Author Topic: NHC Entry Limits for 2014  (Read 6317 times)

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #60 on: October 21, 2013, 10:11:50 AM »
Why not treat the NHC as sort of the playoffs of homebrewing competitions? Rather than make it an open competition, set a requirement that beers can only be entered if they have scored a minimum score in one or more AHA-sanctioned competitions.
I already do this on my own.  I just got scoresheets back from a comp for a beer I planned to enter into NHC.  Based on the comments, I may either rebrew it or most likely not submit it to NHC.

And as Jeff said, judging from comp to comp is variable. 

I will point out again that I had a beer score 42 at a 1000 entry competition here in MI, then it got a 32 a month later first round of NHC (Octoberfest, First round judge knocked it cause it was not a Maerzen).
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #61 on: October 21, 2013, 10:22:38 AM »
I just hope some clarification of the word "lottery" is forthcoming.

as long as less people register for the contest than they have entry slots, we can't really be mad, right?  I mean, I'd like to enter a bunch, but I recognize the inclusion and fairness of giving everyone possible a shot.  if 8-10K people register, we've got enough spots to give everyone one.  But maybe I'm underestimating the interest level, and as said previously it will be good to find out what it is.

contrast with finding out that your name wasn't picked from a lottery and you don't get to enter at all while others get multiple entries? - I think that would just change the uproar we experienced this year, not actually reduce it.   

I guess we'll find out...
cheers--
--Michael

This great hobby has become ever so popular. We've reached the point where change is inevitable. The demand for NHC registrations has become more and more difficult to manage. We must change our strategy in an effort to overcome this ever increasing demand for entries. A lottery sytem will allow for everyone to have the same odds of participation. All AHA members will have an opportunity to compete. More details on the lottery will be forthcoming.

Like Michael, I am also concerned about this "lottery". I do not like the idea of possibly being shut out of a competition I spend much of the year preparing for and donating a lot of my time to each year judging, stewarding and organizing. I have advanced at least one beer each year out of my usual four entries in my NHC competing career.

Stuffing envelopes for our regional last year helped me see the vast amount of subpar beer that is being entered into the NHC. I cannot tell you how many envelopes I stuffed with 12-15 entries, none advancing and all fairly low scores (19-25 average). It was really disappointing to know that with all of the registration issues, people still managed to take up 12-15 entries for themselves with a ton of 25 point beers. I'm not necessarily advocating for a 'pre-qualifier', it's just a data point.

IMHO, volunteers at the NHC events should be given preference in this 'lottery'. Volunteers are the life blood of this organization and competition and they should not be treated as if they do nothing to help out.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 10:27:10 AM by AmandaK »
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Offline udubdawg

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #62 on: October 21, 2013, 10:28:11 AM »

This great hobby has become ever so popular. We've reached the point where change is inevitable. The demand for NHC registrations has become more and more difficult to manage. We must change our strategy in an effort to overcome this ever increasing demand for entries. A lottery sytem will allow for everyone to have the same odds of participation. All AHA members will have an opportunity to compete. More details on the lottery will be forthcoming.

Thank you for the reply Ron.

I'll say this:  I brew FOR NHC, yet I'll be done brewing for 2014 before the AHA tells me whether I even get to compete.
...Therefore I have no real incentive to brew for NHC.  With this information I'm cancelling at least half of my Nov/Dec brew days.  If I enter anything it won't be my best, but whatever I've got sitting around.  But hey I guess if that's what we've gotta do...

If there's going to be a lottery for access, at least make it early enough that people have time to actually brew in response to getting in. 

*shrug* - just my two cents.  Again, I appreciate the response.

cheers--
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #63 on: October 21, 2013, 11:12:32 AM »
Like Ron said, details will be forthcoming.  A few things though . . .

It sure seems like a lottery is overly complicated.  As an AHA member in good standing the thought of not being able to enter the competition is disturbing.  I would like to know that I'll have a reasonably assured chance to get at least a beer or two entered without having to jump though flaming hoops or rely on pure luck.  I've not followed a lot of the NHC competition limit posts very closely so this may have already been suggested but why not divide registration to the competition into three phases?

Phase I - Open to current AHA members only and limit entries to a small number like maybe just two or three at a reasonable price (let's say $12).  This should almost certainly guarantee each AHA member that wants to enter the competition the opportunity to do so. 
[...]

We have nearly 40,000 members in the AHA.  Last year we were able to handle 8,250 entries in the first round.  Depending on demand, and we don't know where that tops out other than more than 8,250, there is no way to even complete Phase I of this plan without a lottery.  We used to do it first come first served, but that is not a good solution here obviously.

IMHO, volunteers at the NHC events should be given preference in this 'lottery'. Volunteers are the life blood of this organization and competition and they should not be treated as if they do nothing to help out.
I agree, and this would serve as further incentive for more volunteers to come out and help which would let us actually judge more entries.  Increasing entry limits will not all happen overnight though, we need to take a cautious approach to make sure they can all be properly judged.  We're going through growing pains right now, but we're heading where we need to be.

If there's going to be a lottery for access, at least make it early enough that people have time to actually brew in response to getting in.
This is a really good idea Michael, thanks, I'll see what we can do.  As long as we can get everything in place in time I see no reason not to do it as early as possible.

+1 on the initally limiting to AHA members.  If you are that interested in brewing, you SHOULD be an AHA member
Being an AHA member will be a requirement.  I don't expect there to be any spots left for non-AHA members even if we could double the size of the competition (which we can't so don't get your hopes up).
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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #64 on: October 21, 2013, 12:40:58 PM »
+1 on the initally limiting to AHA members.  If you are that interested in brewing, you SHOULD be an AHA member
Many agree, and it's been brought up before. But I think someone researched it and the number of non-AHA members entering is so small that although it's a fine idea, it will be a negligable difference. There is overwhelming demand from members alone.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #65 on: October 22, 2013, 12:10:56 AM »
+1 on the initally limiting to AHA members.  If you are that interested in brewing, you SHOULD be an AHA member
Many agree, and it's been brought up before. But I think someone researched it and the number of non-AHA members entering is so small that although it's a fine idea, it will be a negligable difference. There is overwhelming demand from members alone.
Yes, there are very few non-AHA members who enter.  Still, we'll save those spots for AHA members.  Maybe in the future we can meet the demand and include non-AHA members again.  Ah, for the days when the competition never sold out . . .
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #66 on: October 22, 2013, 04:44:38 AM »
+1 on the initally limiting to AHA members.  If you are that interested in brewing, you SHOULD be an AHA member
Many agree, and it's been brought up before. But I think someone researched it and the number of non-AHA members entering is so small that although it's a fine idea, it will be a negligable difference. There is overwhelming demand from members alone.
Yes, there are very few non-AHA members who enter.  Still, we'll save those spots for AHA members.  Maybe in the future we can meet the demand and include non-AHA members again.  Ah, for the days when the competition never sold out . . .
That was not so long ago.

Tom, has anyone plotted the entries vs. year? That would have a nice trajectory, flattened by the limit being reached the last 2 years.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #67 on: October 22, 2013, 07:11:33 AM »
I will point out again that I had a beer score 42 at a 1000 entry competition here in MI, then it got a 32 a month later first round of NHC (Octoberfest, First round judge knocked it cause it was not a Maerzen). There are many beers that peak quickly and one would have to rebrew for first round. So is that rebrew qualified, as it is a different batch? I know that many rebrew for the second round, want your viewpoint.

It could be approached the same as the difference between rounds of the NHC. People often rebrew between rounds of the NHC so they should be allowed to rebrew between qualifying and the first round of the NHC. Seems to me for many categories you would want rebrews. For example, it's doubtful many people would want to put six month old IPA in a competition.

I should also point out that I do not brew for competitions and I've never entered any competition. I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just looking at what would make the best use of the limited resources available to judge the competition. It seems Amanda's experience strongly suggests there are a lot of beers going into the NHC that should receive detailed feedback and improvement before getting into the NHC. Pushing those beers into club-run competition where the brewers would have to improve the recipe before it could go into the NHC would benefit the brewer and the NHC.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #68 on: October 22, 2013, 07:31:10 AM »
I will point out again that I had a beer score 42 at a 1000 entry competition here in MI, then it got a 32 a month later first round of NHC (Octoberfest, First round judge knocked it cause it was not a Maerzen). There are many beers that peak quickly and one would have to rebrew for first round. So is that rebrew qualified, as it is a different batch? I know that many rebrew for the second round, want your viewpoint.

It could be approached the same as the difference between rounds of the NHC. People often rebrew between rounds of the NHC so they should be allowed to rebrew between qualifying and the first round of the NHC. Seems to me for many categories you would want rebrews. For example, it's doubtful many people would want to put six month old IPA in a competition.

I should also point out that I do not brew for competitions and I've never entered any competition. I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just looking at what would make the best use of the limited resources available to judge the competition. It seems Amanda's experience strongly suggests there are a lot of beers going into the NHC that should receive detailed feedback and improvement before getting into the NHC. Pushing those beers into club-run competition where the brewers would have to improve the recipe before it could go into the NHC would benefit the brewer and the NHC.

Having competed a lot over the last dozen years, there are a couple of things that are true.
1a. There is a lot of variability in the judges that your beer will get.
1b. The same 'beer' will place differently in several competitions. A guy I know who was cider maker of the year entered the same cider into our state fair competition, he said it did nothing. I had a beer that did real well in the NHC second round, and it did nothing in the state fair. You think those should have done better?
2. There are beers that are wonderful in the keg, but are not so good once bottled without high attention to detail in bottling. This has happened to me. A beer gun and being anal about O2 and sanitation are things that have helped.
3. Many, myself included, will have some "cellar blindness" when it is time to enter. This is where running the beers past other judges would help, but then again that worked for one beer this year but not another.

Even Gordon Strong had a rule of thumb that 1/3 of the beers will place in a competition. You would think he would do better.  ;)


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Offline udubdawg

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #69 on: October 22, 2013, 09:51:17 AM »
Again, as long as the number of registrants is less than the number of entry slots this year, I see no reason to not give everyone a shot with the remaining spots by lottery.  But that's a short-term solution at best and maybe not even possible this year depending on interest level.  Really curious to see just how popular this hobby/contest is!

Amanda's statement on mediocre scores plus my own experience judging in NHC makes me wonder about equal access for everyone.  On one hand it is the most fair, but on the other hand I want the best competition with the highest level beers possible.  I know he's not competing, but imagine if Gordon Strong's name wasn't picked out of the proverbial hat - sorry, you don't get to enter.  The competition loses some luster without people like that IMO.

I would give an entry spot to everyone that volunteered in each region the previous year.  I'd give another one to each medal winner.  And I'd give another one to each of the major individual award winners.  So by helping in the finals, winning two medals, and Ninkasi, dbarber would get at least 4 entry spots held for him, more if he helped out on the first round anywhere.  Maybe it isn't "equal" but at least the spots would have been EARNED, volunteerism would have been encouraged, and there will still be leftover spots to give out by lottery.

just my two (more) cents.
cheers--
--Michael


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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #70 on: October 22, 2013, 09:52:18 AM »
During this transition I anticipate/encourage further discussion on the changes being made to the process. We will be here to help answer those questions to the best of our ability. Tom and the competition subcommittee are on the case, and we'll try to help get your questions answered. It's an evolution that's deemed necessary. I believe that we'll all adjust accordingly...in a positive fashion.
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Offline macbrews

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #71 on: October 26, 2013, 10:06:34 AM »
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.

Mac

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #72 on: October 28, 2013, 05:58:11 AM »
The problem I have with pre-qualifying is that MCAB is a two stage competition (Qualifier and MCAB). NHC is already a two stage competition (First round and final). Adding a qualifier would make it 3 stages. It would allow NHC to weed out poor entries, but it would probably turn off some great brewers who would be frustrated by the effort required to get to the final round.
 
My other concern is that there already is an MCAB. If NHC becomes 'another MCAB' why have the competition at all? That may not be a completely valid concern, but I think it has some merit.
 
That said, I do think NHC should have some way to guarantee entries to the best brewers (and those who volunteer at the competition). I just don't think a 3rd round qualifer is the way. I've suggested before that NHC could give the previous year's medalers guaranteed entrance for the next year (and a higher number of entries too). That way it might take a few years to get in through the lotter, but once you do, if you place one year you can keep competing the next. After a few years you'd have a pool of excellent brewers competing.
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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #73 on: October 28, 2013, 07:44:14 AM »
I suppose it would technically be 3 stages... but really... who only enters the NHC each year?  I think that has to be a minority.  If you make the prequalifier competitions that are already established and existing it will not put much more (if any) strain on the judges in those areas.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: NHC Entry Limits for 2014
« Reply #74 on: October 28, 2013, 10:00:51 AM »
I suppose it would technically be 3 stages... but really... who only enters the NHC each year?  I think that has to be a minority.  If you make the prequalifier competitions that are already established and existing it will not put much more (if any) strain on the judges in those areas.

I think your assumption that entries would not increase in these pre-qualifier competitions is not a good assumption. For example, we run a competition circuit here in the Midwest called the High Plains. If you (or your club) wins in one of those designated competitions you get points towards brewer of the year or club of the year. You better believe that A LOT of the entries in those competitions are because of the circuit it is attached to.

Let's say that my club's annual competition is already at 500+ entries. Imagine how many more entries we would have if it was one of only a certain number of comps to be part of the 'pre-qulaifying round' for the NHC. 100? 300? Yikes. There just isn't enough support/volunteers to run that big of a competition.
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