Believe me, I've emailed the folks at the AHA about the BN thing. (I also voiced my opinion to them back in 2011 when they won in San Diego too). I haven't received a response yet.
My email to them the other day is this....
Gary - great conference. Thanks for putting on an event for our crazy community of homebrewers! Everything was great, and Grand Rapids was a great location for the conference. The hotels and breweries were within walking distance, what else could you ask for?!
My only complaint is this whole Brewing Network thing as COTY. To be blunt, it's shocking and disappointing that the AHA allows this. I dont use their site or listen to their broadcasts (I'm all forum'd out after years of participation), but I understand they are a valuable resource. But they simply are not a homebrew club in the traditional sense. If local homebrew clubs could recruit across the country I'm sure they would score more points too. But they can't because they are local homebrew clubs!
I sense an AHA survey in our future...
I'd be curious to see the rosters of the local clubs to see if all their members are local. Looking through the first round results, I saw a member of QUAFF who lives in AZ. Not exactly local but not nothing their situation, I cannot pass judgement. And let's not bring up the whole Gordon Strong/St. Paul B.S...I never had a problem with that. I'm pretty sure I could become a member of DOZE or QUAFF if I paid my dues. Again, I've entered under the BN before when I wasn't part of a club, but now I enter under my local club even though I know we'll never get COTY (I'm the only one who enters Nationals on a regular basis).
If they decide (hopefully by getting input from the members and not making some totalitarian decision) to disqualify the web-based clubs, they will make changes to the COTY award so it doesn't become the QUAFF/DOZE/STPAUL award every year.
Also, you need to remember that the Brewing Network and The Brewing Network Club are totally separate. Yes, the BN gets the recognition and the grief, but it is a separate entity, not controlled by Justin or the BN staff. And by disqualifying them, you also need to disqualify "club" like Chop and Brew and Homebrewtalk.
I wonder if the AHA can do an analysis of the points earned by each club to see where they came from. Since the Club-Only comps are no longer included after this year, I wonder if that's where the BN got a lot of their points.