Brew Biz: Werts and All

The Topic: Entering Competition

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

 I will not tell you which competition I entered. My object here is not to dis the club, or those who volunteer hours of time setting up web sites, or decide the rules. My object is to make you understand decisions have consequences.
  Recently I entered a competition that had been on hiatus for a while, then started up again. Looking through scheduled BJCP competitions I found one just right for what I wanted to enter. Since I brew “odd” I contacted the organizer and asked a few questions.
  Good to go!
  So I went to the web site to enter.
  Nice web site! Or so I thought, until started to click: links didn’t work: one which told me where to ship to, another how to prepare and ship the bottles and the registration form didn’t work for my set up at home; no printer. I knew we were getting close to a deadline that was mid-4th of July weekend, so I contacted the organizer.
  “Oh, I’m not surprised. We just started this competition up again.”
  We worked out what we had to: arranged for me to ship the bottles to one of the drop off stores, one entry so it would be clear this is what I entered, with a check and a retyped entry form, because theirs wouldn’t copy and paste.
  Oh, and $7. You see, the BJCP site said $5, but apparently for the first 2, or something like that, it was $7.
  No labels on bottles: I told the organizer there were contradictory instructions: one said absolutely nothing on the bottles, the other a link to bottles labels.
  Huh?
  Well, I figured they meant nothing but “our” labels, but again the organizer and I worked it out this way.
  I felt like i had just navigated a maze that was still being built and they forgot to put the exit in: I had to build my own exit. To be fair; this is a regional competition: by the nature of the name if nothing else, so maybe they weren’t expecting many way out of towners. But I was told us out of staters were welcome.
  Finally! Settled!
  Boy, was I wrong.
  My wife got a call from the drop off point, another competition official saying they couldn’t enter it because it had no labels, I had to fill the form out on line… yada, yada. My wife called: I’m on the road, and apparently he was insistent despite all of what I just typed. So she navigated the site as best she could: some of the links now working that weren’t before… and she had an office printer.
  I think… think… think it’s OK now.
  I understand: restarted competition, miscommunication… but here’s the problem…
  To enter the competition I spent: counting shipping but not to make the entry itself, about $30 and, if not entered, now what happens? Miller time for the folks at the other end? (No, I don’t brew Miller, YACK! It’s a SLOGAN folks. Besides: drink what I brewed like most drink Miller and you’d either fall asleep, get rowdy or start seeing pixies and unicorns… if you’re smoking something too.)
  I’m sure by next year, if I enter again, it will go more smoothly. But it seems to me we have a QC problem. Someone should be checking the functionality sites for competitions: several times, and every effort should be made to make it easy on those who enter… even if they totally botch entering. Perhaps a questions hot line, or someone who specializes in helping wayward brewers. Oh, and make sure everyone knows about the price structure: if they don’t you may get a lot of underpaid entries. Every effort should be made to work out snafus such as mine, for being too anal with those who enter means it’s less about the beer and the judging: more about you.
  In closing I want to thank the organizer. He did work with me… perhaps this could all have been solved with a call to him rather than making the brewer’s wife jump through hoops? I’ve seen several people do the organizing over the years and most folks who judge, steward, or enter, probably have no idea what they go through… like one year the hotel we were staying in insisting they bring out the entries from the fridge unit where they said we had to put them. That rule didn’t get applied: both parties were pissed, and we held it elsewhere the next year.
  Entering competition should not only be fool proof, but should have a way to work out those who manage to fool “fool proof.”
  Like this fool did.

                                         -30-

Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing and commenting on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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