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National Homebrew Competition: What’s New in 2020

National Homebrew Competition: What’s New in 2020

Hi, everyone!

Each year after the Final Round concludes, the American Homebrewers Association Competition Subcommittee discusses changes and improvements to the National Homebrew Competition (NHC). The highlights for 2020 are as follows:

  • Implementing a $9/entry fee in NHC Final Round and only for Final Round entries (see below)
  • Moving Baltic Porter and Imperial Stout into the same NHC category
  • Separating Spice & Specialty meads into their own NHC categories, for a total of 35 NHC categories
  • Adding in the provisional styles (X1-X5) to the category lists
  • Making 17A available for specialty information to accommodate Burton Ale

The NHC Rules & Regulations are available and will be continuously updated, including details about First Round judge centers and shipping information. Make sure you read them! Most questions can be answered in the Rules & Regulations before emailing

The deadline to register or update homebrew club information is December 31, 2019, to be eligible for the competition major awards.

Important dates have been posted on the competition’s homepage and on the Dates & Deadlines page. Updates will be provided as soon as they’re received in the From the Director section and in the NHC Rules & Regulations. Please check back regularly.

Final Round Pricing Update

As part of the AHA’s and Competition Subcommittee‘s commitment to ensuring a well-run, enjoyable competition and maintaining the long-term viability of the competition, we are introducing a $9/entry fee for Final Round of the 2020 National Homebrew Competition. The First Round entry fee ($16/entry) will not change in 2020.

In the past, the competition has not covered all its expenses and at times has operated at a net loss. There is a need to introduce a Final Round entry fee to help us mitigate growing competition expenses, particularly those associated with running the Final Round of the competition.

Over the last ten years, we’ve experienced lots of growth.

  • Grown from 8 to 13 First Round judge centers
  • Added 7 categories
  • Doubled the number of Final Round entries to 1,300+, which we judge in a single day.
  • Host 250+ judges and stewards
  • Moved judging to convention centers, incurring higher costs for things like judge meals ($17,000 in 2018) and space rental than a typical competition

At $9/entry, the Final Round entry fee won’t fully cover the Final Round expenses, but it will help ensure that the competition is sustainable and can continue to grow over the next decade.

We believe the competition’s growth has been positive for our members and the hobby of homebrewing, and we will continue to make improvements on your behalf.

2020 NHC Important Dates
Competition Application Open Enrollment January 14 (10 a.m. MT)–
January 22 (3 p.m. MT)
Beer Registration & Payment By February 14
First Round Shipping Window February 20–March 5
First Round Judging March 13–April 5

*Information regarding the Final Round entry and judging will be posted at a later date. Keep an eye out for updates from the NHC director


John Moorhead

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American Homebrewers Association competition coordinator John Moorhead is director of the National Homebrew Competition, coordinates the Great American Beer Festival® Pro-Am Competition and the Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition, assists with homebrew legislative efforts, and writes for