As one of the people waiting to see if I get in or not, I have a few suggestions for future iterations of the lottery system.
(First off, I would like to say that I respect the difficult position of setting up a fair competition, and very much appreciate the many hours of consideration that went into creating the system we have in place this year. If we were still running under the system we had in place two years ago, NO ONE would be happy! What we have today is a vast improvement on where we would have been sitting without the many hours of effort and thought put in by our board members and competition organizers. THANK YOU! )
Some thoughts on beneficial tweaks for future competitions...
1.) As a an AHA member, one of the stated "benefits" is being able to participate in the National Homebrew Competition. At this time, I appear to be one of the 200 some members that are not being extended this benefit.
2.) In my entry, I listed that I would be willing to ship ANYWHERE, and I see that a number of entry sites are not at full capacity. (Gary and Janis, thanks for the transparency on the process that was followed, it is appreciated, and helpful in allowing beneficial discussions on how to further improve the system). I am confused that with the stated system, why I did not receive an entry position? I would have thought by being flexible in where I shipped, I would not have been excluded unless all the entry sites we within 4 or less of being filled up.
3.) As has been stated elsewhere, the wisdom of allowing some members four entries, and some members none... seems counter intuitive. I would be more supportive of a system that increments up the number of beers that can be entered by ALL entrants (lottery system put in place like this year to govern what location your beers get entered), and then a second lottery to fill up any spaces left. In other words, everyone this year would get to enter three beers, and then the remaining sites with space, go up for lottery. What was done this year was not bad, but I am in the camp that would like to see everyone have at least one shot.
4.) Lets start this whole process a few months earlier. Some frustration I have felt on this process, is that I cannot execute beers for the competition now as we drift to less than 4 weeks until shipping time. A big part of getting the best examples of beer to the competition is scheduling them to be at their prime at the right time... Doing this lottery process by December (or November if December is too busy) would allow for a much higher quality, and larger variety of beers to be entered. (The process for getting 6 beers ready at the right time is very different than getting ready!)
5.) PLEASE PELASE Send out notification E-mails to those that are in limbo next time. Just something stating that you are not necessarily "out" but an acknowledgement that we are in limbo and thank/ask us for patience while the system plays out. The personal touch goes a long way to sooth disappointment, and it helps to feel included in the process. (having to piece together my status from reading the update on the website had me fuming for a day or two... even more so than being in limbo)
Overall, I think the system put in place this year is a VERY GOOD system put in place by the AHA, and I look forward to the continued discussion and evolution over the next year. I know "the ship has sailed" on how this years competition will be executed, but I look forward to the discussions over the next year that will further improve the competition experience. Thanks again to all involved!