Well, here is another spin on the decline of homebrewing...seriously bad homebrew.
Yesterday I helped judge the Fresh Hop Ale Fest here in Yakima. This is my 3rd or 4th year doing this. About half of the beers had serious flaws. Two were utterly undrinkable. Diacetyl, DMS, Phenolic, or Solventy messes. There is nothing enjoyable about drinking band-aids or peppery to the point of being unable to taste anything else for 15+ minutes.
On one hand it is a great way to learn. Send your bad beer in to get fix info. On the other hand I'll bet a lot of people brew one or two beers like that and give up.
Help is good.
Now you know why I stopped judging that competition.
Oh, and you forgot the broccoli and bales of hay they dropped in.
Its a very different set of beers than we get in the "normal" comps around here.
Sorry about a temporary hiatus from the thread topic:
Yes. I think that the timing of the festival militates against good beer in two ways. Because it occurs in the middle of harvest, not all varieties are available so brewers are limited to few, resulting in sameness. Then, again the time crunch factor tempts homebrewers (and a few commercial brewers) to shortcut & speedup the process which is seldom coincidental with good beer.
I know the primary reason is weather related given that it is an outdoor event, so I'm certain it will not be moved. It makes me wish for a Hop Fest & Competition at another time. Good beer should be the goal.
*end of hiatus*