Several months ago, Peter sent a survey around to those of us who had participated in Iron Brewer in the past to gauge responses for potential changes to the system. Based on the questions he asked, I surmised that there were three main areas for potential improvement with the system:
- Expand participation - Iron Brewer has grown in popularity since its inception. Consequently, under the current format, rounds fill up in a matter of minutes and leave many brewers out of the competition. However, if the current system remains the same, increasing the number of people per round also increases each participant's costs (see below). The other option would be to increase the number of rounds, which has logistical concerns.
- Cost of shipping - Under the current system, Iron Brewer participants ship two bottles of beer to each of the round's other participants and to the judges. In the round I participated in last year, that meant shipping eight packages of beer, which resulted in shipping costs around $100. These costs could be decreased by lowering the number of round participants, which is in contrast to Iron Brewer's increasing popularity, or to change how the program is structured. Potential changes could include sending samples into one location like a normal homebrewing competition or eliminating the group tasting activity.
- Increased prize distribution - Iron Brewer has some generous sponsors that provide prizes to be given out to the competition winners. Under the current system, those prizes are provided to the winner of the championship round only. Providing prizes to the winners of the normal rounds, while still keeping a substantial grand prize, would be more difficult, given the number of rounds.