Using Gordon Strongs 3 entries to 1 medal ratio, if you want to be confident that one of your beers will get a medal, 9 entries is not a lot i.e. 3 advance and 1 places in the 2nd round.
Things have changed a lot since I went to my first NHC in 2003. I have entered the last 3 and the competition is getting pretty tough.
The conference location will be an issue in the future, it will need to be in a bigger convention city with good sized hotels that can handle a bunch of people. I remember when the NCAA final 4 was plangyed in 20,000 seat arenas, or smaller. It used to be at Kemper arena in KC often when the NCAA was headquartered in KC. Not anymore, it is in larger cities with a stadium large enough to seat a huge crowd, adn the hotels that can handle that. Not saying it will be that big, but the needs of a larger conference will force changes to where it can be.