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Messages - tmsnyder

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Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 14, 2013, 06:10:01 AM »
Hi Michael,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 14, 2013, 05:56:15 AM »
Hi Michael,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 05, 2013, 08:07:32 AM »
If you guys don't see a problem with the way the NHC is operating right now, and that it's clearly caused by a lack of willing judges and site organizers, then I'm not sure what planet you're on.

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

Oh really, _that's_ the bottleneck?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The argument might be that because of the length of time between the 1st and 2nd round, someone's 2nd or 3rd from Round 1 might age better and end up actually being better for Round 2.  My counter to that is, well what about 4th place, and 5th place?  Maybe they'll be better for Round 2 too, why don't they make it on the Round 2 table.   The beer that wins will have to be the best beer on the table TWICE; Round 1 and Round 2.  THAT beer deserves the BOS. 

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 04, 2013, 02:37:35 PM »
I'm a judge to be a better brewer, and to support the local homebrew community.  I've helped dozens of brewers become judges by administering bjcp exams in Buffalo, NY.  We have something like 6 National ranked judges in our club and dozens of Certified and Recognized.  I have driven hundreds of miles to judge beer, and I probably will again.  And it wasn't quid pro quo, I've always judged _Way_ more beer than I've ever entered.

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

+ a billionty and twelve!

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 04, 2013, 11:49:40 AM »
If there were more judges like you there wouldn't be this problem.  But there aren't,  and there is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 04, 2013, 09:31:06 AM »
I disagree.  You need the judges to be dedicated to the competition in order to have a large enough judge pool.  Right now, there is little incentive besides 'taking one for the team'. 

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

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

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

  But then there is a chance that the competition becomes a competition of judges.

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 04, 2013, 07:47:35 AM »
Amanda's number from this year is only $3 per entry?!  My point is two years ago the number was $2 or 3 dollars IIRC.  So it's still the same amount. 

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

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

my original point is that it appears the budget is bigger than in previous years...

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 04, 2013, 06:38:59 AM »

To judge how many entries?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

I was slightly off in my memory, it's $2360. I was $140 high.

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 03, 2013, 07:52:21 PM »

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


from the rule changes:

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


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

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

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


Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 03, 2013, 07:46:19 PM »
Tom, can you set the record straight on this?  What kind of support does a judging center get from the AHA when they host a 1st round site?   

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

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

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

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

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

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

Todd Snyder
Buffalo, NY
BJCP National Judge E0546

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

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

It is a ton of work to run a judging center and people get burned out and don't want to do it year after year.  That is totally understandable, and we shouldn't put too much pressure on these valuable volunteers.  If you want to run a judging center then talk to Janis - starting in July.  If you want your city to host a judging center year in and year out, I'd suggest you get a small crew of volunteers and rotate the organizer so they can train others and maintain the desire to do it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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