How do I join?
Show up at any of the monthly membership meetings. For the location details just contact someone listed on the “Contact Us” link or find us on Facebook & IM for location. Membership is open to anyone interested in great beer that is of legal drinking age. You do not have to be a home brewer to join! Dues are $20 for an individual membership and $25 for a couple’s membership (i.e. spouses and significant others are welcome). The club also offers a special “Industry membership” for employees / owners of professional breweries and or their spouses and significant others. Dues for industry membership are $12.50 per person with a required minimum of four members.
What is the format of the meeting? Do I have to prepare?
• Our current format consists of one meeting a month, most always on a Saturday. (we usually try to work around holidays).
• Our meetings are based around four, club members only, style specific, competitions held every third month (March, June, September, and December).
• The first month is devoted to a presentation on the history and brewing techniques associated with the upcoming competition style. After the presentation, members are welcome to taste commercially available samples of the style and are encouraged to share comments to help sharpen their judging skills. As always, members and guests are encouraged to share any home brew they may have for informal analysis by the group and, most importantly, for the simple joy of it. Commercial beers are always welcome.
• The second month may include more detailed discussion of brewing techniques, comparison of various interpretations of a particular homebrewing style, or it may be just a good time to get together. Usually, our gatherings are devoted to the sampling, discussion, and suggestions for improving everyone’s home brewed beers. The food is always an added bonus.
• The third month is our competition. Members’ brews are judged by the club using the BJCP format. The scores are averaged, and the winners are declared. Those that place first, second, and third receive a trophy for their efforts.
• The brewer with the highest total score for all of the competitions held during the year is declared our Brewer of the Year (BOTY). The club will generally offer a T-shirt as a prize for this prestigious accomplishment. The BOTY also gets their name on a plaque and gets to display it at their home for the next year.
• We also take care of club business at meetings and try to keep it as brief as possible.
• To get an idea of what goes on in greater detail please visit our President’s Notes page
Which of my homebrews should I bring, and how much?
When we are tasting each homebrewed style, 2-12oz bottles are usually sufficient. Bring them in a cooler and already cold. If you don’t have the style that we are evaluating, bring what you have. If people bring something other than the style we are tasting, we usually have a “Brewer’s Choice” tasting at the end, so that people can get other people’s opinion about what they have. We’ve had meads, cysers, and wines presented at this Brewer’s Choice section so far.
Don’t be intimidated by the tasting process; it is actually much less formal than it sounds on paper. We just decided that we wanted other people’s feedback on our beers, not just to sit around and drink beer. None of us are certified beer judges (yet), so we are mostly relying on our own beer tasting and brewing experiences and the commercial examples to help form our opinions. Also, the floor will be open after the ranking for people to ask specific questions (“My beer was the third from the last, I tasted something “off” with it. Does anyone know what it is?”) to try to get tips, etc.
I’m not sure I’m ready to have my homebrew judged – should I wait until I learn more?
All of us are at that stage. None of us have had our beers formally tasted (OK, maybe a few of us have entered a competition or two), so we are as insecure with our beers as anyone. We just use this as an opportunity to taste what other people are doing, and most of us have come away confident that our beers are as good as each others. And finally, we have people at all ranges of experience from “just bought my first equipment kit newbies, to years of all-grain” and we have people who try to brew to traditional styles and those who just make beer that they like.
Also, we try not to be critical (some tasters succeed at this better than others), so we try to help people whose brews might not have ranked well by highlighting the product of others who did better. We try to get comments going like, “I was disappointed with the lack of clove character in my wheat, but yours had a lot (and you got 1st place), what type of yeast did you use?”.