Author Topic: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support  (Read 9624 times)

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8197
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #30 on: April 25, 2011, 02:41:55 PM »
There may be the possibility of having different limits in different regions depending on the local judge pool, but that is another layer of complexity and potential problems.

As I've said before, expect the PNW to fill up really quick next year if the rules are kept the same way.
Why, so people can get their results faster?  We judged the first weekend we could this year specifically because of other events we had going on, that might not be the case next year.  So even if we finish in one weekend, it could very well be the last weekend possible for judging.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #31 on: April 25, 2011, 02:56:51 PM »
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  With fewer entries, the accute need for more qualified judges goes down.  If the cap is lowered then there will need to be additional regions added to take up the slack, but this is costly.  One comment about the cost analysis of the NHC was flawed in that most regions actually cost the the AHA more like $2,000 - $2,400.  there was also no mention in the analysis of the costs for the second round of judging as well as the costs to mail out prizes and a significant number of certificates.  Believe me, at $9.00 an entry, the AHA is not making any money.  the entry fee was raised 2 years ago just to hit the break even point.

As chairman of the AHA's competition subcommittee I promise you we will discuss all the points raised by the membership.  Please understand this is not a money making proposition for the AHA, it should be viewed as a service the AHA and the enormous number of volunteers who work the NHC provide the membership.  We are listening, but there are some very real problems that arise in this competition [due to it's unprecidented size] that are not seen in other competitions.  We're not going to please everyone, but we are trying.  This is uncharted water remember, who ever heard of a homebrew competition with something like 7,000 entries??

Keep the ideas coming,
Harold Gulbransen
AHA Gov Comm Competition subcommittee

Harold,

I would be happy to see an itemized list of revenue and expenses related to the competition. I've run a 400+ entry competition that shipped prizes etc and we presented this info to our club members and I don't see why the AHA can't do the same. If $9 an entry results in zero bottom line and people calling to double entry fees so we can compensate judges perhaps we can find some efficiencies to be had if the membership can scrutinize how the money is being spent. Off the top of my head, if the certificates are so expensive to produce and ship that they warrant being on the short list of things that explain how several tens of thousands of dollars are spent after the first round, then may we could discontinue those as an alternative to raising entry fees. Additionally if we look at why some regions cost 50% more than others maybe that would give us some ideas on how to keep down costs.

In lieu of any transparency surrounding the finances of the competition can I ask a direct question? Does part of the competition revenue pay for AHA staff salaries? That would explain how you get from a really big number to zero a lot better than "shipping prizes and certificates".

More generally to the thread. I strongly oppose cash payments but if any competition including the NHC can afford to directly provide something that travel requires and the judge would otherwise pay for then that is great. Hotel rooms are the obvious candidate. Personally $50 would never factor in to my decision to judge or not, even if you were asking me to drive across town. I think if you can spend a little money to make the experience fun or unique for the judges that may go further than direct reimbursements. Another option for the NHC in particular would be Conference discounts or free entries to the next years competition tied to judging/stewarding/organizing.

And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry. This clearly would increase the quality of the competition and would probably have the effect of suppressing entries too.

Offline jeffy

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2860
  • Tampa, Fl
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #32 on: April 25, 2011, 03:04:49 PM »
One comment about the cost analysis of the NHC was flawed in that most regions actually cost the the AHA more like $2,000 - $2,400.
Keep the ideas coming,
Harold Gulbransen
AHA Gov Comm Competition subcommittee
Thanks for chiming in, Harold.
What costs that much in a regional competition?  Not the forms or the pencils or the cups.  Probably not the lunches.  Mailing can't be too much.  Not the judges or the organizers because they volunteer their time.   Is it the venue?  Or are you including the cost of a portion of the AHA staff?
If our local (state wide) competition cost that much we'd never survive.
Just curious, not doubting you.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

ccarlson

  • Guest
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2011, 03:14:04 PM »
I'd also like to see the breakdown of competition costs. I can't imagine getting even close to $2000 dollars for a competition where there are entry fees collected.

Offline dbeechum

  • Administrator
  • Brewmaster General
  • *****
  • Posts: 2437
  • Pasadena, CA
    • View Profile
    • Experimental Brewing
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2011, 03:25:35 PM »
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.
Drew Beechum - Maltosefalcons.com
- Vote in the AHA GC Election! - http://bit.ly/1aV9GVd  -
-----
Burbling:
Gnome is in the Details
*Experimental Brewing - The Book*
Tap:
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
Tupelo Mead
Farmhouse Brett Saison

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #35 on: April 25, 2011, 04:30:13 PM »
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

Honestly once you have the bottles sorted, do they really take up that much space (I've seen 900, I can extrapolate to 1500)? Maybe we should look harder for sites instead of sacrificing quality.

I guess I'll put it this way. Does anyone want to defend the NY situation as anything other than a horrible judging situation? Does anyone have a better idea to prevent it from happening again?

Offline tom

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1110
  • Denver, CO
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #36 on: April 25, 2011, 05:40:32 PM »
And I will reiterate my call for a 2 bottle entry.

I'll leave the rest for Harold, but the reason the competition moved to a single bottle first round is due to space limitations. There was a fair amount of feedback from Site directors that they were having trouble pulling together enough cold storage for a multi-bottle entry round. The single bottle system allowed for more entries and less storage hassle.

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.

Honestly once you have the bottles sorted, do they really take up that much space (I've seen 900, I can extrapolate to 1500)? Maybe we should look harder for sites instead of sacrificing quality.

I guess I'll put it this way. Does anyone want to defend the NY situation as anything other than a horrible judging situation? Does anyone have a better idea to prevent it from happening again?
+1, I think we had less than 5 categories that didn't need a mini-BOS
Brew on

Offline markaberrant

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 251
  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
    • View Profile
    • ALES Club
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2011, 06:02:49 PM »
As I read this thread it appears to me the real issue is that for some regions 750 entries is simply too many to handle.  With fewer entries, the accute need for more qualified judges goes down.  If the cap is lowered then there will need to be additional regions added to take up the slack, but this is costly.

Again, I suggest 3 rounds.  Though it would require more overall coordination, you can spread out the first round judging to more sites, which would lighten number of entries advancing to the 2nd round regionals.  Increasing fees, capping number of entries or asking for more bottles simply act as artificial barriers, instead of allowing the competition to grow organically.

Offline markaberrant

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 251
  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
    • View Profile
    • ALES Club
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2011, 06:04:15 PM »
As for the exam, here is the statement from the BJCP website http://www.bjcp.org/index.php

April 2011
#
New Exam Program Announced

Here is a link to the proposed new structure the BJCP is working on.
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/newexam.pdf

In short:
There will be web based introductory exam that you have to pass before you can take the tasting, and unlimited numbers of people can take that exam.
The tasting will be 6 beers instead of 4, with no limits on how many can take this tasting exam.  This new tasting exam will replace all tasting exams.
Your rank is determined by your tasting score alone for apprentice, recognized or certified only.
If you have a national score on the tasting and enough experience points, you are allowed to register to take the full written exam.

This will really reduce the grading load and get more judges in the pool.  The 6 beer exam also gives the graders a better look at a person's judging skills.

I think this will be a big improvement, and I'm really glad the BJCP is moving in this direction.

I need to go read the details, but this is EXACTLY what I suggested a year or two ago!  Huzzah!!!

Not to imply I deserve any credit, I am just stoked beause I think this is exactly what the Program needs to do.

Offline hgulbransen

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #39 on: April 25, 2011, 07:24:12 PM »
Great comments everyone, I'll try to answer some of the questions raised here:

in terms of 2 bottles, johnf raises some excellent points about 2 bottles and the quality of the competition.  We are sensitive to this issue and it has been raised every year that I have been on the Gov Committee.  The problem we have is, many regions can't handle 1500 bottles arriving and storing them.  many regions do not receive entries and judge in the same location, so the bottles need to be transported to the judging site.  I am concerned about johnf's comment that beers were stored overnight before mini-BOS judging the next day.  this is clearly not optimal.  We will definitely consider this issue again after the second round is completed. 

johnf also asked about the cost of shipping certificates and prizes - again we can look at the specific costs of this and cutting back here in lieu of raising entry fees seems quite reasonable.

Jeffy asks about the costs of running a first round judging site.  I have personally been a first round organizer 3 times over the last 10 years and our region has run right around $2,000 - $2,400 in that time.  We have costs for beer storage, judging site rental, 3 meals [we judge on a Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon] - so we do one dinner, a light breakfast and a lunch.  This is for approx 80 people each day [60 - 65 judges and 15 or so stewards].  Postage to mail out score sheets can be over $200.  Cups - for 750 entries and mini-BOS panels for nearly every category one needs almost 3,000 cups. etc. etc, You get the idea, all these expenses total out to a pretty big number pretty quickly.

For second round judging a breakfast and lunch are provided to the judges and this is typically done in the conference hotel, which is much more costly than the way the first round sites can feed their judges.

Markaberrant raises an excellent point of having more smaller first round sites proceeding to regionals, then on to a final round.  I’ve thought about this myself for some time now.  We’ll discuss this in the subcommittee but again the problem is locating enough first round sites, the competition would need to start 2 months earlier [as this makes the competition a 3 tiered comp] and the added costs of multiple sites may not pencil out, but this is an excellent suggestion for revamping the entire competition, thanks.

I'm beginning to get too long winded here, suffice it to say a big part of the problem is the enormous size of this competition which cannot be run solely by volunteers, it requires AHA staff time to locate suitable judging centers and to field all the questions from entrants, support the database, etc.  Due to the size of this competition it doesn't scale up linearly from a local club competition that has 400 entries, it's much more complicated, time consuming and costly to run.

Again, keep the suggestions coming, we are listening.

Harold Gulbransen


Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8808
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #40 on: April 25, 2011, 08:02:38 PM »

I'm beginning to get too long winded here, suffice it to say a big part of the problem is the enormous size of this competition which cannot be run solely by volunteers, it requires AHA staff time to locate suitable judging centers and to field all the questions from entrants, support the database, etc.  Due to the size of this competition it doesn't scale up linearly from a local club competition that has 400 entries, it's much more complicated, time consuming and costly to run.

Again, keep the suggestions coming, we are listening.

Harold Gulbransen



I think the bottleneck for the most part is the availability of judges. I agree with Martin in the sense that some level of compensation will entice judges to travel further and ultimately attract more judges. I also think that the location of the competition has a tremendous impact on the ability to procure qualified judges. The bigger the city, the larger the judging pool and so forth.

With the increasing level of interest in hombrewing as a hobby, there is also an increasing interest in competing as can be witnessed by the increasing number of entries each year. I see this as a positive as opposed the other extreme. I think that by focusing on the demographics, specifically the highest incidence of judges by location, this will help draw more judges to volunteer for competition.

« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 08:04:27 PM by bluesman »
Ron Price

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8197
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #41 on: April 25, 2011, 11:44:06 PM »
Speaking strictly for myself . . .

Sometimes you have to put quality first. Not that judging fresh beers against beers open for 3 hours isn't bad enough but the situation in NY this year where beers were open overnight and then judged in mini-bos is horrible and would have been avoided with a second bottle.
Obviously this shouldn't happen, and I think it is more a matter of educating the organizer than anything else.  If a mini-bos is going to be required, those entries all need to be judged in the same session with the mini-bos immediately following.  It still doesn't solve the problem of having the first beer open so long, but it is better.

I think the bottleneck for the most part is the availability of judges. I agree with Martin in the sense that some level of compensation will entice judges to travel further and ultimately attract more judges.
I just disagree, but that's my opinion.  No reasonable amount of compensation is going to entice me to come to a competition.  Now if there is a party, a rare beer tasting after, something along those lines . . . then I'll make a serious effort to attend, maybe rearrange my schedule.  Money isn't going to entice me if it doesn't fit my schedule.

Rather than offer $50 here and there to cover transportation costs, spend a few hundred dollars on beer.  Get a keg or a few cases of something rare and serve it to the judges after (and provide designated drivers) and I think it will be cheaper and more enticing for judges than some money.  But again, that's just me.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline phillamb168

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2341
  • Lardy, France
    • View Profile
    • My Job
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2011, 01:37:19 AM »
What about a tiered per-bottle entry fee? First bottle submitted is gratis if you're an AHA member. Second bottle is $10. Third bottle is $15, Fourth bottle is $20, fifth is $25, etc. By submitting loads of bottles a person is putting a bigger load on the judges, and they should be expected to pay to offset that load.

I think you'd get better submissions with a system like that, and it's a way to 'raise' the entry fees without excluding people who can't afford an outright cost increase.

In terms of compensation, I think non-monetary compensation would be excellent. Free food (perhaps a cook-off or pot luck? Those are always fun) and a hotel room if you travel farther than X miles. For people traveling less than X miles but more than Y miles, they get a gas card or something similar.
I'm on twitter: phillamb168
----
morticaixavier for governing committee!

Offline johnf

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2011, 04:19:54 AM »

I just disagree, but that's my opinion.  No reasonable amount of compensation is going to entice me to come to a competition.  Now if there is a party, a rare beer tasting after, something along those lines . . . then I'll make a serious effort to attend, maybe rearrange my schedule.  Money isn't going to entice me if it doesn't fit my schedule.

Rather than offer $50 here and there to cover transportation costs, spend a few hundred dollars on beer.  Get a keg or a few cases of something rare and serve it to the judges after (and provide designated drivers) and I think it will be cheaper and more enticing for judges than some money.  But again, that's just me.

I agree 100%. There may be some judges for whom $50 makes or breaks the decision but ultimately if you want to change my decision, give me something I can't get at home (rare beers, poorly distributed local beers, talks). I have $50 at home. Instead of the 3 of us that think we need to give judges cash reimbursement to encourage participation arguing with the three of us that think perquisites would be better going back and forth forever, maybe someone should put together a survey and email it to some judges and ask them what would best influence them to travel to judge.

Also I'll throw in that in some cities, particularly Dallas, the problem was getting the local judges. Maybe that can't be fixed in Dallas with the timing of Blue Bonnet (which probably makes Dallas a non-viable first round site) but you have to solve the problem of getting people down the street to judge before you consider getting people from out of state to be your primary problem.

Thanks for being receptive Harold. I guess ultimately I would like that rather than adding more sites and raising interest fees that it would be better to go back to the drawing board and restate what the AHA values in terms of the competition and how to get there. Obviously I think two bottle vs one bottle should be on the table. I understand why the change was made, but now that we have done it for a while it is reasonable to evaluate how well it has worked. As a judge I don't think I am confident that we are picking the best beers in big flights where freshness is important (IPA being the prime example). As an entrant, I don't like that.

phillamb168:  I think people overestimate how many entries are from prolific entrants. As such I don't think capping entries by participant would be effective and even if raising the fee per entry number(using a reasonable schedule which I don't think your proposal is though I think the exact numbers were just meant to be illustrative) discouraged those that enter heavily, I don't think it would be very effective. Also in most cases the people with dozens of entries are judging themselves so on a net basis I would argue that aren't causing problems as much as the huge number of people sending 2-3 entries but not helping out on the volunteer side. I do enter quite a bit, though I haven't gotten close to breaking any records, so perhaps this is self serving on my part but so are the calls to cap entries or charge insane prices for high number of entries from people who don't enter heavily. Ultimately I think let's try some simple things before we try exotic things.

Offline SpanishCastleAle

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
    • View Profile
Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2011, 04:53:32 AM »
What about a tiered per-bottle entry fee? First bottle submitted is gratis if you're an AHA member. Second bottle is $10. Third bottle is $15, Fourth bottle is $20, fifth is $25, etc. By submitting loads of bottles a person is putting a bigger load on the judges, and they should be expected to pay to offset that load.

I think you'd get better submissions with a system like that, and it's a way to 'raise' the entry fees without excluding people who can't afford an outright cost increase.

In terms of compensation, I think non-monetary compensation would be excellent. Free food (perhaps a cook-off or pot luck? Those are always fun) and a hotel room if you travel farther than X miles. For people traveling less than X miles but more than Y miles, they get a gas card or something similar.
I suggested something like this earlier itt.  The way I would propose would be that a certain number of entries are the 'base' price but once you get over a threshold you have to pay more per entry.  johnf mentions some problems with that but the intent (imo) isn't just to 'discourage those that enter heavily' per se, but rather to increase the money taken in IF those heavy hitters are not discouraged.  It's their choice, less entries or more money.

This is over 1200 bottles and there is a ton of room to spare:


All inside this: