|Labeled, rubber-banded and ready to be shipped.|
I've always harbored suspicions about the role of competition in a creative act. If you are using your creativity to make something, you're likely doing it because you're driven by some inner need to express yourself in that medium. Why should the influence of outside entities have relevance to a person who creates for the sake of just doing it? While I don't claim to be an artist by any stretch of the imagination, I like to think that I brew beer for me and those close to me, making beer that satisfies my palate and pushes my understanding of what beer should be like. Brewing definitely can be associated with creative people, and one can argue that creative people are artists to some extent.
In any case, entering a beer into a competition always seemed far from important to me. I always focused on the idea that there was some vanity in the act of submitting my beer for evaluation. What did I hope to gain? Validation? Recognition? Maybe I was just afraid that the feedback would be negative. My thoughts on the matter have changed somewhat recently. Feedback from someone with a discerning palate, whose connection to me is nonexistent could be the most valuable, constructive assessment of what I do. Sometimes you're blinded by your own absorbed involvement in something, and it takes someone with a fresh take and a penchant for honesty to reset your course. I guess that's what I'm hoping for by entering Low Country Pale Ale into the 2012 National Homebrew Competition. The recipe evolved based largely on a beer made by Jeff at Bikes, Beer & Adventures. Almost everyone that tasted it had kind words to share. Pretty soon it was almost gone. Then a few weeks ago, Lewy ordered a Blichmann Beer Gun and encouraged me to enter it in the NHC. I hesitated at first, but I realized that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I'm an idealist, but not to a fault (I hope) so why not expose what I do for better or worse? All of the entries were taken in San Diego so I entered in a different region with a drop off point in Illinois. Today I mailed a 12 ounce bottle away for critical consumption by a trained BJCP judge in the First Round of the NHC. I guess I'll soon find out if what I do in my garage deserves consideration by a wider audience. Either way, I'll always brew because I love to.