Research for the 2021 National Homebrew Competition

One of the many fallouts of 2020 was the cancellation of the 2020 National Homebrew Competition (NHC). It was particularly unfortunate since last year would have marked my first entry since 2015 (when I took home a first round bronze medal) as well as my father’s first-ever entry.

While the 2021 NHC is a go, there are several changes, the largest of which is the elimination of all 13 first round judging centers in lieu of a single-site judging center in Denver, Colorado.

In addition, several new categories have emerged to address growing entry count and/or uniqueness of category; Specialty IPA and New England IPA are now split, British Stout and Irish Stout are now distinct categories, Pale Malty European Beer and Pale Bitter European Beer are now distinct categories, and Spiced Beer and Seasonal Beer are now split. In total, there will be 40 categories for the 2021 NHC.

When determining which categories to enter for 2021, I calculated the odds of winning based on previous NHC entry data. Using the NHC Winners page, I tabulated the combined number of entries by category and graphed the data below. Since the current Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines were implemented during the 2018 NHC, there was only entry data available for two years.

Regardless, I graphed the data from highest number of entries to lowest number of entries, which is inversely proportional to the odds of winning. In other words, Smoke-Flavored & Wood Aged Beer ranked first in total entries (905) and therefore has the lowest odds of medaling (6 / 905) = 0.66% while Specialty Beer ranked last in total entries (396) and has the highest odds of medaling (6 / 396) = 1.52%.

While the results did not influence my entry categories for 2021 (American IPA & New England IPA), maybe they will influence yours. Good luck!

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