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Brew Beer…Compete!

NHC Competition 1So, I’m struggling getting this post started. Why? Well, I’ll tell you. As most of you know last Wednesday was the opening (and closing) of the National Homebrewers Competition (NHC). I know it seems benign enough but for a lot of homebrewers it’s a stressful time. First, you plan out your schedule so that your best beers are brewed on time and are peaking at the appropriate time. Second, you have to make sure that at 3:00 EST on Wednesday March xx, 20xx you are sitting in front of your computer ready to go. And third, you need to pray that the folks at the America Homebrewers Association (AHA) have all their systems working like a fine Swiss watch so you can get registered and all your beer entered before the competition sells out. What could possible go wrong?

First, unless your name is Tyler Kidd (with 2 d’s) you never get your beers brewed at quite the right time. Next, most of us have to work on Wednesday at 3:00. So, stealing an hour or so in the middle of the work day is difficult. And lastly, AHA struggles with getting their systems firing on all cylinders. This is not a slam on the AHA mind you. They have worked very hard to get things running smoothly but it has been difficult for them to keep up with the growth of the hobby. That’s not a bad thing.

Back to last Wednesday’s events. NHC registration opens up and the flood gates open. AHA systems promptly crash and BAM! Registration screeches to a halt. Facebook and Twitter go berserk. What the hell is happing? Why can’t I get registered? Is anyone else having these problems? Damn it, not again! AHA shuts down registration until they can get the “bugs” worked out. Some of the judging stations were full and some were not. Nobody knew what was happening and everybody I knew had resigned themselves to not getting everything (or anything) entered into the competition. I was not able to get anything entered.

Several days ago I received an email from AHA saying they were going to open registration again to those people that were registered but got shut out from registering any beers. Woohooo! The beer gods were shining down on me (and hopefully a few other JRHB folks as well). My beer got registered and no one was any worse for the wear. Hopefully, next year will be a little smoother, but, from my experience, next year’s NHC will provide me with another story. But that’s okay. I’ll be there doing it all again. And here’s why….. the competition is worth it. Even if you never win a single medal you will get valuable feedback from some great judges that will translate into making better beer. And isn’t that what we’re all trying to do anyway?

If you didn’t get into the NHC there are plenty of other smaller competitions you can enter. The Dominion Cup comes to mind…

Get in the game! Make better beer!

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