CONDUCTING VIRTUAL HOMEBREW CONTESTS – OVERVIEW
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, homebrew competitions have widely been cancelled or postponed. Because competitions have traditionally required close proximity for judges and volunteers, they have not found a safe way to be able to evaluate and provide feedback for homebrew entries.
Venues formerly used to conduct these competitions have been shut down. Even when they re-open, many may be unwilling to take on the risk of having a large number of people in their facilities in close proximity for the purposes of homebrew competitions.
But people are still home brewing – probably even more so since it’s a hobby that can be done in isolation, and brewers have had more time to brew while their jobs have been put on hold. There is still a desire for homebrewers to receive unbiased feedback for their efforts, and there will always be the desire to compete and WIN!
There exists then a need to come up with a way to conduct homebrew competitions in a “safe” fashion, with limited exposure to COVID-19.
The Minnesota Home Brewers Association (MHBA) plans to develop and test guidelines for conducting “virtual” homebrew competitions, maintaining high quality, unbiased evaluations of home brewed samples, rapid return of results to entrants, and even providing new opportunities for FUN for the organizers, judges, and volunteers.
• We will conduct telephone, email, and text interviews with those contests that have conducted their competitions since the COVID lockdown, with specific interest given to those that have done so utilizing Social Distancing guidelines.
• We will investigate methods for how competition committees may meet and get contest work done without having to be physically in the same space. It is likely that these methods will include Skype, Google Meetup, Zoom, Facebook Messenger Rooms, Conference calls, etc.
• We will investigate methods for collecting entries, and for how to sort and categorize bottles in a “Socially Distanced”, safe, manner. A large element of this discussion will be what will be the minimum number of bottles required for a “virtually judged” competition.
• We will discuss methods for how entries can be picked up by, or delivered to judge teams, and how mini-BOS and BOS sessions can be conducted remotely.
• We will test whether the above-mentioned “virtual” meeting methods can be used to do actual judging, with judge teams being in multiple distant locations.
• We will explore how score sheets may be digitized, collected, and distributed to entrants with a minimum amount of handling by competition staff.
• We will develop ways to make virtual homebrew competitions interactive with remote entrants, judges, and volunteers.
• We will develop recommendations for how to conduct virtual awards ceremonies, with maximum participation by entrants, judges, and volunteers.
• We will explore how medals and prizes may be employed in a virtual competition.