- Removing Canada and adding another US site will increase pressure on judging the 2nd round. I thought this was the problem trying to be addressed?
Yes and no - we need to weigh the growth in entries for the competition vs. the availability of judges in the 2nd round. The number of beers that make it to the 2nd round is not going down in the foreseeable future. In this way we are increasing by a few hundred the number of entries that can be entered in the 1st round while only slightly increasing the number of entries that will be in the 2nd round. Hopefully as the conference continues to grow the number of judges that attend will also grow and we will be able to handle the growth in entries, but we can't risk a situation where we have the 2nd round judging lasting for more than one day or even for going late on a single day.
- While I respectfully appreciate this is the AMERICAN Homebrewers Assocation, the ALES Club in Regina has been an NHC 1st round qualifier since 2004 (and there has been a Canadian Qualifier a lot longer than that). We went through some lean years and some growing pains, but our volunteers have worked very hard over the last 9 qualifiers to build it up, and to promote the AHA in general. I've personally invested a ton of time and effort over the last 5 years to make our qualifying competition the best competition in Canada, and I would now put it up against any competition ANYHWERE in terms of quality, value, and professionalism. If you read Zymurgy last year, you'll recall an article where Janis singled us out as a qualifier that is extremely well run and easy to deal with.
The ability of ALES to run the competition really had nothing at all to do with moving the location - it wasn't even a consideration. And Canada is in (North) America anyway.
The expansion of your judging pool is fantastic, but again, not a consideration.
- In Canada, the NHC is very highly respected as a competition, and as an extension, so is our qualifying competition. I've been in many discussions with fellow Canadian homebrewers where they say that our competition is what seperates the men from the boys, and that winning medals at other competitions don't mean nearly as much. Qualifying for the 2nd round is a big deal.
I would encourage Canadians to continue to enter the competition, despite the new difficulties. Our Canadian members are now on the same playing field as all of the other non-US AHA members. It's a crappy playing field because of the shipping issues though.
- I fully respect the AHA, and I can see things from their point of view. But from the point of view of a 6-year NHC entrant, a 5-year co-ordinator and judge of the Canadian Qualifier, and as a 6-year Canadian AHA member, I can't help but feel like I have been told I am no longer welcome or needed.
Sorry, but this was not our intention at all. Let me run some numbers by you that may better help you understand the decision.
In 2011, only 352 beers out of 750 possible were entered in the Canadian region. In 2012 that number was 541. So the region does not fill. Further, in 2011 only 75 beers out of 84 qualified for the 2nd round due to combining of categories, and of those 75 only 38 were submitted. That's about 50% of those who qualified and 45% of those who could have. In 2012, 84 qualified but only 53 (63%) were submitted.
We could have opened up the Canadian region to US members, but how would Canadians feel when their region was filled by US brewers in less than 24 hours, effectively blocking them out?
Further, when Gary says there are "vastly more AHA members in the U.S. than in Canada", it really is VASTLY more. There are fewer than 250 AHA members across all of Canada, who in 2012 had a region to themselves which gives an average of 3+ slots per Canadian member. There are twice as many non-US members outside of Canada. Compare that to the 10 US regions for roughly 35,000 members, for an average of less than 0.25 slots per member in 2012. We serve more members by moving the site to the US than by leaving it in Canada.
If you want to discuss ideas for how we can increase participation in a Canadian first round site and increase Canadian membership in the AHA let me know. I would certainly entertain ideas for how we can bring a first round site back to Canada and make it as successful as it can be, but that has to take into consideration the problems we're facing. And unless we can figure out a way to drastically increase the speed of judging without sacrificing quality for both the first and second rounds there are limits to how fast we can expand the competition. We can't increase the entries
at first round sites because many of them are stressed at 750. And we can't increase the number
of first round sites because the second round can't handle a massive increase in the number of entries there either.
Getting more judges everywhere is our best solution, and hopefully the recent changes to the BJCP program will help with that, but that will take time to build the numbers we need and it is out of the AHA's control.
I'm happy to talk about this more, so let me know if you have any questions.