Our club has rudimentary (and out-dated) bylaws, but we never incorporated. The only reason we have a federal Tax ID number is because we needed it to open a checking account. Sheesh, we even have a PayPal account linked to it.
Nothing I'm aware of in the law requires us to incorporate. We don't ever report squat to either the state or the feds. In Maryland, we are an unincorporated association. In 18 years, we have seen no reason to either incorporate or get liability insurance, except to spend time, money, and frayed nerves on things that are the exact opposite of fun. We have somewhere around 80 members, and I promise that not one of them wants to spend even a minute filling out tax/information returns to the state or to the feds, or keeping the records necessary to do that. We almost did it a year or so ago because one of us
thought it might be cool to get organizational license plates with our logo from the state, but the feeling passed at seeing the daunting paperwork.
We do many things as a club, but
all of our alcohol-related events are at members' homes. At least in Maryland, there is no host liability for alcohol-related incidents if someone leaves an event impaired and causes damage or injury. That's not to say we are cavalier about that, because we're not and we very much look out for each other. But it just is not a matter of either individual or club liability to us.
We do public brewing demonstrations and run a competition at an annual beer festival. We're not serving or giving away homebrew to the public, just making it. We're there at the invitation/request of the event host and property owner. They have insurance for the event which will respond if someone gets scalded by boiling wort. But if someone among us acts negligently or recklessly and causes harm and gets sued personally, I supposed it's conceivable that it's their homeowner policy's baby as well as the event host's. We're just not worried about it. Someone could probably make an argument to make me reconsider these positions, but at least for now, I've said my piece and counted to three.
We like spending our scarce club resources on fun stuff like food for club events, subsidizing the cost of club t-shirts and tasting mugs, paying members' costs for taking the local BJCP exam prep course, paying for a communal brewing and dining site at BrewCamp, paying for our web domain, and of course, hauling the best beers to be tasted in the whole room at Club Night next year in Philly.
[The lawyer in me reminds me to say that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel in your own state, for your own unique circumstances. Everyone has to find their own comfort level with this issue in order to be able to sleep at night. We've found ours.]