Podcast Episode #23 – Organizing a BJCP Homebrew Competition

Competition Bottles

Competition BottlesPlanning a BJCP Homebrew Competition

Get it BJCP sanctioned. It’s only $30 (as of July 22, 2014) to register and they give you all of the guidelines you need. Plus, it helps using recognized standards for everything. Register with BJCP right away. Don’t wait until the 90-day deadline or you won’t have enough time to get everything in place. http://bjcp.org/apps/comp_reg/comp_reg.php

Form a team to run the competition. There is a lot of work, especially the first year. Don’t go it alone.

As soon as you get your info packet from BJCP, start contacting judges.

  • This is a volunteer activity for them, so the sooner you get on their calendar, the less stress there will be for you. They will also be able to get your competition scheduled so they can plan around it.
  • Start with a slightly wider area than you think is necessary. Judges are dedicated and you may be surprised how far some are willing to judge to get BJCP points. Give them a way to get email updates as the date gets closer without pestering them.
  • This is one reason to get registered before the deadline. Things will happen to delay you contacting judges, so give yourself as much time as possible.
  • Send reminders as the competition approaches to stay fresh.

Publicizing

  • BJCP will publish your competition on their calendar and in the issues of BYO and Zymurgy leading up to the competition, but you still need to promote the competition on your own.
  • Local radio stations would probably love to talk to you about the competition. They are always looking for community interest notices.
  • Work with local homebrew shops as drop-off sites.
  • Work with local homebrew clubs to get them involved.
  • Talk about it any time there is a valid opportunity.
  • Prizes may help get more entries, but are not really necessary, especially if the entry fee is low.

Preparing For the Competition

  • Print out the judging/score sheets ahead of time. I had my printer go down, so I spent the hour before the competition running around to figure out how to get the sheets printed.
  • If possible, provide glassware for the judges. I can’t prove that the plastic glasses gave odd flavors, but they do have an aroma that can impact the judges perception.
  • Select your pallet-cleansing snacks ahead of time so you know what you’ll be using. Unsalted saltine crackers, oyster crackers and plain pretzels seem to be favorites. Avoid flavored versions, especially “butter lover” versions since those use diacetyl compounds to create the buttery goodness.
  • Make sure you have water and dump buckets available.
  • Bottle openers
  • Have the deadline for entries a few days before the actual competition. This will give you time to chill all entries so they are similar for judging.
  • Plan some sort of food for when the competition is  done.

Parting thoughts

The main reason people enter competitions is for feedback. Make sure you encourage the judges to give good, detailed feedback. Don’t just check the boxes, try to describe what you are tasting to the brewer.

Give yourself as much time as possible so you can do things in stages rather than cramming everything into a short time period.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. If possible, get other people involved in running the competition and helping as stewards, runners, etc.

Have fun! Remember, this is a hobby, and you should have a good time with this event. It’s a great opportunity to get to know new people and expand your pallet. Hosting a BJCP homebrew competition is a lot of fun!

Hold a practice judging session with leftover entries. This is especially useful for people practicing to be bjcp judges. You have a bjcp score, so why not use that as a training opportunity to see how your perceptions compare.

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