I think this still is, and should be, the premier competition in the nation. It's the biggest and that's great, but it should also have the best brewers. Yes, we want to be as inclusive as possible, but if someone who has proved themselves as one of the best brewers in the nation gets left out, something is wrong IMO. The competition loses some legitimacy, but again, that's just my opinion.
I get what Jim is saying but it's just a mediocre word choice on my part. I'd give everyone who has ever won one of those 4 awards entry spots, if they want them, for life. This is the Masters and they should always be invited back...
The number would vary - I wouldn't increase limits - if everyone gets no more than 5 spots then even dbarber shouldn't get more than that.
one-year guaranteed entries for volunteers from the previous year
lifetime guaranteed entries for winners of the 4 major awards.
maybe a single, one-year guaranteed entry for each medal winner? I dunno.