I’m excited to share some news with you about the 2021 National Homebrew Competition: It’s happening!
It broke our hearts when we had to cancel the 2020 competition just as it was set to get underway. Not having that annual tradition for our hundreds of dedicated judges and volunteers and our thousands of entrants left a hole in the spring and summer.
But you know that saying about lemons and lemonade? Well, we took homebrew competition entries for a canceled competition and made hand sanitizer for essential workers. Since then, we’ve learned a few things. First, hand sanitizer is great, but nothing beats a homebrew. Second, we never want to cancel NHC again.
With uncertainty forecasted for 2021, we are doing everything we can to ensure NHC happens. After all, if you’re like us, you’ve probably been brewing more than ever. And the judges in your quarantine bubble might be suffering from palate fatigue.
Our dedication is this: We will bring you the our best effort on NHC ever. Here’s how we plan to do that.
- In 2021, there will be no first and final round format. The competition will be a one-site location only and all entries will be judged from the AHA’s refrigerated warehouse in Colorado.
- This September, many of us at the AHA helped execute the safe judging of nearly 9,000 entries at the Great American Beer Festival® with no COVID-19 transmission. And we learned from them. We will be using what we learned to run the NHC using the Great American Beer Festival competition model.
- We want to get you the best judging experience ever, so we’ll be partnering with Great American Beer Festival and BJCP certified judges.
- We typically judge about 1,300 entries for the NHC Final Round. This year, we’ll be ready to judge upwards of 5,000 entries.
- Release the 2021 Rules & Regulations in December so everyone may prepare.
Competition Pricing & Budget Update
In order to make this event possible, we will be increasing the entry fee to $29 per entry. The increase will allow us to conduct all of the judging in one place and to take the necessary health and safety precautions. The one-fee structure, rather than two separate fees for a first-round and final round ($16+$9), will enable us to take the necessary steps to conduct a world-class judging experience that all brewers, professional or amateur, can be proud to be a part of.
In the past, the competition has not covered all of its expenses and at times has operated at a loss. There is a need to change the pricing structure to help us mitigate growing competition expenses and ensure the competition will happen in 2021 and future years. At the current entry limit, the competition will operate at a net neutral budget after overhead expenses – in other words, not generating a whole lot of money.
Large expenses to host this competition include:
- Catering for 100+ people over six days
- Rental equipment and facilities (tables, chairs, reefer trucks, permits, sorting supplies, etc.)
- Misc. Competition supplies (cups, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, office supplies, printing, etc.)
- Labor and salaries
- Software and IT support
We believe this new structure and format will improve the competition for the entrant and the judges by a) evaluating all entries in parallel rather than over a six week period and b) establish consistent judging in one location rather than over 13 locations.
We understand that 2020 has been a challenging year for many and we continue to think about ways we can support you all. We believe that one silver lining is that many of us have had the chance brew a few more batches, and maybe even share a few more beers with friends. Our community is important to us, and ensuring the competition happens in 2021 is an important part of building that community, have something to look forward to, and have a reason to celebrate.
We invite you to hone your favorite recipe and share it with us in 2021. Our judges promise to evaluate your beers fully, fairly, and impartially.
We’re excited to take this step with you all!
Competition Manager/NHC Director
A Note on Homebrew Con 2021
P.S. The changes made to the competition are independent of Homebrew Con 2021. More information on Homebrew Con will be announced in January. We are working hard, having ongoing conversations with the host city of San Diego and paying close attention to information regarding the evolving nature of this pandemic, and how it affects live events such as ours. We stand ready to host the event if it can be done in a safe manner and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through the situation