries to the second round. There are already enough opportunities for gamesmanship to not give someone the opportunity to send an extra few beers to get that site to get over the threshold to send 3 instead of 2 and therefore increase his odds by 50%.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tomsawyer on May 05, 2011, 06:54:58 PM
Don't let the contest be a victim of its own success.  Keep it at a manageable level.  Towards this end, I think its obvious you should limit the number of entries per site, and probably limit the number of entries per person in order to make it fair.
  
The point about needing to send more than a first place on to the finals doesn't hold water for me.  This judging thing is subjective from start to finish, who's to say you didn't leave the best beer back in the first round by only sending three on?  The goal should be to send some good beers to the finals, no more no less.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bonjour on May 05, 2011, 07:01:12 PM
What I know is that all the issues that cropped up this year, and in years passed will be evaluated and the volunteer committee will do their best to ensure the same pitfalls do not recur.  These are people that want the same thing everyone here wants, a fair and good quality evaluation all entered beers, meads and ciders.

Last year on region maxed out and two others nearly did.  The competition was altered to prevent anyone from being turned away.
There was plenty of excess capacity in regions that did not max out to prevent a recurrence.
Not in anybodies wildest imagination did anyone figure ALL regions would max out and make this the largest homebrew competition ever.  Ok, they figured this would be the biggest, but that everyone would be able to enter their brews.

I do not know this but I suspect . . . .

Some regions were expecting to receive far fewer entries than the 750 that they received.  This being based on history.  A full 750 entries caused issues at some regions.  (again, I don't know).  I also suspect that SOME regions can handle more than the 750 limit.


I do know that the committee will evaluate everything to make next year better.  I'm sure the evaluation will include smaller sites, larger sites, more sites, and everything else that has been mentioned.  Their goal is to make this the premier homebrew competition in the world.

 



Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: brandon on May 05, 2011, 07:16:09 PM
You can refute this if it is not true, but my understanding is that despite hosting successfully in the recent past and wanting to host this year, Atlanta was passed over. So this seems like a case of taking three chances (Nashville, Dallas, Saratoga) when you could have taken two.

I hadn't heard that.  I'll ask about it on out next GC conference call.  But I can tell you that based on how I've seen sites chosen, I've never seen a successful and willing site passed over.

Foster-
Atlanta was not passed over. They did it 2 years in a row and they were done doing it. They put in their time is one reason. Another reason is the location they used is now a parking lot. From my understanding talking to Phil Farell it was a still fully stocked resturant with a walk in cooler that was renting to them for a song since it was in foreclosure and out of business. But its no more. Anyway we had expressed interest 3 years ago and were asked to host this year. Which we were and still happy we did host this year.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: denny on May 05, 2011, 07:20:28 PM
Foster-
Atlanta was not passed over. They did it 2 years in a row and they were done doing it. They put in their time is one reason. Another reason is the location they used is now a parking lot. From my understanding talking to Phil Farell it was a still fully stocked resturant with a walk in cooler that was renting to them for a song since it was in foreclosure and out of business. But its no more. Anyway we had expressed interest 3 years ago and were asked to host this year. Which we were and still happy we did host this year.


Thanks for the explanation, Brandon.  There's already too much speculation about some things here and it's great to have the facts.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 07:47:28 PM
Foster-
Atlanta was not passed over. They did it 2 years in a row and they were done doing it. They put in their time is one reason. Another reason is the location they used is now a parking lot. From my understanding talking to Phil Farell it was a still fully stocked resturant with a walk in cooler that was renting to them for a song since it was in foreclosure and out of business. But its no more. Anyway we had expressed interest 3 years ago and were asked to host this year. Which we were and still happy we did host this year.


Thanks for the explanation, Brandon.  There's already too much speculation about some things here and it's great to have the facts.

Nobody is speculating. I said I heard something and that is because someone from Atlanta posted on another forum that they were not asked (and therefore did not decline) this year. If Atlanta was asked and decline (Brandon doesn't exactly say that) then what I heard is wrong, but I still have not speculated anything I simply relayed information I could not verify and clearly disclosed it as such.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 09:06:11 PM
What I know is that all the issues that cropped up this year, and in years passed will be evaluated and the volunteer committee will do their best to ensure the same pitfalls do not recur.  These are people that want the same thing everyone here wants, a fair and good quality evaluation all entered beers, meads and ciders.

Last year on region maxed out and two others nearly did.  The competition was altered to prevent anyone from being turned away.
There was plenty of excess capacity in regions that did not max out to prevent a recurrence.
Not in anybodies wildest imagination did anyone figure ALL regions would max out and make this the largest homebrew competition ever.  Ok, they figured this would be the biggest, but that everyone would be able to enter their brews.

I do not know this but I suspect . . . .

Some regions were expecting to receive far fewer entries than the 750 that they received.  This being based on history.  A full 750 entries caused issues at some regions.  (again, I don't know).  I also suspect that SOME regions can handle more than the 750 limit.


I do know that the committee will evaluate everything to make next year better.  I'm sure the evaluation will include smaller sites, larger sites, more sites, and everything else that has been mentioned.  Their goal is to make keep this the premier homebrew competition in the world.
Fixed that ;)

Good points, Fred.  I think we all want have the same goal, it's just a matter of figuring out the best way to get there.  It's good to get a lot of different ideas on the table so they can be evaluated.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: anthony on May 05, 2011, 10:16:40 PM
I'd be interested to see a statistical breakdown of where the growth is... is it in number of new brewers entering or number of entries each brewer is sending in...

If it is the latter, a change to how Ninkasi and Homebrew Club of the Year are calculated at the 2nd round might fix it... along with some corresponding carry over from what happens in the 1st round as well.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 11:05:42 PM
I'd be interested to see a statistical breakdown of where the growth is... is it in number of new brewers entering or number of entries each brewer is sending in...

If it is the latter, a change to how Ninkasi and Homebrew Club of the Year are calculated at the 2nd round might fix it... along with some corresponding carry over from what happens in the 1st round as well.

The AHA has published for 2008-2010 the number of brewers, and number of entries. The number of entries per brewer decreased each year. I suspect it will again this year, or at least not go up much.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/competitions/national-homebrew-competition/winners

Last year people blamed the two regions filling up on Jamil (who did not enter) and Gordon (who entered a region that didn't fill up). I don't think capping entries per brewer gets you very far since very few people enter a ton, and it completely changes the nature of the Ninkasi award if the cap is low enough to make a difference (like 10 or less). Its not the 10 guys who enter 25, it is the 1000 guys who enter 3.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tomsawyer on May 06, 2011, 12:16:32 PM
I don't think it would be fair to continue to let people enter 25 beers and then limit the total number of entries.  Although I suppose a first come first served approach brings a certain amount of fairness to it.  And I just don't see where its possible to let the contest grow unchecked.  It'll crash and burn under its own weight.  Limiting entries might have a cooling effect but it might also lend a certain additional amount of credibility in terms of the seriousness of the entrants.  I foresee club parties waiting for midnight on the first day to enter.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 12:02:25 PM
Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

Hey, I judged that flight! My wife and I were assigned German wheat and rye on Friday night. We got through one flight (14 beers) and then the hall owners kicked us out. Our mini-BoS winners got recapped with plastic temporary caps. Saturday morning we judged the rest of the flight (13 beers). Surprisingly, for a style that demands high carbonation and suffers badly from oxidation, one of our Friday night mini-BoS entries actually took first place!

FWIW, I saw no problems with the quality of the judging; I saw a lot of National and experienced Certified judges at Saratoga Springs. I'm a Certified judge going for National or better rank (I took the exam for the third time this three weeks ago) and my wife is Certified. We immediately recapped all our beers and set them aside. Putting them in a cooler wasn't an option since we were acting as our own stewards. We filled out full scoresheets, discussed each entry, and generally came within 3 points of each other in scoring. I think we did a good job under bad circumstances. If anyone has problems with my judging, please contact me privately.

Honestly once you have the bottles sorted, do they really take up that much space (I've seen 900, I can extrapolate to 1500)? Maybe we should look harder for sites instead of sacrificing quality.

750 entries of 1 bottle each is 31.25 cases. That's a heck of a lot of beer. Our club competition last week had approximately the same amount (2 bottles @ at 325 entries). It would occupy an entire glass-fronted convenience store beer cooler, or about an eight to a quarter of a typical walk-in cooler. That puts something of a limit on club venues since not many places have that sort of storage capacity and don't necessarily want strangers going in and out of their kitchen.

Does anyone want to defend the NY situation as anything other than a horrible judging situation? Does anyone have a better idea to prevent it from happening again?

I think that the NY competition was a debacle because it was a little club that didn't realize that they could actually get 750 entries, then freaked out when they actually did. I saw very little local club support and not a whole lot of advanced planning. Maybe bad local politics happened and some key people decided to stay away. If so, it was a terribly short-sighted decision.

In their defense, I will say  that the hall was decent (other than being kicked out at 10 p.m. on Friday before the judging was done) and could have handled twice the number of judges. Also, lack of pull sheets on Friday evening was possibly due to havning to quickly import the club's entry database over to the AHA's format.

Other than that, yeah, it sucked. Huge flights. No stewards. No cellarmaster. No pull sheets ready when we arrived on Friday. The promised dinner never appeared, only lunch and not much of that. The AHA owes a big debt of gratitude to George Di Piro at C.H. Evans/Albany Pump House for taking over judging on later weekends. Also, all the people who stepped into the rubble to judge those flights deserve a big hand.

I'm surprised that the competition didn't pull in more judges from New England. I think that the email plea for judges just went to NY. Either that or everyone in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec had better things to do that day. I also didn't see that many judges from downstate NY - NYC and Long Island. They might have found it easier to go to Philadelphia. Not that I blame them, but some judges I know saw a catastrophe in the making and stayed away. Perhaps they had bad judging experiences there before. The price of gas might have discouraged others.

The lesson for me is that a really big competition either requires several clubs pulling together and also requires the AHA to more carefully investigate a club's ability to handle a big competition. My ideas:

1) Any bid to host an NHC 1st round ought to include total club membership to get an estimate of "passive support" for the competition.

2) The AHA should make the bid organizers for an NHC 1st round jump through a few hoops and submit a reasonably detailed plan in order to get an estimate of potential support. If there's no evidence that there's a planning committee, that's reason to be suspicious of the club's organizing skills.

3) I think that there ought to be more 1st round regional competitions, so that clubs who are only used to handling 200-400 bottle competitions don't get slammed. I think that there are a lot more venues, and clubs, that can handle that sort of volume. My local HB club could easily handle a 300-350 entry competition, but we'd get killed by 750 entries.

4) If the BJCP were to spend money to encourage judges to attend, I'd prefer that it take the form of food or organizational support (e.g., arranging for motel discounts). Paying judges gets into troubles and bad feelings over expense accounts, mileage, out-of-town vs. local status, and all sorts of petty finance/politics. It also might put the AHA into bad legal territory.

5) The AHA should look at national trends in homebrew club membership, competitions and entries to past NHC to determine how to split up regions for future years. It's a great savings in time and trouble if you have a relatively local shipping/judging location. Certainly, the NE region needs to be split into its own territory. I'm not sure if NY could be its own region, but possibly NY and PA could.

6) The level of entries could be due to the economy. More people unemployed = more time to make beer. I have no idea if homebrewing is counter-recessional, though.

7) I'd personally hate to restrict entries or punish people who want to enter every category. If you're that dedicated, more power to you. I'd also be reluctant to punish clubs for entering large numbers of beers. It's not a big thing where I am, but some clubs set great store by collective wins.

Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 12:09:12 PM
As far as the issues faced in NY, it sounds like the flights must not have used queued judging.

We would have loved to use queued judging. The problem was that there were no stewards, and you need a steward who has a whole passel of clues if you are using queued judging. Also, even if there had been trained stewards, there just weren't enough judges at any one time to make queued judging work. You need at least two teams of judges working in parallel.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: mabrungard on May 08, 2011, 06:51:37 PM
Well with the Saratoga results, I'd say that we have already seen what happens when its not worth the regional judge's time to participate in a judging effort that doesn't present enough incentive.  A poor lunch is not going to going to get me to drive several hundred miles.  A nice lunch and dinner might.  Better recognition and support to the judges and organization staff are a must.  Unfortunately, that support is going to cost the NHC more.  As a past competitor, I would not hesitate to pay more to enter my beers.  I found that the real cost to competition was the shipping anyhow.  As has been mentioned previously, this is not a regular competition, its the Nationals.  It should cost more than the local contest. 

Tom mentioned increasing the number of regional competitions.  That is a good idea excepting that it makes the Final round of judging too large.  Then we would have a very tough time getting enough judges and space to hold that round at the convention.  I know Janice has expressed that concern before.  Cutting the number of beers in each category down to 2 from each regional would solve the problem, but I hate to think that the third place beer in one region was better than other beers from any other region.  Maybe the minimum score to qualify for the second round needs to be bumped to 35 or so?  I have to admit that I tasted too many beers that scored in the 20's in the five sessions I judged at the Indy Regional.  Maybe we need to make the NHC entry cost too expensive to make it feasible for anyone with a so-so beer to enter?  These are radical ideas, but we need to move forward soon.  Our competition committee clearly has their work cut out for themselves!
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 10, 2011, 11:00:45 AM
Tom mentioned increasing the number of regional competitions.  That is a good idea excepting that it makes the Final round of judging too large.

A slight increase in regional competitions, like going from 12 to 15, probably wouldn't break anything. I'd have to look at total entries per region to figure out where the additional demand is. I could easily see dividing up the West Coast, the Southwest and the Northeast, and possibly the Ohio Valley.

I like your idea of only having the 1st & 2nd place winners go on; that would immediately reduce the entries in the second round by a third.

A minimum score of 30 is already required to advance. Requiring a slightly higher score is a good idea. I'd set it a bit lower than 35, though, since 35+ starts to be "rare air" territory for some judges and also kills "love 'em or hate 'em" beers where one judge thinks the beer is great and the other finds faults. As a related thought, I don't think that there's any harm in handing out 1st - 3rd place ribbons regardless of score; the AHA just has to specify beers qualified for the second round.

It seems to me that the real problem is most clubs can only handle 450-500 entries. Here are some crackpot ideas:

1) Do multiple 1st rounds, but in waves over a few months. Judge the big beers, ciders and meads early, since they tend to survive aging and/or need more time to condition if you rebrew. Do the smaller beers second. Different clubs could handle different "waves."

2) Do multiple 1st rounds within the same region, but split the style categories between locations. For example, one competition judges just categories 1-14, while another competition in the same region just judges categories 15-29. That would have the effect of lowering the total number of entries per competition while keeping total entries stable and not increasing the number of regions. This would be twice the workload for the AHA, but would be mostly transparent to brewers, except for the possible hassle to have to mail your brews to two different locations.

3) Increase the number of regions, but don't judge all the second round beers at the NHC. You could have subsidiary second round competitions where some or all of the actual judging is done, with the winners being kept secret to be announced at the NHC conference. If you still wanted to see judging at the NHC, just do BoS there.

4) Go to a 3-tiered system, where each state/group of small states does its own competition, the winners go to a regional competition, and then the winners of regional competition are asked to rebrew and submit their beers to the NHC finals.

5) Ditch the current 1st and 2nd round system entirely. Let any AHA-sanctioned competition held from January to April have the option of declaring itself an "AHA NHC qualifying event" - basically, playing by the AHA's rules. 1st place winners in qualifying events who receive a certain minimum score (e.g., 33+) can automatically submit the beer to the NHC Finals.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: MDixon on May 10, 2011, 11:40:10 AM
As far as the issues faced in NY, it sounds like the flights must not have used queued judging.

We would have loved to use queued judging. The problem was that there were no stewards, and you need a steward who has a whole passel of clues if you are using queued judging. Also, even if there had been trained stewards, there just weren't enough judges at any one time to make queued judging work. You need at least two teams of judges working in parallel.

Not the case...what you need is a master pull sheet which everyone uses. Just tick off the next one so the other groups know it is gone from the cooler...EASY...


I believe in your earlier post you put in BJCP (number 4) and meant to type AHA...the BJCP doesn't do anything with the NHC other than to sanction it, provide a judge contact list, provide the style guidelines for download, etc same as with any other comp. Another point is the NHC requires you to use their database, I'm not sure why people try or even attempt to do something different, you really don't even need the database for the comp day other than printing out the pull sheets and that can be accomplished ahead of time.

When I was JD I had not heard of queued judging and spent a buttload of time breaking the flights up. Had to get the data out of Access, into Excel, into Word...OMG it was a chore...later that summer we judged queued in the 2nd round and it all became clear. Had I known about it, it would have saved me about 16 hours of work...
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 11, 2011, 07:43:33 PM
Not the case...what you need is a master pull sheet which everyone uses. Just tick off the next one so the other groups know it is gone from the cooler...EASY...

Doh! Of course! [Slaps forehead] It's still a huge convenience to have a smart steward to "referee" the action, though.

I believe in your earlier post you put in BJCP (number 4) and meant to type AHA...

Yep. Fixed.

When I was JD I had not heard of queued judging and spent a buttload of time breaking the flights up.

I think it's more typical to just give the judges assigned to a particular category the master pull list, then let them squabble over how to divide the entries. But, yeah, queued judging is better.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 11, 2011, 08:45:37 PM
I think it's more typical to just give the judges assigned to a particular category the master pull list, then let them squabble over how to divide the entries. But, yeah, queued judging is better.
Typical where?  I haven't been to a competition that did that in a really long time, and it was not a good competition.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 13, 2011, 04:56:50 AM
I think it's more typical to just give the judges assigned to a particular category the master pull list, then let them squabble over how to divide the entries. But, yeah, queued judging is better.
Typical where?  I haven't been to a competition that did that in a really long time, and it was not a good competition.

What I meant was that judges for a split flight get the pull sheet for the flight they're supposed to judge. They decide how to split it. I didn't mean to imply that they get the full flight list for all categories.

I've judged a number of well-managed competitions where there are four judges and one flight list. Usually, it works out fairly well. The judges either use queued judging or just decide to split the flight down the middle, with one pair of judges taking half of the list and the other pair taking the other half. Generally, if the flight doesn't lend itself to an even split, the judges go with queued judging, otherwise, the flight is split as evenly as possible.  Sometimes, I've actually seen the master pull sheet for the flight physically cut in half. Usually, total talking time is 5-10 minutes.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 13, 2011, 05:59:19 AM
Typical where?  I haven't been to a competition that did that in a really long time, and it was not a good competition.
What I meant was that judges for a split flight get the pull sheet for the flight they're supposed to judge. They decide how to split it. I didn't mean to imply that they get the full flight list for all categories.
That's what I thought you meant.  Typically I get a pull sheet for the flight and it is already split.  If we finish first we might take one from any flights in the same category (that we have to do a mini BOS with) that aren't quite done, but we don't have to decide how to split them.  We sit down, a steward brings us a bucket of beers, and we get started.  If we're doing queued judging we get a master list, someone brings a bucket of beers, and we get started.    It is all well planned out ahead of time.

I think this is one of the reasons that the Seattle NHC took Friday night and 2 sessions on Saturday - planning.  That and a lot of judges. ;)
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: bluesman on May 15, 2011, 02:36:53 AM
Typical where?  I haven't been to a competition that did that in a really long time, and it was not a good competition.
What I meant was that judges for a split flight get the pull sheet for the flight they're supposed to judge. They decide how to split it. I didn't mean to imply that they get the full flight list for all categories.
That's what I thought you meant.  Typically I get a pull sheet for the flight and it is already split.  If we finish first we might take one from any flights in the same category (that we have to do a mini BOS with) that aren't quite done, but we don't have to decide how to split them.  We sit down, a steward brings us a bucket of beers, and we get started.  If we're doing queued judging we get a master list, someone brings a bucket of beers, and we get started.    It is all well planned out ahead of time.

I think this is one of the reasons that the Seattle NHC took Friday night and 2 sessions on Saturday - planning.  That and a lot of judges. ;)

Tom...I agree. The key to Seattle's success was great planning and lots of judges which are the two key components to a successful comp IMO.

I also think it goes without saying that the location and accessibility of judges is also very important. Which in the case of Seattle was an important factor.
Title: Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
Post by: tschmidlin on May 15, 2011, 06:14:00 AM
I also think it goes without saying that the location and accessibility of judges is also very important. Which in the case of Seattle was an important factor.
We've done a lot in this area to increase and improve the judge pool over the last couple of years.  I'm not taking any credit for that, or for the first round this year.  But it has made a big impact.  Another big factor - experience.  If you don't know what you're getting in to it is really hard to plan for it.