I started brewing exactly a year ago. I remember because when I told SWMBO that I want to brew she swore me to wait a month and be sure, so I bought my kit the first week in June.
My first beer was an Amber Ale Extract Kit. And a stale one, at that. My second was All Grain. I hadn't really planned on going all grain right away, it's just that I couldn't get enough extract at the little shop I was buying from up north. I didn't have a MLT, so I brewed BIAB in a bag made out of the wrong material and got 58% efficiency.
But I got better. I got better equipment, and learned better process, and payed better attention to details. And slowly, slowly, my beers got better. I went from really shitty beers, to shitty beers, to mediocre beers. They are still not at the level of "good beers", but I feel I can definitely call them "Drinkable" now.
Given how I feel about my beers, it was with great reservations that I decided to enter in this year's Longshot competition. I don't think they're good enough. I know for a fact that there are much better entries in the categories I've entered. And I'm certain that they will not win. Basically, it's a waste of time and money.
But I entered anyway. Because I want the feedback. I want someone who doesn't know me to taste my beers and give me an honest evaluation. That's the thought that guided my beer selection as well: I didn't enter what I consider my "best beer". I entered beers that I want to improve on, and that I would some critique of. I entered beers that I taste something in, and that I wanted to know if other people taste it too, or am I just hallucinating.
I also entered for the camaraderie. Because a home brewer is an individual, but he's also a part of a community. There are many, many excellent brewers in this country, and many of those will be at the competition, pouring their own beers. To stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these people is an honor and a statement of intent. I am a home brewer. I make the best beer I can. I will continue to improve so that one day, my best will truly be best.
See you all at the marina. :)