There are some real problems and some good ideas, but so far no viable solutions to the problem presented. The biggest problem is who gets in and who doesn’t and how many beers do they get in. I know of a lot of people who tried to get in and couldn’t. As we all know it is a crapshoot. I was fortunate enough to win the light hybrid category this year, but what if all the top brewers got in? The competition field would have changed. Undoubtedly I would have still won
, but it would have changed the level of the competition. If I was limited to one or two beers to enter in the first round, I doubt if my wheat beer would have been one of them. It just hit its prime – right beer, right judge, right time.
Earlier someone suggested a pre-qualification like the MCAB. For several reasons, I think this is the direction to go.
Currently there are 16 qualifying events for the MCAB. Out of these there are the potential for 352 entries (22 categories X 16). Over the last 4 years they have averaged around 210 entries, which computes to about 60% of the qualifying spots. I would think some of this is due to multiple wins in the same category but some is just the lack of interest or information about the MCAB.
Maybe the AHA should look at taking a hybrid approach to the solution by setting aside a certain percentage of the entries into the NHC based upon the results of the AHA sanctioned events through the year.
If we were to reserve qualifying spots for the medal winners of say….100 of the sanctioned events, at the MCAB ratio we have the following:
Each event gives 84 medals and potential spots (3 X 28)
100 competitions would give us 8,400 potential spots
At the 60% rate of the MCAB, that would be 5040 entries that are pre-qualified. Open the rest to non-qualifiers - based upon last years entries that would be 8250 - 5040 = 3,210 open spots at a minimum.
Rules would have to be established – One entry per Sub-category won (this way if you make a great English IPA and medal 5 times, you only get one slot for that sub-category but could qualify for an additional spot with an American IPA), Max the pre-qual at 10 or so – as well as other rules that would keep the reserved spots at or less than 5000. The rest are up for grabs once the initial slots are filled.
This would achieve several significant things. Any good, interested brewer can be assured that he/she will have the opportunity to enter the NHC by medaling in one the sanctioned events. Face it, if you can’t medal over the course of a year, should your beer take up a space? It will spark additional interest in the smaller events by increasing the number of entries and promoting homebrewing. Most importantly it really would allow the best brewers to compete against each other while still allowing others to join the field. Everybody’s happy………
Well probably not, but I do think that this is a viable solution for the problem.
Thanks for listening. I know this was kind of long.