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Disappointing Homebrew Contest

This year the local area advertised on the AHA website that they were holding a certified competition during a local celebration and that this year they were going to have a certified Beer Judge versus the two previous years where a few guys got together and tasted the entered beer and picked the one they liked the best.

So seeing a chance to have my homebrew evaluated by a certified judge and get some good feedback (not that the people in the homebrew club don’t give feedback but it is usually this will go great after mowing the lawn type of feedback). I entered four beers a Munich Helles, an American Lager based on Sam Adams, Brown Ale, and an Apricot Blonde.

Went to the celebration to see the results of the contest on the judging day…When my wife and I arrived we observed the people judging the contest, and I recognized four of the six doing the judging…Out of the four I recognized only two of them I would trust to judge beer as the own and run the local brewery. The other two I am not sure if I would trust their experience as judges but, like the rest of us are accomplished beer drinkers. I found out the certified beer judge didn’t show, so they got a “volunteer” from the crowd to fill in…The other person judging was evidently part of the “craft beer committee” for the celebration.

The reason I entered the contest and PAID MONEY was to kind of get a piece of decent feedback through a score sheet to have some idea where I am at in the now almost 8 year odyssey of my homebrewing. I found out that the judging was done with the organizer splitting the field and having three of the people who were judging taste half of the field and the other three tasting the other half. No idea how things were split into classes flights and so on.

The three judges then picked the top two from the 12 they drank one of the judges appeared slightly intoxicated at the end of the judging. I was speaking with one of the other entrants who advised after speaking with the organizer that there were no score sheets kept WTF!!! I didn’t pay 20 plus bucks to have a group of guys sit around and drink my beer…Very disappointed that I may end up with absolutely no feedback.

That is disappointing. I don’t enter contests but if I did it would only be a contest sanctioned by an organization like AHA.

I don’t know how these work on the back end, but if this was AHA sanctioned and money was taken, I imagine the AHA would frown upon this.

Maybe someone like @denny can chime in…

First we need to be clear about something…the AHA does not sanction comps. The BJCP does that. Anyone can list their comp on the AHA website, but that does not necessarily mean it’s sanctioned by either organization.

And even if it is sanctioned, neither organization has any control over how the organizers run it. That’s really where your issue lies, with the local organizers.


We are able to enter our home-brews in our local county fairs. They DO use a BJCP to evaluate and rank the brews… Maybe that would be a place get an expert opinion… Sneezles61


I entered a local festival comp once for the same reason. Just to get some feedback on my beers. They were supposed to have BJCP judges. I think tthey had one and a few apprentice judges as well. The judge only wrote on one of my 4 beers entered. The others were judged by apprentices or a guy named joe, not really but you get my drift. I got decent feedback from the BJCP judge. I wish he had tasted all my entries. The others had only partially filled in feedback forms and the comments wer pretty useless really. One said my irish stout needed more carbonation. I had bottled it from the tap and it was probably a little flat but really? That’s all you had to say. To be honest it was a kick ass dry stout and I got a low to mid 20s score IIRC. I’m no BJCP judge but I know my stouts. That’s the one and only comp I’ve entered.

Do you like your beers? Does your friends and family like your beers? Thats what matters really. I’ve had beers that won “awards” and haven’t been impressed. Awards impress non brewers


Does your LBHS or local home brew club have suggestions for regional competitions?

In the Twin Cities (MN) area, there are at least three regional competitions where the local home brew stores are “drop off” points for entries. I’ve always received good feedback from the BJCP judges in these events.

The only competition I enter is the MN State Fair homebrew comp. I’ve always gotten good comments back. My only complaint is that sometimes they pair up a certified judge with someone else, and the less experienced judge parrots back the same comments verbatim. There is a bit of groupthink going on there. It’s still good feedback, though.

MN State Fair is one of the events I enter & the written feedback has always been good. Hoppy Halloween (Fargo, late October this year, and MN Mashout (late Jan 2018? 2021 Minnesota Mashout) are the other events I enter (or participate in) and the feedback has been good.

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I would enter a state Fair comp around here they have country fairs but their dry. The comps center around livestock and agriculture. Actually I won honorable mention once for my wild apple whiskey jelly

Sorry to hear this. But what counts on the end. Like what brew cat says. Do your friends and fam. Like your beer. On the end that what counts.


Judges will be directed by a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) certified judge. BJCP judging forms will be used for all entries. Individual results can be obtained after the Celebration.

This was on the AHA website and was part of the announcement…I will wait until the end of the week to see if I get any feedback at all. After that I will complain and ask for a refund. Like I said in my OP I didn’t pay 20+ dollars so a bunch of guys could sit around and drink my beer I can do that in my garage. :relaxed:


That’s what I do. Private judging.


That said though alot of comps are fundraisers. If so you helped your community

If you really want the best feedback:

Find a friend who will give you honest feedback and not hold anything back. If they’re a certified judge, so much the better. I do this for my friends.


Enter AT LEAST 3 IF NOT 4 major BJCP-sanctioned competitions that have been around for longer than 1 or 2 years, review the comments, throw away the 50-60% scoresheets where the judges didn’t know what they were talking about, and review the remaining scoresheets for how good your beer really is and ideas for how to improve it.

Yes, I’m dead serious.


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And then, there’s these guys over on reddit who are excited about the great feedback they got.

@nianticcardplayer, i hope you get your money back. But dont give up over one bad event. There are lots of great people making great judging events happen.

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I can’t get my head around competition brewing. Is it too much ego, or too little, to need approval from an independent? I know I like my beers, and the wife does too; which is all I need. If I were interested in going semi-pro, then absolutely, I’d want to know how marketable my output is. I just see all the mechanitions people go through to see what’s the best category to enter. I have an 87 IBU pumpkin-peach brew, should I enter it in fruit, or IPA???

Even the concept that there is a BJCP has always seemed a bit odd to me. There’s no Chili Judge Certification Program, or BBQ, or Rhubarb Pie. Dont get me wrong, I think it’s great, and I respect the palettes of the certified judges. But I don’t give a rat’s hindquarters how well my beer fits technically into the Saison category; if I think it’s tasty that’s enough for me.

What would be nifty is if there were a program where a certified judge would just score and give feedback. Sort of like how you ship water off for analysis… Maybe more 1-on-1. Like Dave says he does for his friends…
But what I would really love is feedback on my process. Your efficiency would go up if you… This is why you get chill haze…


Most of the people I know participate (judge, steward, enter beers) in contests because it provides them with an additional source feedback to brew better AND because the event itself is rewarding (by providing a service that others are interested in).

I find that multiple sources work well for me. Homebrew clubs, competition feedback, online forums (AHA forums & reddit homebrew have been really good recently), books and magazines.

Apparently, the club that does the MN State Fair contest is hard up for judges… they are asking for volunteers to help out. I don’t want to subject entrants to my fickle tastes, otherwise I’d be one of those bad score sheets.

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