(Boulder, CO) – Earlier this month, hundreds of breweries “raced to enter” this year’s Great American Beer Festival, knowing there were a limited number of spots. The result was over 600 gaining entry but over 300 being added to a waitlist.

On Wednesday night, Brewers Association Event Director, Nancy Johnson, informed members through the Brewers Association Forum of changes coming to the 2014 Great American Beer Festival signup process…at least as it pertains to breweries. Johnson’s post also details how the Association worked to address the immediate problem of the 2013 waitlist.

Below is the post, unedited, and re-published here with explicit permission from The Brewers Association.

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Great American Beer Festival brewery confirmations will mail this week. With competition capacity filling so quickly this year, we’ve heard from many of you and have discussed ways to improve the registration process next year. Here is a snapshot of where we stand for 2013 and an overview of how we plan to handle registration for GABF 2014.

Actions taken this year to address the issue include:

2013 Competition: Our 2013 annual plan called for a 7% increase in competition beers being judged. After registration closed and in recognition of the higher-than-ever demand, we moved quickly to find a way to increase the number of beers (and judges) in the 2013 competition by 200. As a result, 4,875 beers will be judged in 2013, which represents 12% more beers being judged in the competition than in 2012, and five percent more than originally planned for in 2013.

2013 Festival Hall Booth Space: Once capacity for the competition filled, eligible breweries on the wait list were offered a festival booth space. As of July 30, 616 breweries will pour 3,087 beers in the hall. That’s 11% more beers than in 2012, and note that this number does not include guild or special event beers.

2014 GABF Brewery Registration Process

The Brewers Association takes very seriously the “race to enter” registration issue that has resulted from a rapidly growing number of breweries along with increasing interest in the competition and festival. Since registration closed this year, we have been working to address this issue by devising a plan for 2014 that aims to eliminate the “race to enter” problem for future GABFs.

Based on this work, the BA plans to introduce a different entry method next year. This “all comers” style brewery registration process will achieve a few important goals:

*Eliminate the race to enter before all slots fill up

*Increase the number of breweries that can enter the competition

*Increase the number of beer entries

The 2014 GABF brewery will remain open for set number of days, and all interested breweries may enter the competition. The number of beer entries allowed per brewery will be based on doing the math of the number of breweries that registered during the sign-up period and the pre-determined capacity of beers that we can successfully judge that year.

Here is an example to illustrate:

*Total number of beers that can be judged = 5,000

*The registration period lasts (is open) for two weeks; no clambering to enter during one short time window

*Total number of eligible breweries that apply = 1,000

*5,000 beers / 1000 breweries = 5 entries per brewery

*Thus in this scenario, the competition would accept the first 5 entries from every brewery that entered

*Let’s say 2,500 breweries entered instead of 1,000: in that case, every brewery could enter 2 beers in the competition. The math would work like that for whatever number of breweries entered (Max. capacity of beers that can be judged – divided by – number of breweries entering the competition)

*Festival booth space would be handled separately

As you can imagine, many important details remain to be worked out, but we believe this 2014 GABF brewery registration plan represents a solid start toward an increasingly fair and accommodating competition for the future.

Thanks so much for your continued support.

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Thanks.

so if set number of total beers are less than the number of breweries how does that work?

Are you saying there might be a chance of 500 beers entered by 1,000 breweries or something else? Because that would never happen.

yea Adam,

say down the road they limited the numbers of beers to 1000 and the numbers breweries entering are 2500 (these numbers are large but it is a theoretical question) since the math would be less than a beer each. Just trying to figure out how that situation would pan out or are they waiting for the to happen possibly one day.

Ah. Well, they’ve set the limit at 4,875 for 2013 and it has been above 4,000 in recent years so that scenario is at least several years out (until we get to say, 5,000 breweries that want to enter the competition).

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In their hypothetical, each brewery of the 1000 will submit 5 beers. So if 100 of the 1000 are tiny breweries who want to enter only 1 beer each, would that 5 per brewery still hold? Is there a way to allow more entries per brewery if the 5000 limit is not reached?