Club of the Week: James River Homebrewers
Name: James River Homebrew Club (JRHC)
Location: Meetings are held at Mekong Restaurant. Mekong was recently voted one of CraftBeer.com's Great American Beer Bars.
Social Media: James River Homebrew Club on Facebook
Club Motto: The more we brew, the better we drink. 30 years of great beers!
Membership Dues: $20 annually
Who we are and how we got started/why we got started.
Club co-founders Dan Mouser and Mark Stansbury started homebrewing in the early 80s to quench their thirst for quality, craft beer, which was hard to come by commercially at the time. Dan and Mark were not the only homebrew enthusiasts in their area, and they decided to post some flyers for a get together of like-minded homebrewers. The first meeting attracted 13 people to Mark's house in February 1983, and a second meeting was planned.
As interest and attendance in these meetings grew, it was decided that a homebrew club was in order. Leadership and by-laws were established, membership dues implemented, a newsletter formed, and monthly meetings were planned, marking the beginning of JRHC. The rest is homebrew history!
We have all types of beer fans, from newbies who have brewed one batch to seasoned vets who have won national contests. The three main foci are beer/brewing education, brewing together and beer events/festivals/cruises.
Our meetings are packed with information about brewing techniques, different ingredients, systems, history and food pairings. We hold numerous club brews each year, including our infamous ClusterBrew. We also volunteer at local beer festivals, brewery events and community functions. We also host a Brews Cruise each year, which is a day-long bus trip to breweries, meaderies and vineyards in the local area.
Before each meeting, our members bring in homebrew for tasting. There are usually 60-100 different beers to taste. We open with a toast by the club president, have some announcements, and then present the 5-Minute Brewer. This is a very short presentation on a specific aspect of brewing, such as sanitation, water quality or a new gizmo.
The main program at our meeting lasts about 30 minutes. This year, we have had presentations on growing hops, brewing rig show and tell, a member's travelogue of his tour of Belgian abbeys and breweries, and stepping up from extract to all-grain brewing without needing a second mortgage.
After a 15-minute break, we have a fundraising raffle and close with a reminder to pay our tabs and tip our servers (well).
The Dominion Cup (A Pro-Am with Hardywood Park in 2012)
The ClusterBrew is an annual competition. The rules change every year, and the brewers must agree to bring the beer to our annual Christmas party in January. Judging is by popular vote, which means that bribery and plying with alcohol are acceptable means of promoting each entry. The winning team gets their names inscribed on the Ted Warren Memorial Mash Paddle, honoring a former member of our club who is now drinking beer in heaven, and of course bragging rights for the year.
The Brews Cruise
The Brews Cruise has featured trips to Dogfish Head in Milton, Del., Baltimore breweries and bars, Tidewater, Va., breweries and bars, North Carolina breweries and bars and Philadelphia. The motto of the Brews Cruise is, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.”