Did the AHA Drop the Ball with the National Homebrewers Competition?

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8 Responses

  1. Kenneth says:

    I got one entry in early, sub # 30 and that after much refresh hammer to the server. After that it was downhill for an hour, until they fixed the MySQL connection limit in the config. After the fix, entries were flying in because so many people had mashed up waiting to try and enter their beers. I did get all three of mine in under the 750 mark, and paid later that night after they re-opened the payment system. Still I agree they really messed up with how it worked. Personally I think a lottery system would be much better, you input how many beers you would like to enter, and then the system allocated available slots (days or weeks later) to people as random as possible, one beer at a time. If they have slots left, then you might get to enter more. If you can’t put your best beer forward, why are you entering? People don’t need to enter 15 beers when there’s only 8,250 slots.

    • simplybeer says:

      lottery is an interesting idea. No matter what is done, it is still going to piss off people, not much you can do about that, it is a popular event. This year it just seem like a perfect storm of errors that I hope open some people eyes at the AHA.

  2. Robert French says:

    I think the biggest problem is just trying to pull off this large of a competition. 30K members and only 8250 entries, that math does not make sense. And to top it off, you are locked into a single drop off location with a max of 750 spots. Even if only 25% of the members wanted to enter a couple beers that’s 15,000 entries.

    I really think they need to reevaluate the competition. Maybe limit it to just a couple of entries, maybe a lottery or even regional qualification round.

    The only blame I put on the AHA is not paying enough attention. Any homebrewer on twitter or facebook knows how big this hobby has gotten. How many beer blogs, podcasts, clubs and new breweries have popped up in the last 4 years? It’s crazy (good) right now.

    If the AHA does want to change the format, then they should at least think about a few things.

    1. Only open to AHA members.
    2. Do a “first wave” entry where you can only enter one beer. Then wait few days to make sure payments are processed then re-open registration.
    3. Limit entries to a reasonable amount, say 4.
    4. Raise the entry fee after your first entry, this would make brewers think twice about how good their beer really is.

    • simplybeer says:

      HI Robert, Great point about the AHA not being aware of the scope of their membership. This “hobby” is huge now, when I started… ehhem 16 years ago it was hard to find ingredients, especially quality ingredients. Now you can get a homebrewing kit at Bed Bath and Beyond, internet is a huge wealth of knowledge and places to buy the craziest ingredients.

      Another problem the AHA is going to have is judges, there are not enough bjcp judges around to fill the need for the number of entries per region. more regions? You have Philly, NY, NJ, and New England going to 1 site, that is crazy. Maybe increase the number of regions and decrease the number of entries per region, that may help spread out the judging, If I were a judge, i doubt I would travel 6hours to judge in these rounds…

      There are lots of questions and tons of ideas out there to make this more efficient.

  3. Robert French says:

    Peter, you and I are “Old School” (16+ years), but last year was the first time I ever entered the Nationals. I totally agree about the bjcp judges and locations. San Diego was my choice, look at the map it’s also crazy how big of an area that covers for entries.

    It’s pretty damn frustrating, but I knew it would be crazy. Even in perfect conditions the competition would have sold out in quickly. For those great brewers who couldn’t be in front of their computer at the beginning would have been out of luck regardless.

    I love what the AHA has done for the hobby and I have no ill feelings towards the organization, but if they want the competition to happen they need to get creative….FAST.

  4. Chris says:

    They suck…. I entered a few years ago, and had no issues 2011.
    The AHA has grown a lot and they have not scaled to meet the demand. I called them at 3:30 Eastern and got a “dude” on the phone…. his take on the issue reminded me of CRUSH from Finding Nemo.
    I agree the website company should take the blame but I also think the AHA should step up. While ‘Home Brewing’ is a hobby for most, the National Organization should be a bit more professional. I get the feeling it is a bunch of college kids at a kegger.

    I also think the design of the regional site was horrible too!!!
    I design websites for a living and I had a hard time figuring out what to do first?
    Do I Contact?
    Do I register?

    The AHA web page was vague as what to click on to register…

    The email they sent all members the morning of the registration was unclear as well….. I was looking for a link to register… turns out you had to click on the JUDGING CENTER link to register…. I found the entire process confusing and convoluted.

  5. Chris says:

    My suggestion for scaling the competition is like Peter said, add more regions… and Robert by adding a preliminary round.

    Lets face it they charge $33 a year membership… plus $12 a beer….. they have plenty of money to scale the event to the size it needs to be. They just need to step up to the plate!

    • simplybeer says:

      there seems to be a lot of pressure coming from many different homebrew groups to pick up the pieces and have AHA get their act together.