Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 NHC Entries

Despite being BJCP certified and the Competition Co-Chair for DC Homebrewers I've never been too enthusiastic about entering my own beers into competitions.  I only do it about once a year, most contests put too much focus on brewing to style, and not enough on innovation and creativity (which is what I'm really interested in).  That said, for the first time this year I decided to enter a few of my beers in the National Homebrew Competition.  I've taken a couple medals at the Spirit of Free Beer which draws entries mostly from the Mid-Atlantic, so I thought it was time to take on the rest of the country (although as a resident of DC in the first round of the NHC I'm only up against KY, MD, OH, VA, and WV).

I chose six beers to enter, including four sours since that is what I'm most proud of (there were only 160 entries spread over 10 regions last year).  The fact that the NHC only requires 1 bottle per entry made it easier to enter some of my favorite batches (as you can see I don't have many bottles in my cellar...).

Too Many Bottles?My entries:
1. My most recent batch of Berliner Weisse, which is tart and spritzy, but might be a bit too sour for the style, although that is what I thought about my first batch and it won me my one and only gold medal. 

2/3. The Wine Barrel Flanders Red, which I think is one of the best beers I've had a hand in brewing.  I also entered a bottle of the sour cherry aged version in the Belgian Specialty category. 

4. Weizenator, which I think will do well in the Weizenbock category despite my unconventional use of Extra Dark English Crystal for most of the color.

5. Wheat Triplebock, which took a silver a year ago at the SoFB as an Eisbock and has only gotten better.  It wasn't actually eis-concentrated, but it's too strong and dark to enter as a Doppelbock.

6. Just for fun I entered a bottle of Sour Squash, although I doubt it has enough butternut squash or spice character to do well in the Spice, Herb, or Vegetable category. 

I'm certainly not expecting to win the Ninkasi Award with beers that weren't brewed with the style guidelines in mind, I'm just hoping to have a beer or two sent on to the second round of the competition (last year just better than 1 in 7 beers advanced). 

I considered entering the terrific batch of IPA I brewed a couple months back, but the hop aroma is already starting to fade, and IPA is always one of the most competitive categories.  There were some other beers I considered entering, but at $9 an entry (even as an AHA member) plus shipping to Ohio, it didn't seem worth it.  On a side note, it is sort of weird that I have to ship my entries to Ohio when Philadelphia (6 hours closer) is one of the judging sites.

I guess it will be about a month before I get my scores back, hopefully FedEx gets the bottles to the competition unharmed and I get some judges who like sour beers. 

Anyone else entering this year?  Anyone have beers on the table with mine, East region in categories 5, 15, 16, 17, or 21?


  1. I entered an American Pale Ale and a Saison. They are both decent, but I don't think either are medal contenders. I enjoy getting some thoughtful feedback.

  2. Mike, I'm glad you posted on this. I wasn't really paying attention to the entry dates and it looks like tomorrow is my last day to send beers in if I'm going to do it! I have never entered NHC so I figure this might be my one year to do it, since I will should looking more towards GABF competition by next year, if things go as planned.

    Anyway, I have 4 beers that I think are good enough to maybe make it to the second round, and I don't really see a point in sending other ones: an American oak-aged barleywine, the black fresh hopped saision, a mild, and a Belgian Dark Strong.

  3. Oops, that should be: "since I should be looking more towards.."

  4. I'm entering a brett spiked english IPA aged on Americna Oak into the Specialty Wood Category(22), a fairly straight forward maibock into the bock category (5), and a tripel I brewed with agave into the Belgian Strong (18) category. I've never entered any of my beers into a competition. I doubt it will happen, but it would be a thrill if even one of them got through the first round.

    I got confirmation today (UPS) that they were recieved in Zainesville, OH.

  5. I am continually surprised that more clubs don't cover the cost of shipping to external comps. Pooling entries for shipping really cuts down on the costs.

    Also, my general comment about entering competitions is - you can't win if you don't enter. You never know what the judges are going to like - as long as your beer has no off flavours, and is entered in an appropriate category, you stand a decent chance.

    I think I'm entering 15 beers in the NHC.

  6. One of the clubs I belong to (BURP)does cover the cost of shipping, but I didn't make it to the drop-off meeting ($13 to UPS wasn't too bad anyway.) I'm happy having the beers in my posession as long as possible anyway.

    Sounds like some interesting entries, best of luck to everyone (and best of luck in the GABF Sean... and stop trying to make everyone jealous!)

  7. I entered a 2008 blueberry and blackberry melomel and last fall's dry English cider. The beer I have on hand currently is either too young (barleywine) or not good enough (pumpkin beer with WAY too much vanilla). Best of luck to all the contestants.

    Lug Wrench Brewing

  8. This is my first NHC (just barely missed it last year) and I feel like I'm going to do pretty good. Some of the beers I'm entering I've brewed multiple times intending on perfecting for competition and some are new and out there beers.

    1: Imperial IPA 14c (won many gold medals and even a BoS with this)
    2: Belgian Dark Strong 18E
    3: Belgian Golden Strong 18D
    4: Belgian Tripel 18C
    5: Belgian Blonde 18A
    6: Russian Breakfast Stout 21a - 13f with coffee and chocolate.

    Next up.. Sam Adams Longshot 2010!

  9. I've got a weird mix of beers going to Zanesville this year. A Flanders Red, a Sour Saison dry-hopped with Amarillo, an Oud Bruin, as well as a Doppelbock and Eisbock. And, for giggles, a rum-barrel porter.

  10. Mike,
    Entered a Robust Porter, American Amber, Russian Impy Stout, Belgian Strong Golden, Dortmunder Export and the Wine Barrel Flanders under Wood Aged. Not really expecting much from this batch of beers except for the Flanders.