Author Topic: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?  (Read 39092 times)

Offline darwin18

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #210 on: March 05, 2013, 01:42:07 PM »
Here's my 2 cents regarding the NHC 2013 competition:

Solutions people seem to be putting forward include:

1) Restrict entries to AHA members or give AHA members preferential treatment for entry submittal.

My thoughts regrading this is that this competition is the "National Homebrew Competition" not the "Annual American Homebrewer's Association Competition".  If you want to restrict it to AHA members or even give AHA members preference, you should probably rename the competition to reflect that.

2) Jack up entry prices to reduce entry submittals.

You could make an entry extremely cost prohibitive such as setting at $100 an entry, and people still pay to send in 15 entries.  At what point also does this competition become a rich man/woman's game?  The $17 price tag for non-AHA members is already higher than I believe any other BJCP competition.  My expectation is that for a $17 fee, my score sheets are going to be well filled out and have positive feedback, and the judges all are going to be BJCP. 

3) Eliminate the need for BJCP judges and let anyone judge.

If people are sending in $17 per entry than they have the right and expectation that their entry is going to be judged by a qualified person.  Currently, the accepted definition of a qualified judge for homebrew competitions is someone in the BJCP program.  Further, the BJCP has high standards for their judges, their score sheets, and their competitions. 

4) Make the competition even bigger by adding more entry sites.

The problem with this, is that the hobby is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds every year.  The demand to enter this competition is way higher right now than the capacity to organize, run, and judge it.  Organizing and running a competition is a great deal of work.  Remember that these people are volunteers doing what they can to help a hobby they love. 

My opinion:

The NHC is considered by many homebrewers to be THE competition.  The awards and recognition that go along with this competition are well known and desired.  If the AHA wants a competition that determines a National Homebrewer of the Year, then I think the competition needs to change as follows:

Make the NHC competition a qualification event.  What that means is that you need your entry or entries to qualify for the NHC first round for you to enter them.  I would recommend that you could make qualification to the NHC as easy as having beers that place 1, 2, 3 in a BJCP-competition with a minimum average score (let's say 35).  Beers that meet this criteria earn "a ticket" to the NHC first round.  The goal of the first round of NHC would be judge these beers, and then send the winners onto the second round as it is currently set up.

I believe this is the really only viable for the competition to remain relevant facing the current and future demand.  The current format we experienced last week was a total crap shoot.  If you have a good internet connection, picked the right regional location, and had a great deal of luck and persistence you may have registered the 15 beer limit.  I suspect most people only got 4 - 5 in, if they were lucky.

The current competition format is set up for volume rather than quality.  If this is truly the prestigious competition that many consider it to be, then the goal should be quality over quantity.  Let the beers get vetted and judged, and the pool of entries reduced before you even get to round 1 of NHC.  Would this require coordination with the BJCP, competitions, and the AHA - absolutely.  Is it a great deal of work?  I don't really think so.  The BJCP is already tracking these competitions to award steward and judging points - the AHA could certainly peruse the results page and update their tracker accordingly. 

I do know one thing, the crap shoot we all went through last week is something I want to avoid going through again. 
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #211 on: March 05, 2013, 02:00:55 PM »
You make good points, D18.  I think having qualifiers turns the NHC into another MCAB and if that's what it needs to be I think a lot of people won't bother with it any more and the demand will shrink.  But, even though I was able to get a few entries in this year, I am rethinking going through what I went through this year again in the future.  It was quite a mess and I am sure there are some great beers that will be missed, but there will be many that will be less than wonderful that made it in as well as happens in most comps (at least the one's I've judged in ;)).
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Offline AleForce

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #212 on: March 05, 2013, 02:27:40 PM »
Although I was able to register one entry this year before things were halted,  I'd take that process over what darwin18 just suggested.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 02:31:37 PM by AleForce »
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Offline jeffjm

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #213 on: March 05, 2013, 02:28:26 PM »

The solution is simple.  It's a BOS style competition .  Let's say you're judging Dry Stout.  You set the 11 1st place entries from the 11 Round 1 judge centers out on the table and pour them for a table of 4 well qualified judges.  That's almost a 3 oz sample per judge which is plenty.  Out of those 11, they pick the one that best represents the style.  That is first place overall, 1st BOS Dry Stout.   The 2nd place beer from the same Round 1 judging center is then moved up onto the table b/c there is a chance that it might be the next best dry stout at the competition.  It is poured and tasted against the other 10.  Of those 11, the best one is chosen and it is the 2nd BOS Dry Stout.   Which ever one is chosen as 2nd BOS, you move the beer that was sent underneath it from the same Round 1 judge site up onto the table to make it 11 on the table again.   Then you choose the best one from those 11.   That's 3rd BOS Dry Stout. 

You might find that the top 3 came from the same judge center.  You might find that the top 3 came from all different judge centers, or any combination.  But the root idea is, you don't re-judge all the beers.  You have to trust the Round 1 judging centers to put them in the right order.

This way you could have a BOS style 2nd round for 11 judging centers, up to 30.  11 would be a piece of cake.  I've been on BOS's with 30 beers on the table.  It can be done.  Then you could have 30 Round 1 judge centers.


This is an interesting idea, but it's a pretty radical change, and we aren't gonna have 30 judging centers in the first round any time soon. Why not take its basic premise - reduce the number of second-round entries judged - and apply it by region? If we only allow first and second place from each region  to advance, we cut the total load on the finals by 1/3, which means we can then add 1/3 more judging centers in the first round. That only gets us up to maybe 14 total judging centers and 10,500 first round entries, but it's a definite capacity improvement. Does anyone think we can have more than 14 judging centers next year?

It also eliminates the problem of potential silver medalists going unopened. There's a possibility of somebody taking 3rd place in a regional not being able to place in the finals with a beer that's aged well, or been re-brewed, or whatever - but we already take that risk with whatever loses out in a mini-BOS in the first round.

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Offline smoga

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #214 on: March 05, 2013, 03:26:09 PM »

Make the NHC competition a qualification event.  What that means is that you need your entry or entries to qualify for the NHC first round for you to enter them.  I would recommend that you could make qualification to the NHC as easy as having beers that place 1, 2, 3 in a BJCP-competition with a minimum average score (let's say 35).  Beers that meet this criteria earn "a ticket" to the NHC first round.  The goal of the first round of NHC would be judge these beers, and then send the winners onto the second round as it is currently set up.

I do know one thing, the crap shoot we all went through last week is something I want to avoid going through again.

I have a real problem with this requirement. Not all of us live in Beervana - some of us live in Beerpuragtory. (aka Utah) There is one and only one local BJCP-competition here per year. So, for me, availability to get a "ticket" rests with a bunch of non certified judges who tasted a beer back in August. Not to mention getting consistant results from non certified beer judges is one of the most frustrating parts of the submitting your beers. I have had beers with 10+ point swings between competitions (in Seattle). I believe this approach is also a crap shoot.  Additionally, the logistics of controlling, verifying, registering and tracking beers & competitions would create a enormous overhead for the AHA. I have and will brew specifically for the NHC.

Allow Pre-Registration. Restrict the number of entries. Up the cost (not dramatically). 1st day AHA members only and only in your local district/judging center.   

Offline darwin18

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #215 on: March 05, 2013, 05:49:38 PM »
I have a real problem with this requirement. Not all of us live in Beervana - some of us live in Beerpuragtory. (aka Utah) There is one and only one local BJCP-competition here per year. So, for me, availability to get a "ticket" rests with a bunch of non certified judges who tasted a beer back in August. Not to mention getting consistant results from non certified beer judges is one of the most frustrating parts of the submitting your beers. I have had beers with 10+ point swings between competitions (in Seattle). I believe this approach is also a crap shoot.  Additionally, the logistics of controlling, verifying, registering and tracking beers & competitions would create a enormous overhead for the AHA. I have and will brew specifically for the NHC.

Allow Pre-Registration. Restrict the number of entries. Up the cost (not dramatically). 1st day AHA members only and only in your local district/judging center.

You can't enter out of state competitions?   ;)  I recall entering one in Wyoming a few years ago just because there was nothing else available at the time.  I'm in North Carolina. 

As I said before, if you want to make it the "Annual American Homebrewers Association Competition" then by all means please restrict the entries to AHA members only.  Up the entries to $100 per entry - you'll still have people maxing out entries.  I also don't think it's fair to members in the Northeast to be restricted to a location like New York and fight each other (sounds like last week) to get their entries registered while members in other less populated regions are able to get more entries in. 

As for tracking for a hypothetical qualifier - all you would need is for the competition coordinator to upload the scores and results to a database assessable by the AHA.  The BJCP tracks judging points and steward points, and it's a volunteer organization - I'm sure the AHA could handle this. 

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Offline gsandel

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #216 on: March 06, 2013, 01:47:17 PM »
I wanted to give an update on the "second chance" registration process.  I recieved an e-mail a few days ago saying that since I was able to register but didn't get the chance to enter beers, that I would be eligible for the second chance entry starting today at 1pm (runs until tomorrow or when slots fill).

I didn't have high hopes, because I am at work, was scheduled in a meeting until 1:30pm and didn't have the latest browser (that was needed last time)....but, I am pleased to say that I got entry numbers 386 and 394 (out of 900 or so, I think).  It will fill quickly, it seems.

The system worked smoothly, payment was easy, and I got a nice confirmation from Janis immediately via e-mail.  I entered two beers, representing both my brother and I (both AHA members), cognizant of others wishing to enter too.  We are thankful for the opportunity to compete, and I look forward to helping at the denver site in April (and going to my first NHC in June).

So, whatever you learned AHA/BA, please remember it for GABF later this year.

My only questions left are: 1. I can't tell which region I entered into.  2. I looked for a place to download my bottle labels (or instructions/deadlines for getting my beer in), but didn't see (or didn't understand). 3. What can I expect next?
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Offline garyg

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #217 on: March 06, 2013, 02:10:15 PM »
My only questions left are: 1. I can't tell which region I entered into.  2. I looked for a place to download my bottle labels (or instructions/deadlines for getting my beer in), but didn't see (or didn't understand). 3. What can I expect next?

1. We will notify you within the next few business days once your entries have been assign to a judge center
2. You won't be able to download labels until you are assigned to a judge center
3. Once you get the email mentioned in 1, you can access your record, download labels and shipping info.
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Offline bobby_m

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #218 on: March 07, 2013, 12:56:13 PM »
I understand Darwin18's point about it being the NHC and not the AHAC but let's be really clear here. The competition is run by the AHA so it is their competition afterall. The final round is judged at the conference and the awards are announced at the end. I understand that judge proximity is the main reason why it is coupled with the conference. In any case, AHA is national in scope so a huge competition open their membership is still National in scope. Even if they limited 100% of entries to AHA members, they don't need to rename it.

I do think that priority for initial entry should be given to two groups of people, not necessarily in any preferred order. The first is for those already registered with a conference pass. I could see the first day entry process doing a quick lookup to see if the entrant's AHA number is associated with a conference registration. All that I ask is that if someone is willing to plunk $2K down to attend the conference, they should have ONE shot at an entry. Otherwise, banquet is already a total let down.

Registration could go like this:
-AHA Member? Yes (1) No (2)
-Conference Attendee Yes (A) No (B)
- First Region Preference
-Second Region Preferenc
-How many entries would you like to register (dropdown with any number up to 30) This would just be used for statistics gathering.

Day 1: 1A gets dibs on 1 entry into their 1st pref region
Day 2: 1B gets dibs on 1 entry """"
Day 3: Compare remaining entry spots to individuals who wanted to enter but still have not and determine if a lottery needs to be enacted to fill remaining spots in any region.

Though it sounds quite socialist, I find it much more in the spirit of the purpose of the comp and conference to have more people with single entries than some with 15 or 10 and many with none at all.

Just thinking of my own club, I know of one person who got all 15 entries in. I'm sure that's really lucky but there were a few others who wanted to get 1-3 entries in who never made it. Even in this small pool of people I personally know, I'd much rather each of them got 2-3 in or yes, even just one.

Yes, unfortunately the situation makes Ninkasi way more about entry persistence or luck any absolute brewing prowess. The severe entry caps will negate the Ninkasi but I think it's way more important for people to be psyched about the possibility for ONE medal than a few with their eyes on Ninkasi. It just doesn't work in this system nor any system that can be imagined in the future.

Offline realbeerguy

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #219 on: March 07, 2013, 07:37:22 PM »
I understand Darwin18's point about it being the NHC and not the AHAC but let's be really clear here. The competition is run by the AHA so it is their competition afterall. The final round is judged at the conference and the awards are announced at the end. I understand that judge proximity is the main reason why it is coupled with the conference. In any case, AHA is national in scope so a huge competition open their membership is still National in scope. Even if they limited 100% of entries to AHA members, they don't need to rename it.

I do think that priority for initial entry should be given to two groups of people, not necessarily in any preferred order. The first is for those already registered with a conference pass. I could see the first day entry process doing a quick lookup to see if the entrant's AHA number is associated with a conference registration. All that I ask is that if someone is willing to plunk $2K down to attend the conference, they should have ONE shot at an entry. Otherwise, banquet is already a total let down.

Registration could go like this:
-AHA Member? Yes (1) No (2)
-Conference Attendee Yes (A) No (B)
- First Region Preference
-Second Region Preferenc
-How many entries would you like to register (dropdown with any number up to 30) This would just be used for statistics gathering.

Day 1: 1A gets dibs on 1 entry into their 1st pref region
Day 2: 1B gets dibs on 1 entry """"
Day 3: Compare remaining entry spots to individuals who wanted to enter but still have not and determine if a lottery needs to be enacted to fill remaining spots in any region.

Though it sounds quite socialist, I find it much more in the spirit of the purpose of the comp and conference to have more people with single entries than some with 15 or 10 and many with none at all.

Just thinking of my own club, I know of one person who got all 15 entries in. I'm sure that's really lucky but there were a few others who wanted to get 1-3 entries in who never made it. Even in this small pool of people I personally know, I'd much rather each of them got 2-3 in or yes, even just one.

Yes, unfortunately the situation makes Ninkasi way more about entry persistence or luck any absolute brewing prowess. The severe entry caps will negate the Ninkasi but I think it's way more important for people to be psyched about the possibility for ONE medal than a few with their eyes on Ninkasi. It just doesn't work in this system nor any system that can be imagined in the future.

Got to agree here.  Would add if necessary, beers need to have placed in prior sanctioned competitions.
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Offline ajk

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NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #220 on: March 08, 2013, 07:01:00 AM »
how much money would the AHA save by NOT printing out those certificates for first round beers that get some score above 20?

I've suggested before we do away with these. Maybe we're worried about discouraging people from entering next time. Oh, wait. :-)

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #221 on: March 14, 2013, 05:56:15 AM »
Hi Michael,

No, I did not get a chance to enter.  I happened to be away from my computer for the approximately 1 hour window during which the last 450 spots were filled.

Actually I agree with all your ideas.  They reward good behavior (helping out the competition, joining the AHA) and require the brewer, who at this level should be able to judge his/her own beer, to send only their best.   You could even limit it further than 10; 5? 3?..... 1?!  A number based on judging capacity and number of potential entrants.

Regarding the BOS judging idea, if I got 2nd in Round 1, I'd send it to the Round 2 for sure for a chance at Silver or Bronze? Heck yeah!  It's only fair b/c I might have entered into a 'meatgrinder' of a region, containing all of the best brewers of that style of beer.

Todd


interesting concept. 
Many including me have suggested that only first and second or only first place First Round beers advance to the Final Round, and your idea does avoid the problem of 2nd/3rd best in a region also being 2nd/3rd best in Final Round and missing out.
What I think would happen is few silver first round medalists would bother to ship their entries to the second round knowing there was only a 9% chance their beer would even be opened, and couldn't get higher than Silver.  Bronze would be even more sparsely represented.

But I do not see a way around it.  The interest in the first round competition is larger than we can accomodate (does anyone doubt that if we can fill 11 regions in an hour or so that we could easily fill twice that?), and with a Conference that sells out in 24 hours only so many judges can make it there.  Maybe we get hundreds of new high ranked judges but the problem now is access more than willingness to help IMO.

Personally I'd drop the limit to 10 entries, have site pre-registration before entry registration, let volunteers from the previous year register a day early, raise the number of first round regions to whatever Janis can support and retain sanity, and only allow gold medal First Round beers to advance.  Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year.  I'd like to have a way to reward the current year's volunteers with access but we'd have the problem of someone not showing up to judging and having some ugly penalty system.

I'd also consider a pre-registration day where every AHA member had a shot at entering one beer...if the competition fills up before everyone has a chance, too bad.  If not, the following day it opens to everyone to enter more beers and to non-members.

Incidently tmsnyder, did you get registered into the system a week ago?  I know you didn't get beers in.  I keep hearing of e-mails to those that registered but were caught in the gridlock being allowed to fill up the remainder of the competition spots.  Just curious.

cheers--
--Michael

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #222 on: March 14, 2013, 06:10:01 AM »
Hi Michael,

No that's wrong unless I misread and you're talking about the current method of judging Round 2. 

For the BOS style juding of Round 2 that I suggested, if you have 22 Round 1 sites instead of the current 11, you wouldn't need another Round.  You would just do a BOS (actually a mini-BOS or category-BOS, the BOS is for the whole kit and kaboodle) with 22 beers on the table instead of only 11.   

And btw, 11 beers on the mini-BOS table is totally manageable.  Especially since they are all the same style of beer. 

A BOS for a local homebrew competition will usually have 20 to 30 beers on the table, EVERY ONE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STYLE!  So _that's_ much harder and it can take a couple hours to work through it.  You have to evaluate for instance 'is this Robust Porter a better example of its style than this N German Pils is of its style?????'   It's not easy!

Judging the Round 2 as a mini-BOS would be much easier b/c they are all of the same style or category.


Tough luck silver/bronze; do better next year. 
Isn't conceivable (Wallace Shawn voice inserted) that a silver and bronze in one region could be a better beer than all the golds in the other regions?

absolutely, and it has happened, but we have to cut it off somewhere.  I don't think anyone wants three rounds, and we have desire to grow the first round beyond 8250 and a limit on how big the Final Round can be.  Something has to give.  As stated elsewhere who is to say that 4th place is not the best in the Final Round?  If we have twice as many first round regions and invite G/S/B from each, we still have to organize twice as many Final Round entries as now.  We have to treat them as if the bottles would be opened, but with tmsnyder's suggestion we wouldn't open the majority of entries.  It's a lot of work for beer that isn't going to leave the box.  On the plus side of his suggestion only Gold would have to send in more than 1 bottle, and no one more than two, to the Final Round.
Obviously if there were a perfect solution it would have already been suggested.   :-\ 

cheers--
--Michael

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #223 on: March 14, 2013, 07:32:48 AM »
As a competition organizer myself (Amber Waves of Grain niagarabrewers.org) this almost made coffee shoot out my nose!

Very funny!

Yes the bjcp tracks judging points, those points are entered one by one on a web based database thanks to Gordon Strong.  It is very well thought out.  It is not hard as the organizer to get on there and assign judge points and organizer points.  I'm happy to do it for the 40, 50, 60 judges and stewards and organizers that come out and volunteer their time to help make the competition run smoothly.   

If I don't do it, I have angry judges on my hands and they won't help me next year.  So the incentive is there and yet there are STILL competitions that do a poor job distributing their judge points.  Look on the bjcp website if you can, you'll see a list of delinquent competitions that haven't done it and they're YEARS LATE!

To take that idea and apply it to 500, 600, 700 entries over 100-200 entrants?  No thanks.  Too much work and no incentive. And if it's not done after the competition is over (and it won't get done) the brewer appeals to the AHA or something?  So now they're dealing with 1000's of angry brewers trying to get their records updated?  That's not something the AHA is going to want to deal with.







As for tracking for a hypothetical qualifier - all you would need is for the competition coordinator to upload the scores and results to a database assessable by the AHA.  The BJCP tracks judging points and steward points, and it's a volunteer organization - I'm sure the AHA could handle this.

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #224 on: March 14, 2013, 08:52:50 AM »
Ok, so now we're back down at the Round 1 level being the problem.

There are plenty of locations that have the capacity to judge 750 entries and judge them well.  The question is, why aren't they volunteering to host a Round 1 site?   Why is the AHA accepting locations for Round 1 that apparently have weak judging pools? 

And the answer from my perspective, as someone involved in one location that certainly has the capacity but is unwilling to host a Round 1, is that the incentives are not there.

My points are:

A)  750 entries is a big competition, a lot of work.  There are areas which can handle this load but you're not attracting them all (I know b/c I'm in such an area)

B) $3 per entry is probably enough to run it, but not enough to feed the judges decently, and provide a thank you gift which is adequate for them to take a day, 2 days, or 3 days out of their lives to judge.  It was $2 or $3 2 years ago, what happened to the $2 bump in entrance fee that was supposed to go towards the judging?  The money should go PRIOR to the competition, into an account that the Round 1 site can draw from by a debit card so organizers can run their competition without having to worry about getting reimbursed for every little penny.  $5 an entry, up front, no reimbursements.

C)  You're not likely to get judges to volunteer for a competition that they were unable to enter.  And usually judges are the better brewers, this is true in our area at least.  So allow early NHC registration for the judges from the previous year.  This will do several things.  1. Motivate the judges to judge at a Round 1 site  2. Motivate non-judges to become judges.  3. Motivate organizer/judges to volunteer to host a Round 1 site.  This will increase the Round 1 judge pool and allow you to have an even bigger competition open to everyone.

D)  My main point:  There's no reason for any bottleneck if the competition is set up correctly.

Todd

 
Thanks for this, it is a novel proposal.  I've added it to the list of things for the committee to consider for next year's competition.

Although often the judging at the first round sites is not where it needs to be, so trusting that the first round site got them in the right order is not a given.  I've seen some pretty bad judging sheets from first round sites, sheets with fewer than 20 words written on them.  And in the words of one former Ninkasi winner "I've personally seen how unrelated these rankings seem to be from round to round."

I also want to point out that as soon as you clear one bottleneck another appears - there are a limited number of first round sites that can handle 750 entries, I doubt we can get to 20 let alone 30.  Still, it is a constructive suggestion we will discuss.  Thanks.