Fifty beers....if that is what it takes to win the Ninkasi, that is running the tables, and that favors the richest and most prolific brewers among us. I would rather each brewer enter their best beer (one entry), but since most of us enter for feedback (rather than believing that we can actually win in such an environment) that would punish the moderate hobbyist for the excesses of the win at all cost set. Perhaps we need to institute limits. Enter as much as you like, but only the average of your 5 best entries count towards the Ninkasi, or better yet, have each brewer wishing to enter 5 beers for the Ninkasi have to choose their best 5 (if they entered more than 5) for consideration. They would have to know which 5 to choose.
Rewarding the person who enters 50 beers (albeit good beers to have enough to place that highly) seems like a rather silly award. Again, I always hate to see a competition dominated by just a few participants as I often see in brewing comps. If you are that good, it is time to give up your eligibility and get on the pro circuit.
I entered a single beer, and feel that it has a fighting chance (for what its worth). I think that it's a pretty good beer, and if I hear back that it has gone on to the second round, I will send in whatever they ask for and wait. I obviously will not win the Ninkasi award, but who cares... I only entered one beer for crying out loud! I learned a long time ago that if you enter two beers in a twelve beer competition that its no suprise when you come home with two 3rd place ribbons. The whole point of entering a beer in the nationals for me is taking something I'm proud of and seeing how it does. The worst I can do is get feedback from judges on how I might improve the beer, and then try again.
I'm not rich, so I can't game the system with 50 entries. The thought of spending that kind of money on a single beer contest boggles my mind. I tried hard competing in the midwest homebrewer of the year in 2009, and did well by sending one of each beer I brewed to regional competitions. It was cheaper than $9 per entry, and spread out over several months. For me, the situation has changed, an I can't afford many competitions or the NHC. But I still feel like my one entry has a chance of going on to the second round and even placing or winning. So, even if someone else has twenty entries ahead of me, I still think there's a chance my beer is better than their's and the judges will see it that way.