Reasons for Competition Rules

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The Planet Gong
Hi Guys,

'Just thought I'd put this out there for everyone to read, in response to a query from a local competition organiser in Victoria.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away.....there was this bloke called Mark Jones (hereinafter referred to as "MJ"). He was a member of the ABAV (which became the Melbourne Brewers) & was apparently a VERY good brewer.

His beers were all absolutely fantastic - rarely was one out of style & everyone raved about them & his skill as a brewer. However, he would never, EVER, reveal any of his recipes or techniques to others - never shared anything & would just sit firmly on his esky at club meetings & drink his own beer (he never tried anyone else's, just drank his own). All he would say is that he made very small batches. A bit strange, don't you think?

He entered his beers in competitions & won a swag of prizes - mainly (it was thought) because he was entering so many beers in a given category, that he was carpet-bombing them with numbers. He was raking-in the prizes hand over fist because he had so many entries in every category. Something had to change to make it fairer for everyone.

A few of us were invited to dinner at his place, but a cursory visit to his brewery told us that something was up, as he just wasn't geared-up to produce the quality he was entering in comps & didn't have a storehouse of grains that you'd expect of a dedicated & accomplished homebrewer who's passionate about it - again, something's on the nose here.....

In order to make it fairer for all (& reduce the load on the judges), it was decided to introduce the "Two entries per category, one entry per sub-category" rule for competitions. Vicbrew started it (after much discussion) & the affiliated clubs followed-suit with their own competitions. His response was to enter beers under his wife's name to boost his own entry numbers.........'sound familiar??

He was called-out for this practice, as it was considered poor etiquette & absolutely cracked-it. He resigned from the Club & went to join another, only to be met with the same disdain from their members. He tried to join another club & was rejected, as his reputation had preceded him within the community.

There was speculation that he was merely re-packaging commercial examples of great beers & passing them off as his own (there was just too much consistency & quality/perfection in what he entered in comps), but obviously, it couldn't be proven.

You'll notice that there are rules for entering Vicbrew & other affiliated competitions that restrict entry numbers & prohibit beers made by a commercial brewery. Within the Vicbrew Committee, these (& others) are collectively known as the "MJ" Rules. It was a long time ago, but even now, if you mention the guy's name at a Vicbrew meeting, you have to shout the table. His name & practices were/are considered synonymous with "cheating".

Others have tried to bypass the rules more recently & have also been named & shamed by the Community at large - I'm sure you know who I'm talking about........

With the advent of FWK's & Collaborative brews, we've tried to keep up with the changes & stay ahead of them & reckon we've got a handle on most of them, in order to reduce entry numbers & make things fairer for everyone concerned.

So, as I said in a previous post, there's RULES & then there's ETIQUETTE when entering a competition. The Vicbrew Committee has endeavoured to eliminate, as far as possible, the opportunity to exploit a loophole, but some will still try....

'Hope you understand where we're coming-from & (now you know the history), why there are certain rules in place.

These rules have been adopted by every State competition in the country, after discussion & agreement by all the State delegates to the National competition.

It's not to stop us having fun & enjoying the beers we all make, enjoy & share with our peers, just to stop a couple of unscrupulous bastards from sticking their fingers in up to the elbow when it comes to seeking kudos/accolades/prizes/medals/peer adulation etc....etc.....

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