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I'm a relatively new brewer (couple of years) and I'm on the executive of our local brew club.

I was wondering if anyone had some great ideas for club meeting topics.

If you have already done a session on this topic perhaps you could include links to online resources etc...

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5 Answers 5

A few ideas:

  1. An episode of Basic Brewing Radio had a show a few weeks/months back about a club that did an Iron Chef style of competition. Pick an ingredient not normally used in brewing (the only one I remember is from the semi-finals was a package of iced oatmeal-raisin cookies). Have 2 contestants make a beer using it and then the club judges the better beer.
  2. Pick a "normal" ingredient, and brew up some sort of super example of that ingredient (hops seem to jump out for this one, but I guess a specialty grain or other adjunct could be used as well). Either do it as a club (if it's a small club) or as a competition (if the club is large).
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I am the informal president of the local brew club here.

First, decide among your members what you all want to get out of the club. We started out as a group of people that got together and made beer, then became sort of a social club. Everyone would bring beer and we'd just party. A few months ago we had a club discussion and decided to be more educational. Open it up to the members.

It is a little difficult to start. Like you I need fresh ideas for the club to do every month. Furthermore I need to find volunteers to participate.

Have something at every meeting

It does not matter how small they are (as long as most of them are engaging).

Style of the month

We feature a beer style every month. Encourage members to brew their own or bring commercial examples. That opens everyone up discuss the style. Last fall we had 7 or 8 Oktoberfests and did a very good tasting panel. It helps homebrewers to announce the style at least two months in advance.

Discussion Topics

Have something to talk about. This month we discuss aeration techniques. We had a water chemistry lesson, a brew-in-a-bag demo, and a how-to on making yeast starters in a ziploc bag. In the beginning it may be only things you are interested in, but other members will pick it up.

Do big things every once in a while

Every few months have a bigger club event. Brew-ins are usually successful - everyone brings their equipment somewhere and we make beer.

Our club got a wine barrel from a local winery and we had a club filling day where we put 55 gallons of RIS.

My previous had a yearly brewery tour by bus.

I think once you get going the ideas will come on their own.

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One thing that a club can do better than individual brewers is experiment. If several brewers use the same recipe but compare two techniques you can address some myths, legends or facts about homebrewing.

For example, you can get 4 brewers to make a beer with directly pitching one packet of dry yeast, then you can get 4 brewers to make the same recipe after rehydrating the yeast. Then you can dedicate a club night to tasting the beers and commenting. You generate a lot of data, get people brewing things differently. There are all sorts of experiments like that you could do. Chill or no chill, sparge or no sparge, FWHing, dryhopping with and with out bags, boiling with and with out bags....etc etc.

If your club has a website you can post the results and pics and get more recognition for your club too.

Chris Colby and the folks at BYO are always looking for people to do that type of stuff so they have new things to publish.

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My local club has a regular schedule of tasting commercial beers of a certain style one month, then brewing the style and judging the homebrews the next month.

Every once and a while the local brewery even agrees to make a commercial batch of the winning brew that month and serve it in their restaurant (assuming that the winner actually tastes good and isn't just the lesser of all evils). They even let the winners choose the beer's name and come to the brewery to help with the batch.

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Last year I did a dry hop experiment.

I took a simple extract kit (Brewhouse Pilsner) and fermented five gallons. I then split it into five one gallon jugs and added different hop varieties. I bottled, and marked carefully Our club tasted five different varieties of hops and we (even the newbies) were able to notice the differences in flavor that the different hops made.

Lessons Learned:

  • I didn't use hopsacks in the 1 gallon jugs, I should have, there was quite a lot of floaties.
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Interesting. Did you really get flavor from dry hopping? I would have thought mostly aroma. But aroma and flavor are so closely tied together that I can understand the perception of flavor when drinking it. –  brewchez Jun 3 '10 at 19:46
    
I should perhaps clarify, we did notice incredible differences between the beers, I believe we did notice flavor differences, but it could have been just aroma. –  Nathan Koop Jun 7 '10 at 15:11
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