I'm late to this thread as I spend some more time in the fine Seattle area after the conference. Washington State should be proud! (Although you need to work on your ball team - fans too subdued - you should be yelling at your players - the east coast in me! :-)
This was my first AHA conference and the event was fantastic. I did think the awards dinner ended a bit uncomfortably... I did not hear any boo's, but there was a noticeable toned down cheering, and the "I can hear the rules changing comment" seemed almost prepared.
I did not cheer as loudly as I mostly shouted for the individuals, and was hoping for a new club or Washington state club to win (I'm from PA, but always root for the home teams!). I would have been subdued towards DOZE, ST Paul or Quaff too. (I boo the Yankee's and Patriots, root for the Cub's very year - just my nature)
I read JP's post and was disappointed with the public rant - being just what he was criticizing, petty.
At the event, I did heard varying opinions on if BNarmy is a club, but in any organization, you are going to have varying opinions. It is naive to think all have same views - hell, we can't agree on decoction or no decoction - so what.
IMHO, I considered the Brewing Network and BNArmy, as a commercial media enterprise. I guess I would find it odd to have a BeerSmith Brew Club, White Labs Club, Northern Brewer Beer or other business club.
That all said, they are a Club per AHA and I would hope that no special rules are made to treat them differently. That would be dangerous for the organization.
Does the BNArmy have an advantage - yes - timing - there was no internet podcasts 20 years ago. They took advantage of the internet - using it in an engaging, entertaining, and informative way. So they ended up with energetic, passionate brewers who entered a lot of beer in the NHC. Something any club can do if they choose to.
So my winning strategy for 2013 for my club is simple.. get about 10-15 of your club brewers making great beers and ensure they set the alarm for the registration date/time for NHC 2013.
I hope to see you all in Philly.