What happens at a homebrew club meeting? It depends on which one you go to. The Yeastside guys (and a few gals) like to brew a beer to demonstrate a specific style when possible, say a black IPA, peppered with seminars (how to detect off flavors in your beer) and like this weekend, the occasional brewery field trip. This isn't the sort of homebrew club where meeting minutes are recorded and twelve vice presidents are appointed. Here, the topics flow as freely as the homebrews. Lively discussions on Saturday included a small, apartment-friendly homebrew system that was described as "like a breast pump," the recent Trivial Pursuit night at Eagle Rock Brewery, and camping tips for the upcoming California Homebrewers Festival in April.As the club is still very small -- they plan to keep it that way - they can actually hit breweries for tours without renting a bus. Saturday's meeting was held at Nibble Bit Tabby, with brewer Brian Lethcoe leading a tour followed by a tasting of member home brews. (Sorry, but yes, you need to brew beer or at least express an interest to come to the tastings.).
As to be expected, the flavor profiles of various beers are discussed extensively at homebrew club meetings, though listen judiciously and you'll notice a distinct club etiquette. Criticism of a specific commercial beer, say a Grand Cru that will remain nameless (a high alcohol, often very sweet Belgian strong ale) is fair game. Mystified Yeastside founding member Lee Bakofsky described that beer as "too sweet, I don't get it. People drink that stuff like they're a hummingbird." But outright criticisms of member beers are to be approached cautiously - only the brewer him or herself can fess up that they don't think their brew is up to par: "This wasn't quite ready for today's meeting, it needed another few days, but I brought it anyway," said one member as he poured his brew (it was great).
That name change? As Christina Perozzi, one of the few female homebrewers at the meeting, pointed out, "Guys, c'mon, Eastside was so much better. No woman wants to hear the word yeast!" Well, she does have a point.