The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is proud to organize the world’s largest beer competition annually, the National Homebrew Competition (NHC), and we’re humbled by the tremendous interest and support the NHC has enjoyed from homebrewers everywhere.
The record-setting growth that the competition has experienced in the last several years has been wonderful-and introduced its own challenges to be navigated. Over the past few years, the AHA staff and Governing Committee have worked together to implement changes to the competition to streamline the process and maintain high-quality judging.
Specifically, in recent years the NHC has:
- Introduced online entry registration;
- Established a limit of 750 entries that any one judge center can accept to ensure quality judging, while simultaneously eliminating restrictions on which judge center entrants can submit to;
- Added an additional judge center (in 2012);
- Provided supplemental support for first round judge centers.
In 2012, each U.S. judge center filled to its capacity of 750 entries within 48 hours of online entry registration opening-this despite an additional new judge center.
For 2013 NHC, the AHA Governing Committee’s Competition Subcommittee has implemented several changes aimed at responding to the competition’s growth and further improving upon the quality of the judging. Specifically, 2013 NHC competition rules and organization include the following:
1. New entry cap. Each entrant may submit no more than 15 entries. Previously there was no maximum number of entries per entrant.
2. The addition of an 11th U.S. judging site.*
3. A requirement of two bottles per entry for all first round entries. This will increase the quality of judging by allowing for fresh bottles to be judged for winner selection in mini-best-of-show rounds.
4. More specific criteria for Ninkasi Award tie breaker. The introduction of an entry cap increases the likelihood of multiple entrants tying for points earned in the final round of the competition. The new tie breaking criteria will help to ensure the most qualified entrant takes the award.
5. Implementation of a new database and entry registration software. The 2013 NHC will use a modified version of the popular Brew Competition Online Entry Management program. This change will streamline the data entry process for competition site directors and shorten the time it takes to get data back to the NHC director, which ultimately should mean a quicker turnaround in communicating results to entrants.
6. Entry fee increase of an additional $2 per entry. The additional revenue generated from this fee increase will fund enhancements to support first round judge centers that are intended improve the judging experience.
Each of these changes is designed to allow more AHA members to participate in the competition while simultaneously improving upon the quality of the competition.
Still, it is likely that the competition will sell out again this year. The reality is that there are more people interested in entering the NHC than there are places with enough judges to host additional judge centers. With recent changes being made to the Beer Judge Certification Program, the AHA hopes that more qualified judges will be available for future competitions, allowing the AHA to continue to expand the NHC and accommodate as many AHA members that wish enter the competition as possible.
*There will no longer be a separate Canadian qualifying competition as part of the National Homebrew Competition. Canadian residents wishing to enter the NHC should send entries directly to one of the U.S. judging centers. This change is being made in part due to requests from Canadian entrants who would prefer to enter at U.S. judging centers that in many cases are closer than the Canadian qualifying competition. The change also reflects the fact that currently there are vastly more AHA members in the U.S. than in Canada.