Making beer is the best part of homebrewing, no doubt about it. There’s something amazing about mixing malt, hops, water and yeast to create a beer that you can truly call your own.
But, believe it or not, there is something that comes with homebrewing that rivals the awesomeness that is handmade beer: community. You will never meet a more passionate and friendly than those who have immersed themselves in beer and homebrewing culture. It is truly the largest and most welcoming family you will ever be a part of!
The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is a membership-driven organization that promotes the hobby of homebrewing, and we have made it our mission to empower people to make high quality beer at home since 1978. Our community of more than 45,000 members spans every state in the U.S. and many more countries beyond. We are lucky to have many opportunities to interact in person with our members at events like the AHA National Homebrewers Conference, AHA Rallies and the National Homebrew Competition, but we also always encourage homebrewers to seek out their local homebrew club to stay connected to their neighborhood beer scene.
A Club of Beer Lovers
Homebrew clubs come in all shapes and sizes, with various mantras and mindsets. The best way to find a club near you is to search the American Homebrewers Association Homebrew Club Directory.
Some homebrew clubs have membership in the hundreds and hold monthly meetings, conduct their own homebrew competitions and host beer festivals, incorporating various aspects of beer education along the way. Other clubs might have just a handful of people, but no matter the size all clubs share the same spirit of exploring homebrewing and developing beer appreciation.
If you’re new to beer or homebrewing, don’t let the term “homebrew club” intimidate. Club members come from a variety of beer drinking and brewing backgrounds. Whether or not you actively make beer is not always a concern; a person passionate about understanding beer will gain a wealth of knowledge through a basic familiarity with the brewing process. No one knows beer better than homebrewers!
Educational components of homebrew club meetings often cover beer making techniques and processes, as well as explorations into beer evaluation, off-flavors, beer history, style guidelines and so much more that you can’t get without being part of a like-minded group of beer enthusiasts. Club gatherings expose your palate to a world of opportunity to taste and sample a variety of examples of styles.
Radegast Club of the Year Award
Homebrew clubs aren’t just about bringing together local homebrewers and beer drinkers. Many clubs leverage their fun and accepting culture to host events that benefit their greater community. You might be surprised by how many clubs team up with local charities to throw a benefit beer festival or competition where the proceeds go toward philanthropic endeavors. After all, who can turn down tasty homebrew when it’s helping a great cause?
The AHA wanted to recognize these clubs that are going above and beyond to make an impact in their communities, so we developed the Radegast Club of the Year award. Awards in the homebrewing world typically revolve around competitive homebrewing, but formally recognizing homebrew clubs that are directly impacting the well-being of their local communities was long past due.
Each year, homebrew clubs submit brief reports to the AHA explaining why they think they deserve the Radegast Club of the Year award. Clubs are asked to explain both how they encourage and promote the art of homebrewing and beer appreciation, as well as how the club has been involved in community outreach beyond beer.
Yakima Chief-YCH Hops has graciously sponsored the Radegast award since its inception in 2014, when the award was earned by the Carolina Brewmasters. A year later, the Maltose Falcons earned the 2015 Radegast Club of the Year award. Both of these clubs displayed outstanding examples of charity and community outreach that were truly inspiring and impactful.
The AHA hopes that the Radegast award will bring greater attention to the outstanding endeavors of clubs like the Carolina Brewmasters and Maltose Falcons, and other homebrew club like them—as well as inspire other homebrew clubs to expand their influence beyond the brew kettle to their local communities and even the world at large.
Homebrew clubs that are interested in pursuing the Radegast Club of the Year award in 2016 can find more details on the award and how to enter on HomebrewersAssociation.org.
*All photos courtesy of the American Homebrewers Association