Home brew competitions are held at many different levels. Most home brew clubs hold an annual home brew comp. CBM hosts the US Open in May in Charlotte, and our sister clubs throughout the Carolinas hold their competitions from March through December.
Home brewers submit entries (usually two brown bottles), all the entries (often 300 to 500) get grouped by style, and on competition day, judges and stewards travel to that city to judge the beers. Each entry is sampled and will receive a score sheet completed by at least two judges, and sometimes three. Competitions are an excellent way to get feedback on a brew so that the next batch may be improved. Stewarding and Judging at competitions are outstanding ways to learn from more experienced brewers/judges about the styles and especially what differentiates a great home brew from a mediocre one. See How to Enter a Competition.
The Carolina Brewer of the Year is determined by a cumulative roll-up of the results from all six of the major competitions held in NC and SC each calendar year.
(CBoY comps in bold.)
CBM also enters each AHA Club-Only Competition which occurs four to six times per year and each competition focuses on a single style category such as stouts, Scottish, or mead, for example.
CBM will announce these events and members enter by bringing one bottle to the appropriate club meeting. Experienced judges pick the best entrant to represent CBM at the national level. CBM also pays the entrance fee and the shipping of the two bottles to the designated judging site for the national Club-Only event. Winners' names are published in Zymurgy.
The AHA's National Homebrew Competition is the big one. All styles, all regions of the country, culminating with final awards given at the national conference in June. Regional first-rounds are held in April, and winners submit two bottles to the national level much like the AHA Club-Only comps. AHA members receive a discount on entry fees and winners' names are published in Zymurgy.