Thanks, boarding my flight from San Diego in a few minutes
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Hey Brewers, it's Justin.
I usually stay out of these things, and probably should this time too if I was a little smarter, but there are just a few things I feel the need to say. They are mostly clarifications to some of the myths spread by the "I heard's" and the "He said's". And then maybe a little of my humble opinion... Oh, and this will be long as s*** because once I get started I never shut up, so sorry in advance.
First, I wanted to clarify that the BN is not now, nor has it ever been, a paying sponsor of the NHC or AHA. All the work we do for the conference is done in trade and for the love of the hobby. We stream the awards ceremony for them, and in exchange we get a booth in the Homebrew Expo. Our merchandise sales at the booth help to subsidize the thousands of dollars we spend to be there each year, but still doesn't cover the costs. We do however, benefit from the exposure of being at the conference, which is a wonderful thing for the BN Company. But make no mistake, we are not paying to play, are not official sponsors, and the AHA owes us nothing in that regard.
Which leads me to the issue of equal speaking time at the ceremony, and my commandeering of the mic each year. I would first like to state that Gary Glass does not give me more mic time or even really "allow" me to give a speech. I pretty much just take the mic from him each year, like I imagine anyone else could do. I'm kind of a bull in a china shop when I get on a stage so most people have no choice but to hand over the goods, or suffer my endless ridicule.
But I will explain why I take the mic, and why I won't in any future awards. I took it the first year because I was elated that the BN club won COTY. I had been watching other clubs win for years at that point and was always just so excited for them. I could see the sheer happiness on their faces when their hard work paid off, it was just awesome. In fact, aside from Ninkasi, it had always been my favorite award. These people were pumped! So when we won that first time, I was just ecstatic for the brewers in my club. But when we were boo'd from that very first win, I was shocked, disappointed, and really, just let down. So in future years, I have stood up to defend my club members. I have a pretty thick skin, but I didn't feel like it was fair to them to be treated that way for making great beer and winning medals. So I stood up to try and subtly (sometimes not so subtly I guess), defend them. My hope was that I might be able to change the minds of some of those booing. I now see that that was a misguided belief, and clearly had the opposite effect. I did not mean to look like I was gloating, taking up your valuable time, or exercising a privilege others did not receive. I will not say a word on that stage again, and to the BN Club, you have my apologies for helping to perpetuate a behavior against you that I was trying to correct.
And then there's the part about the separation of the BN Club and the BN Company. The BN club was created by a listener as a reaction to a void listeners were feeling when competing in local competitions. They felt wholeheartedly attached as a group that, to them, was their club, and wanted to enter comps as such. To fix the void, someone created the club, registered it with the AHA, and so it was born (back in 2006 I believe, we did not win until 2011). It was not then, nor is it now, financially supported or even overtly encouraged by the BN Company. I do, however, agree with their right to form a club under the BN name, since they clearly felt it fit the description they were looking for. Also, if I'm completely honest, the fact that my listeners formed a club around the resources we were creating (and giving out for free) is a great source of pride for me. I'm proud that my work helped facilitate the kind of experience they were craving, and I'm proud that they formed an entity that fit their needs separate of my company. I'm not sure what else I could really say to define the separation, but I guess I'll also just add that the BN Company does not encourage any "flooding" of any competition. In fact, when we encourage competition, the sole reason we give is to get better feedback on your beer, and become a better brewer. It is also my understanding that the BN Club itself does not organize in any way to "flood" the first round NHC. They simply enter in their respective regions, and yes, the sheer number of them, by default, results in a very large number of entries.
So after this year's mess at the banquet, I left feeling pretty bummed again and it got me thinking. As I always want what's best for homebrewing, and homebrewers, is the BN Club winning COTY good for homebrewing? Based on the fact that so many people have misperceptions (which are still perceptions, unfortunately) about the rules, nature of the competition, who makes such rules (the AHA, btw), and the separation of my company from the club, I can't help but conclude that it is not good for homebrewing. And if the AHA membership is not going to unify and decide how they want to see things change, and then send that unified message to the AHA to ask that their association change things accordingly, then maybe I should do it for them instead.
So I got on the air this week and proposed 3 things to our members:
1. We stop competing as a club: The affect this will have is to stop the general bad behavior toward the BN Club, and by association, the BN Company, which I have to admit is a concern to me. I'd be an idiot if it wasn't. Unfortunately, it will also have the affect of leaving my club members feeling alienated once again (although they pretty much are now anyway). This weighs heavy on me as I care about those bunch of asshats. It also steals the opportunity for QUAFF, assuming they will win next year (duh!), to beat us fair and square, and I'm not happy about that either.
2. We split the BN Club into regions: This will reduce the sheer numbers of the club and, while not satisfying the needs of The BN Club to act together as a group like every other club, would at least kill the biggest challenge that the rules, as they exist now, pose to smaller clubs. Although the other big clubs still exist, so...
3. We continue with the status quo, follow the rules, and enter as a club like everyone else: I don't like this option at all (see the "good for homebrewing?" question). But many of my club members do. So do many of the larger clubs who know they can beat us. But it's also bad for the BN Company and leaves me in a bit of a lurch.
So at least you know where I am coming from and what I have proposed to my club to see if we can help the situation. For now, I will let them decide, but ultimately, I may have to form a dictatorship and make the best decision for them, if necessary. Since I'm also a member of the club, I will weigh in heavily on their decision.
There is one other thing I need to chime in on ( I told you this would be long as s***) and I'm a little sensitive about this one. There is a gross misrepresentation in this thread about what happened at the members meeting, and who it was directed towards. First, attend the members meeting people!! Not only does it give you the chance to participate in the organization you belong to, but you also then don't have to be part of the rumor mill like a high school freshman.
The topic of diversity in the AHA had been a theme throughout the week for GC members like myself, the AHA, and a panel presentation too. At the meeting there was an AHA member (and an awesome woman btw) who stood up to explain a disgusting commentary she overheard that week. The conversation actually occurred not at the conference, but in the line for my anniversary event. She made it clear that she was not directing this towards me, nor does she think this is a BN problem, but that it was a direct example of the kinds of things that the AHA should be looking out for as we look for ways to better serve women and other underrepresented groups in attendance of AHA events. There were other examples that happened at the conference as well, but this was the one she chose to bring up as it was a particularly offensive exchange. (see, I told you should attend the meeting. If you had, you wouldn't be sitting there dying to know what was said!! But I digress).
Now, I am not a member of the Diversity Subcommittee, but the person on the panel who is (also an amazing woman), became emotional (and rightly so) during the exchange and I stepped in to reply to the comment. I was the other person there qualified to do so given my educational background in gender studies and communication (yeah, I know, total shocker). So I chimed in and addressed the topic on behalf of the Governing Committee. In other words, I did what you elected me to do. So to read here that "Justin got an earful" and other such insinuations that any of that had to do with the BN, me, or even remotely related to this topic of my club, is frankly more disheartening to me than any of the boos or other negative reactions toward my club.
So while I respect your right to express your opinions openly here, I do ask that you kindly get your facts straight before spreading rumors about what happened at a meeting you didn't attend. This particular rumor is hurtful not only to my feelings (yeah, feelings, sorry), but to my effectiveness as your representative on the GC. I'm happy to be evaluated by my performance and effectiveness, but I do request that they be things that actually happened. And thank you to Drew for sticking up for me in this regard here in the thread.
Alright. Wow, s*** that's long. I'm, going to go back to my Stern-style whatever it is that we do now. Thanks for your time. Also, please remember that your voice will be heard by the Competition Sub-Committee about what you would like to see happen differently, and I am also always open to hearing intelligent commentary on the subject of the BN, the BN Club and the San Francisco Giants. My email is justin @ the company name
Very true. I skipped this year due to not being able to afford both two weeks apart. The FW festival is amazing.Not for those of us near CA. That would be the same weekend as the Firestone Walker Invitational which is my favorite craft beer festival of the year. :-pI would not like it on father's day. I think the weekend it's on is perfect. Weekend before would be even better. Any later in the summer and it will be expensive and harder for more people to get to.Weekend before would be fantastic.