Author Topic: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support  (Read 9945 times)

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #45 on: April 26, 2011, 05:03:20 AM »
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.

Valid points, but speaking as someone who sent their beer to Saratoga, where the original judging date was April 2nd, extend to a second date of April 17th, and now waiting on a 3rd date of April 30th, I could care less if it was judged in the first, middle, or last weekend, as long as it doesn't take a month to do it.  Next year if the NE dropoff is in the same location, I'm sending to a different region.
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Online gordonstrong

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #46 on: April 26, 2011, 05:11:37 AM »
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.

It doesn't take a cunning amount of insight to realize this is a heinous thing to do.  That's reason enough to not use that location as a judging site in the future.  If you don't know how to hold a competition, then don't volunteer to do the NHC.

Did they lose the bottle corks and competition instructions that had been provided, not read them, or just choose to ignore them?

Mini-BOS is a continuous part of the session in which the component beers were selected.  It's not another judging round.

Beers shouldn't be "open for 3 hours" either.  The whole point of the bottle corks is that you open the beer, pour your samples, immediately cap the bottle and then save it cold.  You don't leave the bottle open until you decide you want to save it for later.  If you don't want the bottle, you pull the cap and reuse it.  But you treat the bottle as if you were going to save it until you decide otherwise.  It's not as good as a fresh bottle, but it will keep the beers in reasonable condition.  You work with the situation you have.  But you can't intentionally treat a beer as poorly as possible and then blame the system for your choices.
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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #47 on: April 26, 2011, 05:24:28 AM »
Quote
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. 

Say it actually costs $2400. What about the entry fees? At $5-$10 per entry, that adds up pretty quickly, as well. If you have 480 entries at $5 each, you've broken even. Maybe that's an abnormal amount of entries, but I really think $5 is low balling the amount, based on what I've read here.

There's no doubt that all of this costs money, especially when you might consider adding a refrigerated truck. By the way, I think that's a great idea. I have to say though, reading about some of the judging methods described here, (uncorked bottles, warm beer, old beer, etc.) makes me really question the outcome of some of these contests. 

As for paying judges, I think the free meals, after party, etc. are better ideas, but I'm not a judge, so my opinions are limited in this area.

Offline MDixon

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #48 on: April 26, 2011, 05:38:45 AM »
The issue is not whether a nice case of bottles can be stored properly the issue is all those boxes arriving, needing to be unpacked and then stored. It took two of us 2 days to unpack and sort all the entries (600+) for the South Region back in the day. Then 4 loads of trash to the dump and recycling. We had rented a temp controlled, but not cooled, storage facility space and worked in there. A two bottle comp would have been nice, but we could barely handle all the bottles as it was and if we had two could not have pulled off the competition since there would have been no single vehicle owned by either of us which could have taken the beers 3 hours to the other site for judging.

As far as the issues faced in NY, it sounds like the flights must not have used queued judging. I was not aware of it when we hosted in 2008 and had I known we could have sped things up considerably. Now it's standard fare at all the comps in our area and has been since it was introduced to us at the 2008 NHC finals. More info is available on the BJCP site:
http://www.bjcp.org/compcenter.php
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Offline johnf

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #49 on: April 26, 2011, 06:30:18 AM »
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.

It doesn't take a cunning amount of insight to realize this is a heinous thing to do.  That's reason enough to not use that location as a judging site in the future.  If you don't know how to hold a competition, then don't volunteer to do the NHC.

Did they lose the bottle corks and competition instructions that had been provided, not read them, or just choose to ignore them?

Mini-BOS is a continuous part of the session in which the component beers were selected.  It's not another judging round.

Beers shouldn't be "open for 3 hours" either.  The whole point of the bottle corks is that you open the beer, pour your samples, immediately cap the bottle and then save it cold.  You don't leave the bottle open until you decide you want to save it for later.  If you don't want the bottle, you pull the cap and reuse it.  But you treat the bottle as if you were going to save it until you decide otherwise.  It's not as good as a fresh bottle, but it will keep the beers in reasonable condition.  You work with the situation you have.  But you can't intentionally treat a beer as poorly as possible and then blame the system for your choices.

The story from NY is that the bottles were truly open, not sure if that was accurate, I was not there.

Normally of course you would put a plastic cork in and keep them cold. That is still not an ideal package because there is empty space in the bottle that is filled with air at atmospheric pressure. The remaining beer will have a lower carbonation level and be exposed to oxygen. I would argue this is material for IPAs, immaterial for still meads, and slightly material for most stuff.

I judged IPAs in Denver and we treated the beers as well as possible. I'm not confident mini-bos went the same way it would have gone with a second bottle. Of course I can't say that for certain. It seemed like several of the beers in mini-bos had poor hop aroma and I was surprised they got through. Then the judge from that flight would say it seemed better when they were judging it. So basically do you judge the beer you have or give weight to what the other guy remembers? With 5 sets of judges and 3 mini-bos judges, several of those beers that had suppressed aroma had nobody from the judging pair in mini-bos to stick up for them or convey a memory of what it was like fresh.

On the other hand I judged stouts and I think one bottle worked much better there. All of the beers that were in mini-bos were good at that time.

Offline SiameseMoose

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #50 on: April 26, 2011, 06:43:06 AM »
A few unconnected thoughts:

The entry fee covers not just the first round, but also the second. An option (and I'm not even sure I like it, but I'm throwing it out there) is to charge an additional fee for beers sent to the second round.

My wife and I are both judges. She's Master, and I'm National. With two high-ranking judges in the same household, we're often treated to a "personal invitation" from contest organizers. A personal gripe is that all too often organizers try to make us feel guilty, "We really need you," or the one that makes me angry, "You're BJCP, you owe us." I heard this from two of this year's regions. Any organizer that gives me that line will never see me.

We pick which competitions to attend for a number of reasons, including going to meet and support personal friends, going someplace new, and places that offer a unique experience. Drew's idea of special beers or a party is something that would normally attract us, but there's a problem. The last few years when regionals were hosted by Weasel Boy in Zanesville, Jay and Lori (the owners) planned special entertainment for Saturday evening, and generally treated us like royalty. But, after judging and a little partying Friday, and two flights on Saturday, all we wanted to do was crawl into bed. We didn't hang around after judging.

Finally, the organizers do a boatload of work. (I know about the second round from personal experience.) Does the AHA give them anything for their efforts? I know they get BJCP points, but I'm one who doesn't care about points (I know, heresy to some of you :D). At a minimum, I'd like to see a thank you article in Zymurgy that lists the names of all of the people involved. Going further, perhaps a gift certificate to the Beertown store might be offered.
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Offline curtcrock

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #51 on: April 26, 2011, 07:13:24 AM »
A higher entry fee, to which I am not opposed, might reduce the practice of entering a single beer over multiple catagories, thus reducing the load on the judges and in turn, lead to an increased focus on the specific style being judged.

I agree with some of the earlier posts; anything we can do to make things easier for the judges would benefit the competition.

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Online gordonstrong

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #52 on: April 26, 2011, 07:27:06 AM »
"You're BJCP, you owe us."

Never heard that one.  Thankfully.  For them.

Competitions exist in a marketplace.  Market rules apply.  Get a reputation for running a lame competition and don't be surprised if your customers (judges, in this case) bail on you.

Judges are a valuable, limited resource.  Treat them well.  Many of the improvements introduced in the second round over the last four or five years were specifically to create a better judging and conference experience for the judges. In some past conferences, judges (who have to pay to be there, by the way) missed half the conference due to judging, and received essentially no thanks except a free lunch.  Looks like a similar amount of attention has to be focused on the first round.  That's more difficult to manage since the people running it are independent groups, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #53 on: April 26, 2011, 08:50:20 AM »
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.

Valid points, but speaking as someone who sent their beer to Saratoga, where the original judging date was April 2nd, extend to a second date of April 17th, and now waiting on a 3rd date of April 30th, I could care less if it was judged in the first, middle, or last weekend, as long as it doesn't take a month to do it.  Next year if the NE dropoff is in the same location, I'm sending to a different region.
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\
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Offline hokerer

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #54 on: April 26, 2011, 09:03:14 AM »
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

cuz our impatient little heads're gonna 'splode.  the suspense is killing me :)
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Offline theDarkSide

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #55 on: April 26, 2011, 09:03:30 AM »
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc.  

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #56 on: April 26, 2011, 09:07:43 AM »
That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc. 

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.
Ah, well yes, "properly judged" is a really big part of the equation.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Tim McManus

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #57 on: April 26, 2011, 09:55:56 AM »
I was going to head up to Saratoga to judge.  It's about a 4-6 hour drive depending on how you go and traffic.  No biggie for me, I am used to driving long distances.  However, I would have probably stayed over night so I didn't have to drive all fatigued.  I am willing to drive to judge because of the experience.  Where else can you sit in a room full of beer geeks and taste some really spectacular beers?  It's a lot more attractive than going to a beer festival.

I am usually treated very well as a judge, but I am also very low maintenance.  Tell me where to go, what I'm judging, and who my judging partner is and I'm ready to go.

I do agree with the folks talking about meals.  I was at one competition that quickly ran out of food for the judges, but they took initiative and resolved the problem as best they could.  But I think that judges need a continental breakfast spread (rolls, bagels, spreads, coffee, tea, hot water, etc.) when they arrive and at least a hot lunch for judging a flight.  A second flight should come with the option of a hot dinner or snack.

Judging stipends piqued my interest and I understand some of the issues in granting them.  It's another piece of overhead for a competition too.  It also sets up an expectation and people can get frustrated and irrational when expectations and money are involved.  However, it can be used as some good incentive to get judges more motivated.  For instance, if you said that a National Judge gets $20 per contest and a Master Judge gets $30.  We're rewarding experience and participation in judging and we're providing some incentive for more experienced judges to go to more competitions.  We're also providing low-ranking judges with the incentive to get more experience.  It shouldn't be a lot of money but enough to provide incentive.

The only caveat is that I would not mandate these rules unless you are sponsoring a large competition.  Something like nationals probably needs a different system in place with some incentives to get judges out.  You'd also have to do the same thing with stewards too.  It's a complex issue but not one that's impossible to solve.  It's worth doing a financial analysis on it to see how much the stipends would cost and how that would affect the cost of entries.  And then, of course, determining if there are any tax-related issues with doing this.

I recently judged a homebrew competition who in years past gave out recappers as a thanks to the judges.  They were hand-made brass bottle openers with a recapper on the other end.  I searched eBay and such to find one and only found one device that could do the trick.  It removes the cap without bending it and has a capper on the other end--a round crucible-shaped end.  I found an old version of this called a Pop'N Stop.  The devices was made in the early 1900 and is designed to reseal soda bottles from back in the day.  I will be bringing this opener with me to all competitions so I can reseal entries immediately after opening them.  The folks that used to give them out host the Hudson Valley Home Brewers Competition.  If someone can get the design and mass produce them, they would be an outstanding judges' "thank you" and mitigate some of the mini-BOS issues.

I also think that the next few years should see some improvement in these larger events.  We have more people than ever applying to become judges and just as many entering entries into contests.  We've acknowledged that revisions to the BJCP exam are being discussed and they will facilitate getting more judges out there.  I also think the national competition will change too.  It's huge and may need some unique solutions to keep it going.

I'll throw my hat in to help judge next year's NE rounds.  I didn't do it this year because I had too much stuff going on, but if I can help improve it, I will.
Tim McManus
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Offline johnf

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #58 on: April 26, 2011, 10:04:09 AM »
I don't understand this sentiment.  What difference does it make how long it takes them to finish, as long as the beers are properly judged and they finish before the deadline?  If they take three weekends to finish and finish on the last weekend, vs. judge all of them the last weekend, how does that impact entrants? :-\

That's just the point...from everything we are reading, from various sources, they all seem to be in agreement that the NE region isn't being properly judged, i.e. mini-BOS entries being left open overnight, not having any method to recapping entries they couldn't get to, etc.  

Of course I'm not there and all these rumors may be exaggerated.

I've heard the same rumors of course. At least some of it I heard from someone who had been there, directly, in person a week later.

I don't think the taking 3 weeks part in and of itself is a horrible thing. In fact, maybe regions should plan from the outset to judge multiple weeks. I guess you could make the argument that people want to time some of their beers tightly to the judging date but that seems fairly nit picky and since the entries are due at the same time is hard to do anyway. I'm the biggest "IPAs have poor shelf life" freak you'll find but even I think if you can't make an IPA that is substantially at peak quality for 3 or 4 weeks when stored cold then something is wrong. I'll take well judged over 4 weekends vs sloppily judged in one. Maybe sites should be encouraged to schedule judging on multiple weekends if they aren't confident than can do it in one. I think that might be more smooth than trying against all odds to finish in a single weekend and then adding ad hoc sessions afterward that nobody expected and therefore get low turnout.

One thing not mentioned about enticing out of town judges is that I think passive things like location can mean a lot more than anything you could afford to do actively. This means not just city but location within city. I like to do fun extracurricular stuff when I judge and I hate having to deal with driving on a weekend centered around beer. I live in KC, basically the same (long) distance from Denver, Dallas, Indy, Madison and Nashville. I went to Denver, and it was an easy decision, because they judged within walking distance of all the spots on Blake street.

Offline Beer Monger

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Re: National Homebrewing Competition Fees and Support
« Reply #59 on: April 27, 2011, 06:20:55 AM »
Perhaps a possible solution would be to limit the number of entries that can be received per region.  Basically, you'd have to register online somewhere before sending your entries in - to make sure you get in before the cutoff.  

Then, those who don't make it in time could try submitting their entries to a different judging region - one that, perhaps, has more judges to handle the higher volume of beers to be judged.

I'm just thinkin' out loud...
You realize that is exactly what was done this year, right?  Each region was capped at 750 entries.

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.
No.  I didn't realize they had done that this year.  That's a step in the right direction but yeah, varrying limits per region could be a headache to implement properly. 
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