Sorry it took me so long to respond, I spent the last two days on jury duty (I was called twice, did not end up hearing a case) and now I'm behind on several things. That aside, ok, lots of comments, but many of the responses have it exactly right.
I'm wondering if there is a reason why all first round judging sites are the same size. It seems like if Canadians want to organize a first round, but there are relatively few Canadian members, it would be fine to add a 12th site in Canada with a lower entry limit (like 200 instead of 750).Wouldn't that be sort of unfair to everyone entering in a US region? That is, it'd be a lot easier to place high when you're only competing against 200 entries vs 750 (divided by number of categories, of course).
Correct - those that entered smaller regions would have an advantage and that is fundamentally unfair. If we expanded the number of regions to any place that could take 250 entries (Canadian or not) we would get a lot more entries, but we would end up with more in the second round and we can't handle that.
This has nothing to do with the ability of the Canadian region to deal with the number of entries (they can), and everything to do with the distribution of membership. Even if we had 50 sites in the US that could handle 750 entries each, the second round could not handle 4200 entries. Right now we are comfortable with 11 first round sites. That will go up in the future once we are sure that we can handle the growth of the competition, but we can't expand in a Big Bang like fashion.
If we had 20,000 Canadian members and 20,000 US members, the conference would probably bounce back and forth between countries every year and the first round sites would be evenly split.
Because most of the judges at the Second round are from out of town, and are giving up their first day of NHC to judge beers. We can't force them to give up the entire weekend, and most of them aren't going to show up over a week in advance to judge.This ain't a local competition. Most judges have traveled and then give up the first day of technical session to judge. That is a lot to ask as it is.
Yes and yes. This will be my 9th conference, 8th consecutive. I have been to conferences when the competition dragged into the second day, and let me tell you it sucks for judges. You expect them to fly across the country, pay for a hotel, and spend two days judging beers while the majority of people are in educational seminars that judges also paid for but can't attend? Seriously? As hard as it is to get good judges, they get a lot of perks to participate in the judging. Well, maybe some
perks. Ok, free breakfast and lunch, plus an awesome judging seminar, nothing else.
But the judging seminar is usually excellent.
We discussed many many options before making these decisions. We could cut the number of entries that get forwarded to the second round (only golds for 250 entry competitions), but this was roundly rejected. Many 3rd place finishers in the first round win gold in the 2nd, and let's face it, I've had a beer get a 45 in the first round and a 23 in the second. Judging is inconsistent. The 2nd round has some of the best, most experienced judges in the world, and the more high quality beers we can put in front of them the better the competition will be. Which tells me that my 45 first round beer wasn't really that good I guess.
Really, we want the most people to participate in the competition as possible, and we talked about a whole bunch of ways to make that happen and settled on what we thought were the best options. It would be great if we could double or triple the number of entries per first round site, but there aren't too many regions who can handle 1500 or 2250 entries in a weekend. We considered moving to a three round format, but that would push things back so the first round would be in January or so. We talked about an MCAB format, but we want it to be all inclusive. A lot of people who really care about this spent a lot of time trying to come up with the best solutions for the most members possible. The solutions we arrived at are not ideal for everyone but we felt they were in the best interest of the competition this year.
It was not our intention to ostracize our Canadian members. I would hope that was obvious but I guess it bears saying. Communication with the Canadian region could have been handled better. I take 100% responsibility for that. Period.
If you really want to improve the situation, and I know you all do, become a judge and then go judge the competition. It will help us solve the numbers problems at the first and
second round judging sites, and let us get through the number of entries in a reasonable time so we can expand the number of entries permitted. I would love if we could remove all caps and let every member enter as many times as they want. But for that we need a LOT more judges. Or a lot fewer members I guess, but no one thinks that's a good idea, do they?
I welcome any constructive suggestions to help improve the situation for 2014 given the very real limitations we face.