Well, not exactly, but homebrewing competitions add another dimension to the hobby. Want to try to test your homebrewing skills by nailing a particular style? Want honest, unbiased feedback from beer judges regarding your beers, detailing how you can fine tune your creation to make it even better? Do you just want the bragging rights that comes with placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd in category, or better yet, Best of Show?
Homebrewers enter homebrew competitions for all of the above reasons and many more. Homebrew Competitions are a great way to fine tune your recipes and brewing procedures, and get helpful feedback from certified beer judges, which can benefit your brewing procedures or recipe formulation. The feedback from the judges can also help identify offflavors or flaws. What is that funky, creamed corn odor emanating from your homebrew, and what causes it? What is that medicinal, harsh flavor you are detecting? Enter your beer and find out! Feedback is usually honest and direct, and judging is done blind.
Entry fees generally run from $5$7 per entry to cover costs, and usually require 2 to 3 (12 oz.) bottles per entry from the brewer. Small price to pay for information that can greatly improve your homebrew! Competitions are usually sponsored by homebrew clubs all across the U.S., and many clubs have annual competitions.
Some tips to increase the chances of your homebrew scoring well at homebrew competitions:
- Proper sanitation is key when brewing!! Your beer will not do well if it is infected or has major flaws. On the other hand, enter it and find out just what those flaws are that you can’t pinpoint!
- Make sure you know the rules/regulations/requirements of the specific competition you are entering, including day of the event, entry due date, entry fee, # of bottles you need to enter, any entry restrictions, entry drop off or mail in location (as it may differ from the actual judging location), bottle specifics etc. Contact the competition organizer if you have any questions.
- Ensure that you enter your beer into the correct and appropriate style category and subcategory to be judged. THIS IS CRUCIAL AND CANNOT BE STRESSED ENOUGH. Taste it, read the style guidelines used for the competition, and make a determination of what it is exactly based on the guideline criteria.
- Makes sure the outsides of your bottles are clean and presentable and they have a proper fill level. You will not have points deducted for dirty bottles or low fill levels but they generally are the first thing a judge notices, and you want to make a good first impression!
- Most competitions require that you do not use distinctive bottles with raised lettering, and also most require you to black out the top of your bottle caps.
- Be sure to taste your homebrew before entering it to make sure the carbonation level is adequate.
- Use fresh brewing ingredients.
- Be cognizant of entry date deadlines, making sure your beer that you want to enter will be finished by then!
- Pack your entries carefully and securely if mailing them in, you don’t want to enter broken bottles!
- Fill out your entry forms/bottle forms completely and reread them for accuracy.
Good luck and let us know how you do!