Your Local Home Brew Club

The other week, I had the pleasure (and honour) of attending my home brew club’s annual general meeting. I’m a member of the Brisbane Amateur Beer Brewers (BABBs). It has a membership of about 65 members from all walks of life and of all standards. There is even one brewer who is a coeliac, so he can’t taste any of the beers there and brings his own beers, made from sorghum and rice syrup!

What struck me at the time was the calibre of the brewers that attended that meeting. The AGM is a time when awards are handed out for the best brewers in the club. This is not just a few friends voting on each other. It’s a properly organised judging with guest judges and stewards to make sure the process is fair and, more importantly, accurate and professional. In the awards, there were several beers of gold medal standard and plenty of silver and bronze.

Some of those members are not only award winners, but have won various competitions across Brisbane to have their beers brewed commercially to go across the bar at venues such as Scratch and Archive – no mean feat for amateur brewers.

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The reason why I thought it was worth writing about the night was a reflection about how much this club and the others across Brisbane and Ipswich have influenced the brewing community locally. Many of the all grain brewers in Brisbane have developed their skills thanks to these clubs. A principle activity of these clubs is their mash paddle competitions – a regular in-house brewing competition. Each competition is for a different style and the beers brewed by the members go through a blind judging by their peers. Each beer receives a ranking against BJCP (Beer Judge Certificate Program) guidelines and feedback is provided. So, not only are you receiving regular feedback on your brewing, and attending technical presentations, you get to rub shoulders every month with those who have gone before and experienced all the problems you will encounter. What a great way to learn to brew better. Throw in the odd bus trip to a local brewery, attending the National Homebrewing Conference, and assisting at state beer judging, and you can’t help but improve your brewing.

So whatever standard your brewing is at, whether it be kit and kilo, extract, or all grain, think about visiting your local home brew club. They will welcome you with open arms and you’ll meet plenty of people with the same brewing passion as you, learn a heap and enjoy a lot of really good beer in a convivial atmosphere. The only downside is the drive home, so make sure you choose a local club!

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