Monday, August 30, 2010

And the race is on!

But how do you enter said race? Brewer Nick just messaged me this morning and asked me what the general process of entering the competition is. I said "Nick, let me answer that... in a song... ahem... blog."

So you want to compete? Well unbeknownst to many people there are actually hundreds of beer competitions across the United States. The easiest way to find these competitions is to join your local homebrew club! Seriously. Not only is it great fun, you get to drink a lot of free beer. Your homebrew club should have a listing of local competitions around and what time they take place. If your homebrew club is as awesome as mine is (this one's for you CFHB.org) they will even ship your entries to the competition for free. There are competitions that you can easily enter, but you have to be a member of the American Homebrewers Association. So to find a competition get off your butt and join a club!
Ok, so the competition is in sight, and the entry deadline is fast approaching. If you've just started brewing it's probably too late. Sorry. But your beer better be in top condition to ship it off to these judges (as they are unforgiving, and will pick your beer apart.) To sign up for a competition is really easy though. The competitions are generally held by other local homebrew clubs and their websites will have information on how and when to sign up.

Signing up is as easy as filling out the form to order "silly bandz" for bribing angsty teenagers to do your bidding. Sign up, pay via paypal (if you want), and you will be provided a series of labels to print out. One entry consists of 3 bottles. You cut out the labels and using a rubberband (they are very specific to that) and attach the label to each bottle. If you didn't pay via paypal slip a check into you box with the rest of your bottles. I use old six-pack containers to ship entries, but you can do whatever you want.

Shipping is a touchy issue. Technically, shipping alcohol via mail is illegal as far as I can tell. You can check out the extensive discussion over at Homebrewtalk.com here. However, as I said before your homebrew club or local homebrew store will often ship your entries for you for free.

When you sign up for the competition, one thing they'll ask you is what style your submitted beer it. This is the most critical step of signing up. You can make the best cupcakes in the entire world, but they wouldn't score very well at a chili cook-off now would they? The same goes for beer. If you make a IPA, and submit it for judging under the ciders: fail. All beers are judged to a category. That being said, your beer could compete in multiple categories if it's resting on the fringe of the category you intended. For example if you make a English Bitter you could probably submit two entries; one for English bitter, and one for extra special bitter.

The judges will fill out their judging scorecards and award you a score. After the competition is over the top winners of each category will be announced (and you might even get a medal!) After a week or so you'll receive your scores in the mail. Be prepared though, as I said earlier: the judges will pick your beer apart. It's what they do. They even have EXAMS to be an official beer judge (bjcp.org). It's all constructive criticism of course. So take it in stride, hold your head high, make better beer, and take on the next competition! Welcome to the Wide World of Beer Sports!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! That makes it easier. I really should join a club!

    ReplyDelete