News & Reference

This Year’s National Homebrew Competition

The All Grain Brewer   |   March 1, 2012
American Homebrewers Association's NHC - It's the world's largest international beer competition

The regional round for the National Homebrew Competition hosted by the American Homebrewer Association is just around the corner. I have already received an invite to judge in Indianapolis for that regional competition.

There are ten regional locations around the United States, and one location for Canada. Space is limited for each location to 750 bottle entries. Last year there were 6,996 entries submitted to the regional round. Therefore, you need to get your entries submitted early. The entries open February 28, 2012. Last year the AHA allowed a brewer to turn in their beers at any location (except for Canada). The same holds true for 2012. Last year, I shipped mine based on weather, so instead of shipping to Dallas, I shipped to New York. Homebrew in a UPS van in Dallas when the temperature is 90 F is a real bad combination for your beer. There is no doubt that if you can hand deliver to a location that your chances are much better for moving on to the finals.

The way the regional competition works is that the homebrewer only sends one bottle of each of their entries. Not two or three bottles like a lot of competitions require. That’s because there is no best of show for this competition like most other competitions have. There is no best of show because the top three beers in each category get to move on to the finals of the national homebrew competition.

Speaking of the finals of the national homebrew competition, it is located this year in Seattle. This event happens June 21, 2012, and coincides with the National Homebrew Conference. Unfortunately, the conference is already sold out for this year. You really have to sign-up early for the conference, as it is very popular and fills up fast. I was able to go to the national homebrew competition a couple of years ago in Cincinnati. It was a great time, and all homebrewers need to go when it comes to a town near you.

In Cincinnati, I was fortunate enough to judge the finals competition. It’s a little different experience because the traditional score sheets are not used. This helps dramatically with the speed of judging. The Finals Competition uses more of a check sheet, so you do not get much feedback. I think at the finals level most of the brewers have a good understanding of their beer, and probably do not need lots of feedback anyway.

If you win a medal at the national homebrew competition, then your name gets printed in the Zymurgy magazine. Even better, if you win a gold medal in your category, you get your photograph and the beer recipe in the magazine. This is a very proud moment for any brewer. Winning a medal at nationals also makes your homebrew club look good as well to the brewing community. If several people medal from your club then your club can try and compete for homebrew club of the year. Points from your first, second, or third place brews are awarded to your homebrew club. There are other ways to get points throughout the year like club-only competitions, but the real points come from the national competition. I believe my homebrew club has made it as high as number 8 in the nation within the last couple of years.

In summary, enter early and often for the national homebrew competition. You might just get you picture in Zymurgy, and the world can see that you’re an accomplished brewer.

Here is the link to the competition website:

The All Grain Brewer has Spoken

Contributed by The All Grain Brewer
I was thinking: grain, hops, water,'s just not that easy, but it sure is fun!