« on: December 30, 2010, 10:37:18 AM »
There is no right answer when it comes to judging beers. It's a qualitative process, so of course feedback is going to differ. If you are looking for an absolute, then the only recourse I can offer is to submit your beer to whatever god you worship, if any. You may have to wait a while for feedback, however.
As for why people enter competitions? That's like asking why people do anything at all. Everyone's motivations are different. But in general, people tend to be competitive. Pretty much every hobby or activity I can think of has some sort of opportunity for competition. Some would argue it's human nature. If the AHA didn't offer to run a national competition, I'd bet they would be strongly pressured by the membership to do so.
I can respect that someone who has been brewing and competing for many years might get burnt out of competitions. I don't think of myself as having a strongly competitive disposition. I am a new brewer, however, and am starting to enter competitions because I want feedback. I'm not expecting it to provide me anything other that another person's (hopefully) objective perspective.
As for clubs: My club picks four styles a year randomly for informal competition. I wouldn't say it's the driving focus of our club at all. We have a diverse group and we have diverse activities. If you are not satisfied with how you club is run you are free to start your own club with a different set of goals.