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MHBT

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i live in long island NY and id really like to start entering beer into competitions more for critique from certified judges then metals but i have no clue how to make that happen, can someone point me in a direction please? also can you send beer via mail to the NHC for comp or do you need to be there in person?
 

CascadesBrewer

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also can you send beer via mail to the NHC for comp or do you need to be there in person?

Yes you can ship beers. This years entry signup has passed and for 2022 they require 6 beers (!!) and the entry fee is very high. NHC is a better fit for experienced brewers trying to compete for medals. With a local comp you will get good quality feedback (usually) with entry fees under $10.

A lot of competitions were cancelled over the past 2 years, and I am still seeing lots of competitions that are either cancelled or scaled way back. A recent DC area competition limited the number of entries and only allowed local entries.
 
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MHBT

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oh ok thank you for letting me know that, i greatly appreciate it, i had a feeling nhc was more for actual comp and not feedback cheers all
 
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I'd really like to start entering beer into competitions more for critique from certified judges then medals
Be sure to check with the competition to confirm that they will provide the critique that you are looking for.

As a former steward [2016-2018], there was a trend (in the competitions that I was involved in) towards less paperwork / critique. When these competitions returned in 2021 and early 2022, I looke for (and saw) a couple of the competition scoresheets. There was a continuation of the trend away from critique.

With that as background: please check with the competition web site to confirm that they will provide the critique that you are looking for.
 

friarsmith

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i live in long island NY and id really like to start entering beer into competitions more for critique from certified judges then metals but i have no clue how to make that happen, can someone point me in a direction please? also can you send beer via mail to the NHC for comp or do you need to be there in person?
Also check out local homebrewing clubs. They usually have BJCP judges and experienced brewers who will give honest feedback either in person, or, they might be willing to take a sample home and email you some critique. This is almost better than judging feedback as you can have some back n forth and get to the bottom of issues that arise.
 

FloppyKnockers

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Fully agree with @Spartan1979. Competitions won't give you the feedback you're expecting - Boy do I have stories about judging and judges. I know my beers are good. In fact, they're great. I want to pit them against other people who know their beers are the best as well and see who comes out on top (definition of competition?). Ribbons and medals look cool hanging on your brew room wall too.

I have found that my best feedback comes from friends (although not the best feedback as they are likely not to be too critical as it may interrupt their flow of free beer), homebrew peers, and the owner of a taproom/brewery that I would bring samples to.

There are a few homebrew trade threads on here that will likely result in some constructive feedback.

As far as competitions, I use this site (Beer Competition Registration - Login) to see what's going on. If it's close enough, you can find drop-off points for your beers. Otherwise, UPS, FedEx, DHL are the way to go.
 

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i live in long island NY and id really like to start entering beer into competitions more for critique from certified judges then metals but i have no clue how to make that happen, can someone point me in a direction please? also can you send beer via mail to the NHC for comp or do you need to be there in person?
"UPS only accepts packages containing beer from shippers who are licensed under applicable law and who have been approved for and entered into a contract with UPS for the transportation of beer. Shippers must possess a valid retailer or brewery license in their home states, and where applicable obtain a license or permit in the destination state."

 

BrewDrinkRepeat

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Fully agree with @Spartan1979. Competitions won't give you the feedback you're expecting

They are talking about NHC, not competitions in general. If you're not getting proper feedback at a regular comp then they have poor judges and/or run a poor competition.

(And yes, it is an unfortunate reality that there are bad judges everywhere, it's not something that is easy to "police". Many competitions are desperate for any judges they can get.)

As far as competitions, I use this site (Beer Competition Registration - Login) to see what's going on.

You realize that the Reggie site will only show you competitions that use the Reggie competition software (which is pretty awful compared to BCOEMS and others IMO, and is not widely used).

The best resource for upcoming competitions is the BJCP website. All competitions registered with the BJCP will appear there (unless they have specifically asked not to be listed).

_

As for NHC, it never ceases to amaze me how many people enter beers they know are not great (or even good), like in a "normal" local competition looking for feedback and advice. NHC is NOT the competition for that; the only beers anyone should enter in NHC are ones that they feel have at least a chance of making it past the first round.

And it is definitely not the right competition for anyone's first competition entry. Just don't do that. Yes, there have been people who have entered NHC for the first time with unproven beers and won medals (IIRC there was one person who entered their first beer ever and won), but those are so very rare and atypical.

I'd go so far as to say if the beer hasn't gotten very positive feedback locally (in competition(s), club meetings, etc.) and/or won at least one medal at a "regular" comp, I wouldn't bother sending it to NHC. Feedback is minimal, the first round is really just a vetting process to get to the second round.

NHC is for putting your very best foot forward, not for feedback on how to improve a beer or your brewing process.

Source: ran a first-round site for many years, and have judged every first-round and most second-rounds since the mid-00s.
 

FloppyKnockers

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They are talking about NHC, not competitions in general. If you're not getting proper feedback at a regular comp then they have poor judges and/or run a poor competition.

(And yes, it is an unfortunate reality that there are bad judges everywhere, it's not something that is easy to "police". Many competitions are desperate for any judges they can get.)


You realize that the Reggie site will only show you competitions that use the Reggie competition software (which is pretty awful compared to BCOEMS and others IMO, and is not widely used).

I've entered many competitions throughout the years and have never had one that didn't have at least a few bad judges. Sometimes the competition and their organizers was just a disaster waiting to happen. It has gotten worse and to the point I just stop reading the sheets. I just collect my medal/ribbon and move on.

I do realize that with ReggieBeer, but didn't see it mentioned previous so I wanted to throw it out there as an option. And yes, better software can be written on an etch-a-sketch.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Also check out local homebrewing clubs. They usually have BJCP judges and experienced brewers who will give honest feedback either in person, or, they might be willing to take a sample home and email you some critique. This is almost better than judging feedback as you can have some back n forth and get to the bottom of issues that arise.

One downside of feedback from homebrew clubs can be the "friendly" nature with people not wanting to hurt your feelings. Sometimes it can be hard to get honest feedback. The anonymous nature of a competition can help with this.

But I agree that a huge benefit is that you can have a conversation about the beer and dive into root causes of faults. A competition judge will have zero clue about the ingredients you are using or your process. A knowledgeable brewer might be able to help out with issues like recipe construction, water chemistry, sanitization, fermentation issues, etc.

You can also have a discussion about your goals for the beer. A competition is best for beers that fit into a defined style guideline. You might be trying to create a 4.2% Oatmeal Stout with a touch of smoked character, or you really enjoy brewing a Saison heavily hopped with Mosaic. In most competitions, these types of "deviations" are seen as flaws.
 
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MHBT

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One downside of feedback from homebrew clubs can be the "friendly" nature with people not wanting to hurt your feelings. Sometimes it can be hard to get honest feedback. The anonymous nature of a competition can help with this.

But I agree that a huge benefit is that you can have a conversation about the beer and dive into root causes of faults. A competition judge will have zero clue about the ingredients you are using or your process. A knowledgeable brewer might be able to help out with issues like recipe construction, water chemistry, sanitization, fermentation issues, etc.

You can also have a discussion about your goals for the beer. A competition is best for beers that fit into a defined style guideline. You might be trying to create a 4.2% Oatmeal Stout with a touch of smoked character, or you really enjoy brewing a Saison heavily hopped with Mosaic. In most competitions, these types of "deviations" are seen as flaws.
Definitely true, i gave a buddy a beer i knew had off flavors and i knew it was not good and asked my bud what he thought he said “ this is pretty good man” and kept drinking 6-7 beers, i knew he was being nice and free beer is free beer
 
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(And yes, it is an unfortunate reality that there are bad judges everywhere, it's not something that is easy to "police".
One reads a lot about bad judges here at HomeBrewTalk.

As a steward, maybe I was fortunate with the competitions I was involved in - and the tables / judges that I served. [Stewards often get to taste the good, the bad, and the ugly along with the judges]. AFAICT (and I sampled a lot of beer), the judges were 'spot on'. Occasionally, I'd serve a pair of judges who brought in a 3rd judge or who would ask me for an opinion.

Many competitions are desperate for any judges they can get.)

And a primary (but not only) consideration for me not becoming a judge was the (still) on-going complaints about a few bad judges here at HomeBrewTalk.



Competitions have changed since 2019 and will likely to change some more over the next year or two.

Be open to the possibility that each competition will be slightly different.

If one decides to enter competitions this year
  • please consider being patient with the process. There are a lot of people trying really hard to provide a quality event in a new environment.
and
  • please check with the competition web site to confirm that they will provide the critique that you are looking for.
 

Bobby_M

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The way it works is that people that enter beers and happen to get decent judges just move on to the next competition. The one time anyone gets bad judges and bad feedback are going to post about it over an over again.

Look for competitions that have been running annually for several years with consistent entry numbers or always hitting their entry cap. Those are generally better run. I tend to avoid ones that are "first annual xxx comp". When a comp first gets started up, they are generally in the weeds regarding judge availability and interest so they over accept and under deliver. As they figure it out, they can be more selective of the judges they use. After a few years, they get to know who the bad judges are because the good judges will tell the coordinator about any major issues. I'm not suggesting that a judge should get banned because of one disagreement, but as judge pairings shuffle, people tend to notice trends and get to talking.

We have one judge in our area that has been doing it for decades and admits that their ability to taste and smell beer is just about gone but they sign up for every comp in a 50 mile radius. The score delta between judging pairs involving this person is often massive and irreconcilable.

We have another one that takes like 30 minutes per beer. When you see this person at a table, you know for a fact they will be the last ones finished and will push the best of show judging back by at least an hour.
 
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The one time anyone gets bad judges and bad feedback are going to post about it over an over again.

Yup.

We have one judge ...

We have another one that ...

It's well known that people taste beer differently.

Apply that that 'imperfection' to the process of beer judging competitions.

As a brewer entering competitions, consider looking for ways to learn from the results - ignoring the occasional bad judge.

Oh ... Wait a minute ...

People entering competitions have already talked about that.

Rather than endlessly complaining about a random bad score, they found approaches to make the best out of they feedback the got.

And those techniques have been shared in various topics across a the various forums.
 
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dmtaylor

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I don't know whether I should interject, or not. My own thoughts, for whatever they might be worth (<2 cents):

  • Competitions ain't perfect;
  • Judges ain't perfect;
  • BJCP guidelines ain't perfect;
  • But many of each could be a lot better;
  • But it ain't gonna happen, so deal with it.

I believe all of these truths can peacefully co-exist.

Competitions are always a crapshoot, and effing expensive anyway. I don't bother entering anymore. Did for many years, learned how they work, and I still judge but don't enter. But, for those who do, like I said above, more power to ya.
 
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scrap iron

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You might join a homebrew club and they could help you with local comps. I would start by taking your best beers there and asking for honest evaluations. I'm not familiar with Long Island but I found a couple facebook groups there you might contact.
 
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Bobby_M

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I want to be clear that my comments about challenging judges and poorly run competitions is from the perspective of a judge, not an entrant. The advice was to look for more established competitions because the odds of better feedback are higher. That's it. I'm not saying any competition or judging process is perfect and no one would ever reasonably expect that.

Circling back to the OP's question:

This is a very long running competition that's coming up pretty soon, not too far for shipping entries.
New Jersey State Fair Homebrew Competition I've been judging in that one for a few years and it's pretty well run.

I agree with getting involved with a homebrew club if you have one local enough. I don't know of any clubs that don't have at least a couple BJCP judges and they may be willing to fill out a sheet for you. It will be slightly biased especially if you're a new member. They wouldn't want to scare anyone off.

Some clubs will set aside time before or after a meeting to blindly evaluate one beer (sometimes with BJCP scoresheets), which doubles as exam practice for up and coming judges. Just keep in mind that some clubs are very focused on BJCP and some are completely uninterested.
 

Deadalus

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You might join a homebrew club and they could help you with local comps. I would start by taking your best beers there and asking for honest evaluations. I'm not familiar with Long Island but I found a facebook groups there you might contact.
The language I am seeing in your link looks Russian and a Russian link on FB is questionable!
 
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MHBT

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I want to be clear that my comments about challenging judges and poorly run competitions is from the perspective of a judge, not an entrant. The advice was to look for more established competitions because the odds of better feedback are higher. That's it. I'm not saying any competition or judging process is perfect and no one would ever reasonably expect that.

Circling back to the OP's question:

This is a very long running competition that's coming up pretty soon, not too far for shipping entries.
New Jersey State Fair Homebrew Competition I've been judging in that one for a few years and it's pretty well run.

I agree with getting involved with a homebrew club if you have one local enough. I don't know of any clubs that don't have at least a couple BJCP judges and they may be willing to fill out a sheet for you. It will be slightly biased especially if you're a new member. They wouldn't want to scare anyone off.

Some clubs will set aside time before or after a meeting to blindly evaluate one beer (sometimes with BJCP scoresheets), which doubles as exam practice for up and coming judges. Just keep in mind that some clubs are very focused on BJCP and some are completely uninterested.
Cool bobby thanks
 

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I have to say, that while I enjoy the meetings of my local homebrew club, and appreciate the positive feedback I get from the people at them, my particular club is not reliable for negative feedback: no one will tell me when my beer is bad, has faults, or is not to style. I haven't figured out what to say to convince people that I'm really ready to hear about problems with my beer. Hence competitions.
 

Bobby_M

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I have to say, that while I enjoy the meetings of my local homebrew club, and appreciate the positive feedback I get from the people at them, my particular club is not reliable for negative feedback: no one will tell me when my beer is bad, has faults, or is not to style. I haven't figured out what to say to convince people that I'm really ready to hear about problems with my beer. Hence competitions.

We finally cracked the code in our club. We made it normal to ask people "do you want the truth?" before you even taste someone's beer. It's a little trick psychology because it's very rare that someone would say no. What it did was act more like a mantra such that we all agreed we wouldn't blow smoke because no one gets better if they are being lied to. The question is more like stating "I'll taste this beer and be honest about any flaws or recommendations and you can't be mad". As far as I know, no one has gotten offended and 95% of the brewers have improved quite a bit. I think one of the reasons this is successful is that any one of the more advanced brewers or BJCP judges that tastes an overt off flavor, they share that fact with the brewer and ask if it's OK to share that info with the rest of the club. Now everyone gets to taste that off flavor in the real world rather than some Seibel dosing kit.
 

dmtaylor

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@Bobby_M , our club here is the same way. We worry that our brutal honesty scares away potential new members. But then we keep on doing this anyway. Survival of the fittest, perhaps. Every person in the club is a skilled brewer with great ideas, most or maybe all have won awards in various contests.
 

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Have entered hundreds of comps over last 12-14 years and judged a few here and there. Couple tidbits I have picked up on:

  1. There is such a thing as regional tastes. I find beers that score great in East Coast comps, seem to score lower in say the Midwest. For example, a Czech Dark scoring 40+ in 4-5 east coast comps but only scoring in 20's in 2 comps in Midwest. A friend who is a national ranked judged mentioned this to me too.
  2. You will either get a lot of feedback on scoresheets, or very little. That's if you can even read the scoresheet. Lots of bad handwriting when you are trying to get through a lot of beers to judge, or judges using pencil, so when scoresheets are scanned, the writing is too faded.
  3. Don't be shocked to see conflicting comments from the two judges. Have had plenty of beers with one judge saying "not hoppy enough" while the other judge saying "dial back the hop" or "too hoppy" and so on.
  4. Send your beers to at least 2 or 3 comps...I have had beers with just an average score in one comp, win gold in another comp. Again it's all based on random judges tastebuds at that particular time.
  5. Keep a bottle of the beer to drink when you get the scoresheets and see if you can pick up with the judges are saying.
  6. Once you win your first ribbon/medal...then it becomes an obsession to win more!
 
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1. There is such a thing as regional tastes. [...]
This appears to apply to meads as well.

Back in the late 2010s I was a steward at a couple of mead tables. Low score for the tables was 35; bottles needed to score 43 (see added note) to move to mini-BOS. Happy judges and polite insightful commentary on meads in other regions of the USA.

eta (a day later): judges at each table could only send the two best entries to mini-BOS. In this event, the best entries were 43(or higher).
 
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bwible

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Do you have a local homebrew store? I would start there if you do. Search for any local homebrew clubs. Competitions are usually run and sponsored by clubs.
 

bwible

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I don't know whether I should interject, or not. My own thoughts, for whatever they might be worth (<2 cents):

  • Competitions ain't perfect;
  • Judges ain't perfect;
  • BJCP guidelines ain't perfect;
  • But many of each could be a lot better;
  • But it ain't gonna happen, so deal with it.

I believe all of these truths can peacefully co-exist.

Competitions are always a crapshoot, and effing expensive anyway. I don't bother entering anymore. Did for many years, learned how they work, and I still judge but don't enter. But, for those who do, like I said above, more power to ya.
I judged years ago but I’ve been an IT guy with a crappy work schedule for way too long now and I have to work every Saturday so I haven’t judged for at least 15 years because all the competitions are always on Saturdays.
 
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MHBT

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Do you have a local homebrew store? I would start there if you do. Search for any local homebrew clubs. Competitions are usually run and sponsored by clubs.
I had a homebrew shop very close by joined the club years ago but they closed down
 

bwible

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Yes you can ship beers. This years entry signup has passed and for 2022 they require 6 beers (!!) and the entry fee is very high. NHC is a better fit for experienced brewers trying to compete for medals. With a local comp you will get good quality feedback (usually) with entry fees under $10.

A lot of competitions were cancelled over the past 2 years, and I am still seeing lots of competitions that are either cancelled or scaled way back. A recent DC area competition limited the number of entries and only allowed local entries.
Some of the competitions are also requiring 3 or 4 bottles now because the judging is being done virtually/remotely and each judge needs their own beer.
 

bwible

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I had a homebrew shop very close by joined the club years ago but they closed down
Unfortunately thats been a trend. Small stores don’t really make alot of money and there is not a huge customer base compared to say a pizza shop. Everybody eats pizza. By comparison very few people homebrew. Nobody is getting rich running a local homebrew shop. Covid shutdowns, the high price of gas which affects the cost of shippping to get stock, as well as fierce competition from large online retailers offering free shipping have all really hurt the little guys.
 
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MHBT

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Unfortunately thats been a trend. Small stores don’t really make alot of money and there is not a huge customer base compared to say a pizza shop. Everybody eats pizza. By comparison very few people homebrew. Nobody is getting rich running a local homebrew shop. Covid shutdowns, the high price of gas which affects the cost of shippping to get stock, as well as fierce competition from large online retailers offering free shipping have all really hurt the little guys.
Yeah its really unfortunate, something different about walking into a shop, smelling the malts, shooting the sh$&, meeting other brewers vs a box showing up at the door
 
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More information on the "competitions have changed since 2019":

A competition I've followed since 2016 is back (again) in 2022. Limited to first 250 entries. IIRC, that down from a peak of 450 or 500.

Competitions are coming back, often at a lower capacity. And probably with different score sheets.

Please help by making sure that you know what you're going to get for feedback before you enter.
 

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We have one judge in our area that has been doing it for decades and admits that their ability to taste and smell beer is just about gone but they sign up for every comp in a 50 mile radius. The score delta between judging pairs involving this person is often massive and irreconcilable.

We have another one that takes like 30 minutes per beer. When you see this person at a table, you know for a fact they will be the last ones finished and will push the best of show judging back by at least an hour.
Both of these should be dealt with by the competition coordinator(s).

Someone who admits they can no longer taste or smell to the degree necessary to judge shouldn't be allowed to judge, plain and simple. If they took the exam today they would likely fail, so...

Speeding someone up is obviously harder (I say this as someone who is most definitely NOT the fastest judge in the room, but I write a TON so hopefully that helps!) but efforts should be made.
 
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