If there is a penultimate homebrew club myth, it is that you must know how to homebrew in order to join one. That's sort of like saying you can only join a cooking club if you know how to cook (and yes, it's perfectly acceptable -- encouraged -- to bring professional brews to a homebrew club like the Eagle Rock
growler above). Part of the point, at least of many homebrew clubs, is for experienced brewers to teach the new hopheads like us how to fill our carboys. And there are so many different types of homebrew clubs out there, from the big boys in town like Pacific Gravity
and the Maltose Falcons
to the small clubs like the Yeastside Homebrewers
, you've got plenty of choices. Each has a very different vibe, so it's wise to sample around town.
If you're still grumbling and saying you have no room for all that homebrew equipment, well, that's what friends with garages are for, right? There's also another little secret that homebrew clubs don't want you to know (or maybe they do): You don't have to even want to learn to homebrew to join, you simply need to appreciate (drinking) homebrewed beer. Here are our Top Five Reasons to Join a Homebrew Club.
5. Club Meetings
(Read: An excuse to drink beer). What goes on at a club meeting varies greatly at different clubs. In part, that's because some homebrew clubs have gotten so large that meetings by necessity become about electing officers and planning parties (see #3, Parties) rather than about actually brewing, which is a time-consuming process and difficult to demo for a large group. That's exactly why some smaller homebrew clubs, like Yeastside, broke off on their own -- so members could actually hang out and make beer together (Many Yeastside members are also still members of larger clubs like Pacific Gravity, which is completely kosher; see #3, Parties).
Those meeting brewing sessions are meant to be a learning experience, sort of like the science class you always wished you could get credit for in college. For example, this weekend Yeastside will be brewing up a batch of amber ale so members who are interested in making the leap from extracts to all-grain brewing can see how it works. And yes, members also bring their finished brews to share, so there is plenty of
4. Road Trips
drinking tasting going on during that Saturday science lesson.
(Read: An excuse to drink beer). Bigger clubs tend to have enough money from member dues to organize events like road trips. San Diego is typically regularly on most L.A. clubs' rosters, either for San Diego Beer Week
or events like the San Diego International Beer Festival
at the county fair, or sometimes just to hit breweries like The Lost Abbey
(photo above) on a San Diego roundup tour. Or, you could find yourself on a party bus to San Francisco, as Pacific Gravity members will be doing President's Day weekend. The club is chartering a bus to go up to Anchor Brewing in San Francisco (members only, $85
) to attend a private party to celebrate their win of the 2011 CA Homebrew Club of the Year Award (More excuses to drink beer.... see how this works?).
(Read: An excuse to drink beer). The bigger clubs around town host fantastic BYOB parties for their members. Such good parties (that BYOB turns into an outdoor taproom with hundreds of homebrews), that many people (guilty as charged) who don't homebrew join the clubs simply for the parties. It's no coincidence that Pacific Gravity sends out its annual party invitation
with membership renewal information. And with membership at all of $30 annually (the party is free), it's one of the best all-you-can-drink beer deals in town.