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The Challenges Of Mixed Beer Competitions: The Integration Of Homebrewers And Professionals

Amanda Renaly
Amanda Renaly
Cover Image for The Challenges Of Mixed Beer Competitions: The Integration Of Homebrewers And Professionals

Photo by La fiebre del lúpulo via instagram from CGC.

Beer competitions provide a platform for brewers to showcase their finest creations, receive valuable feedback from experienced judges, and engage with members of the brewing community. These events foster sharing and aim to strengthen the brewing production community. However, one subject sparks intense debate among brewers: the participation of professional brewers in homebrewing competitions.

To bridge the gap between professional and homebrewers, many competitions organize distinct categories for each group. This approach aims to improve expertise within the community and also takes into consideration the distinctive characteristics of each category. The hypothesis is that when a competition is implemented in this manner, it could contribute to each category's producer receiving a fair judgment compared to their competitors. The Copa Guarani de Cervezas (CGC) exemplifies this approach by hosting its second edition in Asunción, Paraguay, scheduled for August. To contribute a pint to the discussion, we had the opportunity to interview Francisco "Chichito" Montanaro, the director of the CGC and president of AcervaPY, who shed some light on this matter.

BAP: What are the advantages and disadvantages of mixed competitions? What are the problems and main issues that participants may encounter?

Francisco Montanaro: Being an association that encompasses both homebrewers and commercial producers, we are committed to all members, regardless of their status or production size. For us, a homebrewer who brews beer in their kitchen at home or a producer with a monthly output of 30,000 liters have the same level of importance. Returning to the question, the advantages of the competition are that it attracts a larger number of entries, but this also poses a logistical challenge, and we need to be extremely well-prepared in all aspects. Without a good team behind us, everything becomes an uphill battle.

As for problems, things usually flow quite smoothly. Occasionally, some participants may get confused about which category to enter, such as a homebrewer entering the commercial category or vice versa. However, these issues are resolved directly with the individual, and they do not escalate into major concerns. We guide everyone to ensure fair competition for all.

BAP: From the organization's point of view, what are the biggest challenges in managing mixed competitions?

FM: From an organizational standpoint, we have to consider that they are two separate competitions happening at the same time. Therefore, from drafting the regulations, setting up the competitions in BAP, managing cold storage, and entries, everything must be brilliantly organized to avoid any confusion when it truly matters: the day ofjudging.

BAP: Are there significant differences in the productions of homebrewers and professionals that may influence or affect a competition?

FM: The overall skill level of homebrewers has significantly increased over time. I believe that homebrewers, with their smaller equipment and the freedom from commercial constraints, have the opportunity to be quite imaginative with their beers. The concoctions they come up with can be tremendously impressive!

BAP: The Copa Guarani is open for registration for both homebrewers and professionals. What are the main differences in the judges' approach to these two categories of producers?

FM: The judges who evaluate both the homebrewer and professional categories are the same. All judges are selected by a team focused on analyzing their strengths, profiles, previous experience, and even their potential, which we help develop and refine over time. A homebrewer may have the brilliant opportunity to be evaluated by globally renowned judges like Pete Slosberg. Similarly, a commercial producer may be judged by one of the best and most distinguished homebrewers in Latin America, Gonza Saavedra.

The Copa Guarani Cervezas is now open for registration for both homebrewers and professionals until August 4th. The event takes place from the 9th to the 12th of the same month in Asuncion, Paraguay. Registrations are made through our platform. To learn more, visit: CGC - Professional | CGC - Homebrewer.

You can also check out this video interview on our social media platforms by clicking here.

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