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Messages - markaberrant

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Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC Entries closed....
« on: March 08, 2012, 09:48:15 AM »
One thing that has been mentioned before is paying judges for travel.  More money would help get more judges and set up more judging centers, and also raise the price of entry which possibly would limit the number of entries.  At some point you hit an equilibrium.  The only thing you need to realize is the dangers of growing too fast.

This would raise costs significantly, as well as entry fees.  You'd start getting into territory where you would need to also offer cash prizes, similar to BBQ comps, otherwise no one is going to enter just for the feedback, medals and glory.

Homebrewing has always been a very grassroots sorta thing, friendly competition, people willing to share recipes and ideas, and volunteer their time.  Making it more about money will certainly change this, though it may be where we are headed.  Again, a fundamental values sort of thing to consider.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC Entries closed....
« on: March 08, 2012, 09:43:02 AM »
Raise the entry fee substantially and there will be plenty of space and you'll stop a lot of the shotgunning.

Depends on if the long term goals of the AHA are to allow the competition to grow organically in a manageable fashion, or artifically stifle growth.  Kind of a fundamental "values" thing to consider.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC Entries closed....
« on: March 08, 2012, 09:41:38 AM »
Good ideas, Mark.  But I'm not following the math for round two.  Probably a typo.

I think this is certainly worth considering.  I do like how it opens up the number of first round judging centers and involves more local judges closer to their homes.

Yup, typo, original post has been modified.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC Entries closed....
« on: March 08, 2012, 07:08:34 AM »
My suggestion last year was to go from 2 rounds to 3 rounds.

Say have 20 1st round sites at 500 entries each = 10,000 entries (33% increase).  2nd round could be 4 sites with 420 entries each.  Then the final round would only have 336 entries to judge and would presumably be the cream of the crop, and you could also get away with only using National judges or higher in the final round, and it wouldn't be such a burden for the Conference itself.

There are pros and cons to this:
- increase the number of entries, and allows room for growth (you could increase 1st round sites to 25, or entries/site to 600, boosting total entries again to 12,000-12,500, and still not have to add another 2nd round site).
- lightens the load for all judging sites, very easy to judge 336-500 entries.
- increases coordination effort for the AHA, as you would have 3 rounds and 34 sites to coordinate.  This is not insignificant, they do A LOT of work already, though maybe increased entry revenues could allow more staff to be added?
- 1st round would likely have to start in Feb, 2nd round in April, 3rd round at NHC.  We all know what time can do to certain beers, but it also allows the opportunity to rebrew fresh entries.
- entrants may have to ship 3 entries to 3 different sites if they advance to the finals.

That being said, I have zero beef with the way things are run now.  Decisions regarding the competition are not taken lightly, there are a pile of people working very hard every year to make this thing work, I don't think anyone could predict the insane growth over the last few years.

Just my thoughts,

Homebrew Competitions / Re: 2012 NHC Canadian Qualifier/ALES Open
« on: February 27, 2012, 10:50:49 AM »
Online registration is now open for the 2012 NHC Canadian Region Qualifier/ALES Open. Entries are due April 5th. Head over to Good luck!

Beer Recipes / Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« on: February 14, 2012, 06:56:13 PM »

All good advice.  Good fermentation, maturation, and packaging are overlooked by many homebrewers. You can lose a bunch of points in a comp due to poor packaging process.

Got to tour Bells production facility a few years back.  John Mallet stressed that packaging was extremely important. "Why brew a great beer then mess it up with poor packing processes?" to paraphase what he said.

Yup, I just gave a presentation a few weeks ago on aging and cellaring homebrew.  Spent the first half discussing the importance of brewing a clean beer in the first place (it should taste good as soon as fermentation is done), and then ensuring you package it properly (as you say, nothing worse than screwing up a great beer during this stage).

Beer Recipes / Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« on: February 13, 2012, 09:36:17 PM »
IMO, recipe counts for maybe 10%, at most 20%, of the finished beer.  Ingredient choice and quality and brewing techniques are a much bigger factor.

I keep hounding our club members that recipes DO NOT really matter as long as they are in the ballpark.  You need a rock solid foundation that starts with cleaning/sanitation, then yeast/fermentation management, and then quality ingredients and consistent brew day/packaging processes.  Once all of these are in place, start working on perfecting your recipes.

Beer Recipes / Re: Style Questions
« on: February 13, 2012, 09:19:06 PM »
And I would seriously be willing to assume that Canadian tastes aren't too much different from USA, but I can't call myself an expert on that.

It really depends on if you are a Canadian that has only drank beers available in Canada, or if you have gone out of your way to drink the best the world has to offer.  We end up with individual palettes/judges that are not on the same page.  Now most judges will know the difference, but the most well known IPA in Canada is Alexander Keiths (made by Labbatts)... yet it is nothing but a fizzy yellow adjunct lager... talk about confusing your consumers.  Most of our craft made Canadian IPAs are more like American Pale Ales...

It has gotten better, but we are still light years behind the US in terms of craft beer culture.

Beer Recipes / Re: Style Questions
« on: February 04, 2012, 09:07:13 PM »
APA and AAA - while technically not required, there is an expectation for a fresh hop aroma, typically achieved by dry hopping.  On average, Canadian judges don't quite expect the same level of hop character as Amercian, but this is changing, and if you advance to the 2nd round, you are definitely going to need a hoppy fresh example to stand a chance.

Saison - in my experience, many Canadian judges have little to no understanding of what a saison should taste like (I remember entering one and getting knocked by all 3 judges for not enough body/sweetness and too much carbonation).  You can certainly score well with 3711.  What comps did you enter the saison in?  Spicing is ok too, as long as it is subtle.

American Wheat - as already stated colour only counts for 1 point, but it still needs to taste like an american wheat.

I definitely encourage you to enter the NHC Canadian Qualifer!

Homebrew Competitions / 2012 NHC Canadian Qualifier/ALES Open
« on: January 21, 2012, 02:16:03 PM »
Hello fellow Canadian Homebrewers! The Ale and Lager Enthusiasts of Saskatchewan are hosting the 2012 NHC Canadian Regional Qualifier/ALES Homebrew Open competition from April 9th to 14th, 2012 at the Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Not only is this the largest competition in Canada, but it is the only way for Canadians to advance to the National Homebrew Competition, which is the largest homebrew competition in the world. Additionally, any medals won will earn you points towards the Canadian Brewer of the Year award.

Our competition is sanctioned by the American Homebrewers Association and the Beer Judge Certification Program. Judging is conducted by certified BJCP judges using the 2008 Style Guidelines.

If you are interested in attending as a judge/volunteer/guest, please get in touch with us at There will be a full schedule of top notch social activities to partake in, including Brewers’ Dinners, one-off cask events, and guest speakers.

The competition is open to all 28 BJCP categories of homebrewed beer, mead and cider. Medals and prize packages are awarded to Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each category. Prize packages consist of a wide variety of donated items from our many sponsors throughout North America.

The major awards are:
Best of Show – Awarded to the single best beer entry.
Homebrewer of the Year – based on total points earned from category medals (entries must score a minimum of 30 points to count towards HoY)
Rookie of the Year – all first time entrants are eligible, based on total points earned from category medals (entries must score a minimum of 30 points to count towards RoY)
Mead Maker of the Year – Awarded to the single best mead entry
Cider Maker of the Year – Awarded to the single best cider entry
Club of the Year - based on total points earned from category medals (entries must score a minimum of 30 points to count towards CoY)

Please check out our website at for full competition details. You can also contact us at with any questions. Good luck!

Kegging and Bottling / Re: In Keg Dry Hopping...
« on: January 20, 2012, 11:39:18 AM »
I use whole hops in muslin bags to dry hop in the keg. Occasionally I'll get a few particles in the first couple of pours which are usually a bit cloudy with some yeast as well.  After that, the beers have been clear as a bell until the kick with the hops left in.

Same here.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: In Keg Dry Hopping...
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:10:18 AM »
I posted this on another forum yesterday:

I only dryhop in the keg. I use hop socks with marbles (boiled first), fill them with hops, then toss them in and leave until the keg is empty.

One thing I have learned about dryhopping is that it must be done at room temperature (say 18C) for a period of time. If you dry hop at serving temps, you only get a very grassy unpleasant character. I add my dryhops, leave at room temp for 5-7 days, then move to the kegerator.

Many also have concerns about leaving hops in the keg for an extended period. I have discovered that this works incredibly well at maintaining a fresh hop character, but it is critical that you keep the keg cold after the initial 5-7 days at room temp. If you don't, you will get a harsh astringent hop character.

I only use citrusy "american" leaf hops that have been kept in excellent condition for dry hopping. Pellet hops have not yielded as good as a result for me.

I have played around with this extensively over the last couple years, and these observations and results have been very consistent.

When I am not experimenting and instead following my best practices, I have found it almost impossible to add too many dry hops - they impart zero bitterness/harshness, just massive amounts of juicy, citrus, dank character that does not fade away at anywhere close to same rate as similar commercial products (even when using relatively small amounts such as 1-2oz).

The Pub / Re: What's the Weather Like Where You Are?
« on: January 19, 2012, 11:38:38 AM »
It has been -45 here all week.  It's a little chilly.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Begian Dark vs Quad
« on: January 06, 2012, 03:18:01 PM »
This has bothered me for years, and it came up again in discussion ealier today with some other folks.  I would really like to hear Gordon Strong or Kristen England answer this question.

Ingredients / Re: Comments on Summit Hops?
« on: January 06, 2012, 12:42:10 PM »
I've gotten the garlic/onion from Green Flash

Same here!

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