Applied for the AHA National Competition

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by Wood House Hall, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. Wood House Hall

    Wood House Hall Active Member

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    I just thought I'd share this...I applied for my first brewing competition today - the American Homebrewers Association National Contest.

    I'm entering my "Katz in the Kradle" American IPA

    Any stories about brewing competitions? Cheers!

    Snip-it_1486170672512.jpg
     
  2. CRUNK

    CRUNK Well-Known Member

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    Non here but good luck, let us know how you make out.
     
  3. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to enter this year and use something I've already brewed or wait until next year and plan something out this summer for the competition.
     
  4. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I haven't entered my beer in a competition yet but am planning to this year. Good luck
     
  5. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Good luck!
    I normally judge the first round and then the finals at the NHC, but this year I'm going to be missing all of the first rounds that I"m near. The first round that I would go to normally is in Indianapolis (last year Chicago), but it's early this year and I won't be home from Texas yet. The first round in Texas is after I leave Texas to go home! So this year I'll just be judging in Minneapolis.

    There are a couple of things different about the NHC. As you know, you'll get scoresheets from the first round and if you advance to the second round, you'll send more beers in. It's a great feeling to win the National, for sure! However, for many people who don't aspire to win but want good solid feedback on their entry, sometimes a smaller but well regarded competition is better. You'll get better scoresheets (generally speaking), because in the NHC we use "checklist" type of score sheets at least in the final round.

    I've been judging since 2006. What advice I'd give to to remember that your beer will be judged strictly to style guidelines so make sure that you've nailed those guidelines. What I mean is this- say you brewed the world's best beer. It's perfect in every way, but doesn't fit into the style guideline you entered it in. Say you entered it as am amber ale, but it's got some roast to it that tastes awesome. Well, it will probably score very very poorly, because an amber ale should have caramel notes, but no roast, and mild to moderate hops. So many times I've tried a beer that has been GREAT, but scored it in the low 30s or high 20s, because it did not represent the style. So make sure it fits.

    The other thing that can happen with a brewer entering a comp for the first time is the expectations. First, a very good beer will score 30-37, while an excellent will score 38-44. Above 44 is world class. (This is out of 50). Few beers, even commercial beers, are "world class" or even "excellent". So if you score, say, 34, that's a good score! But many brewers think they have a 50/50 beer and get angry when they don't score well. A quality competition will give you a scoresheet on improving the beer, the flaws they detect and how to correct them, and tell you how you may have missed the mark. For the scoresheet we use, see this: http://www.bjcp.org/docs/SCP_BeerScoreSheet.pdf

    Some brewers have Ugly Baby Syndrome. You know, like parents who think Junior is the most beautiful child in the universe but the rest of the world sees an ugly baby. Brewers will do that- have UBS over a mediocre beer. If you and your friends love it, that's great but it doesn't mean you have a 46 point beer there. High scores are rare, so make sure your expectations are reasonable. It's so disappointing to not score as you might have hoped, but it can be a great learning experience!
     
  6. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Make sure you enter the correct beer ! I entered an APA of mine as a German pils , i have spoken to one of the judges over a beer and he tells me it was a great APA but as a pils it scored very low .
    Yet to see my score sheet and in no rush to do so
     
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  7. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    Yeah I would have no intentions of winning anything or even making it to the finals. I just wanted some feedback on my beer. But maybe if that's what I'm looking for, maybe a smaller local competition would be better. However, good luck to all those that enter!
     
  8. Wood House Hall

    Wood House Hall Active Member

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    Yooper, great feedback and advice here. Thanks for the response. IF I am accepted into the competition (have only applied at this point), I'll be submitting my brew to Indianapolis. I live near Champaign, IL and Indy is only 1 hr 45 min away. I listed Chicago as my secondary judging center.

    I have an IPA I really love and, according to the actual specs, it meets the style guidelines. I have 0 expectations in really winning anything at this point but thought it would be fun to participate and get the first professional feedback on a brew I've made.

    I guess my only question is, how much do I need to reserve for the competition? I made a 5 gallon batch and want to drink it, but I know I need to keep some out in case I get called out of the bullpen. I bottled in Grolsch bottles.

    Thanks again. I'll let you know if my app gets accepted.
     
  9. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    Check out the rules. There are some specifics about labels and what is on the cap. For the first round, you need to send 2 bottles. If you go on to the finals, you need to send an additional 3 bottles. But definitely check out the rules because they list some things and specifically say that if you don't follow it, it could disqualify you.
     
  10. newmanwell

    newmanwell Active Member

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    I'll be judging in the first round down in Tampa. I don't think I'm going to make it to the conference this year so it's unlikely that I'll be judging in the second round.
     
  11. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Well, the bad new is that green Grosch bottles are not accepted. Only 10-12 ounce beer bottles are allowed, with unmarked bottles/caps (you can use a sharpie to cover any words on the cap).

    Most competitions are the same way- no "identifiable" bottles but some are more lenient than others. Some will even accept 22 ounce bottles, but most will reject them if they are not allowed by the rules.

    It's all spelled out in the rules. If you break a rule, generally your entry won't even be judged. https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/homebrewassoc/wp-content/uploads/2016-NHC-Entrant-Handbook.pdf

    There is more info in that handbook, but the part that matters here is:

    Container Size & Appearance
     Hold a minimum of 10 ounces (296 ml) in volume.
     No more than 2.75 inches (7 cm) in diameter and no more than 9 inches (23 cm) in height.*
     Flip tops and 22 oz bottles are not acceptable.
     Must be free of ink, paint, or paper labeling other than the competition entry label.
     Bottle caps must be neutral i.e. no lettering or graphics.


    AND
    For each entry, send two (2) bottles for evaluation in the First Round. (Example: 2 entries would require 4 bottles in total, two bottles for each entry) Final Round: Three bottles will be required for each entry that advances to the Final Round. These are not to be sent with First Round bottle entries. If you advance, you will receive further instructions in April.
    (So you would need 5 bottles, or you could re-brew to get another three if you make it in and want it to be fresher).
     
  12. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Yooper , can you say how many entries are bottle conditioned and if that has any impact on scores ?
    Sure judges know how to pour a beer but do the entries get a few days upright in the fridge to ensure they drop clear ?
     
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  13. Wood House Hall

    Wood House Hall Active Member

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    Yup, thanks Yooper...I read the rule book after I applied (typical Marine, jump first then ask for the parachute mid free-fall :)). I am going to have to either rebrew or transfer some beer to 12 oz bottles. I "inherited" so many grolsch bottles from the man that got me brewing that it's my default bottle if I'm not kegging - I had no ideas of entering the competition until I tried this IPA and, in the same day, got an email from the AHA on the competition.

    If transfer or rebrew doesn't work I may enter my APA which is good on its own merits and I do have that in 12 ouncers with plain silver caps.

    So, we shall see. This is all assuming I get a spot in the competition in the first place!
     
  14. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I would say that many are bottle conditioned, but most are probably bottled form the keg.

    Remember that appearance counts for 3 points, so even a hazy beer will score two out of three in appearance unless there is something else in appearance that detracts. Out of 50 total points, a hazy beer won't impact the score much if at all.

    Entries are all handled the same, as properly as possible.
     
  15. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Yooper , appearance isn't my primary concern but thinking more along lines of yeast derived flavours in the more delicate styles .

    Do judges allow for this ?
    In my local comps we can use whatever colour or style of bottle we like as the judges never see them , i use only the Grolsch swingtops (450 ml ) so have to submit 2 per entry , i actually wonder if this isnt a slight advantage since there are fewer pours from bottle meaning less yeast will get stirred up .
     
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  16. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Judges are very experienced brewers, and have seen more than hundreds of bottle conditioned beers. Yes, we know how to pour them!
     
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  17. newmanwell

    newmanwell Active Member

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    On a side note to that I would have to say that becoming a BJCP judge helped my brewing skills tremendously.
     
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  18. Wood House Hall

    Wood House Hall Active Member

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    Well, I'm in. I received the confirmation email tonight. I'll be sending in the payment tomorrow.

    Now I just need to finalize what beer I send in. I really want to submit my Katz in the Kradle IPA as its on style and tastes amazing....but, it's in the swing top green bottles. Now I could either transfer to 12 ounce bottles and add one of those carbonation sugar pills or I could submit my APA (which is good but not as good as my IPA, in my opinion).

    I welcome advice how to get the IPA into a permitted bottle.

    Thanks all - this has been anamed informative and entertaining forum thus far.

    Cheers!
     
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  19. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Itll be a bit of a waste, but could you keg up some bottles, then bottle off the keg?

    Or I guess that's more trouble than your idea with the drops. What the heck do I know, I've been trying to empty the co2 tank tonight....almost there
     
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  20. Wood House Hall

    Wood House Hall Active Member

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    I thought about that, jmac, but all my kegs are full. Unless someone hands down a golden idea in the next 48 hrs I'll probably just try the drops and cross my fingers.

    At the end of the day, it's $14 and it's supposed to be fun....sooooo live and learn.
     

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