Club of the Week: Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG)
Name: Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG)
Membership: 75 active members
Location: Monthly meetings are currently held at Rock Bottom Brewery in Warrenville, Ill. In February 2011, the club moved from longstanding host, John’s Restaurant in Winfield due to outgrowing the space. Monthly tech sessions are now being held on a separate night at John’s Restaurant.
Mailing Address: 229 E Union Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187
Website/Social Media: Knaves.org
Membership Dues: $12 per year or $1 per month when joining after January
Who we are and how we got started and why:
The Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG) is a homebrew club that was started by a few guys who wanted to get together regularly with other people who were brewing their own beer. UKG started meeting in members’ basements, then moved between commercial establishments until a welcome home was found at John’s Restaurant (then John’s Buffet). Early on, the group was registered as a not-for-profit entity and by-laws were written. Camaraderie and sharing of home-brewed beers and ideas were the focus of the club. Due to the wealth of knowledge and expertise held by some members within the Chicago-land area, the club's focus expanded to include the teaching and learning of all things beer (mead and cider, too).
Our club vibe:
The UKG is a good mix of younger and more-worldly men and women from all over the western and far western suburbs of Chicago. We boast a blend of blue and white-collar members and a number of PhD types. Our members range from having a few extract batches under their belt to multi-award-winning brewers, including two Longshot winners, Midwest Homebrewer(s) of the year and a Ninkasi winner. Among our ranks are a number of BJCP certified beer judges including a Grand Master. Many of our club members could also be considered foodies, cooking and pairing with beer/mead/cider. The common thread among them all is the love of beer and the desire to brew and share their products and expertise with others.
Since mid-April, the club has been meeting twice a month for two separate purposes. A general meeting where announcements for upcoming events and accolades for past accomplishments is held, followed by mingling and sampling of homebrewed beers/meads/ciders for the masses. The second meeting of the month is a technical session that is attended by a smaller, changing group of members depending on the topic. Topics covered at these sessions include beer styles, brewing techniques, meads and honey, guided practice for beer judging, food and beer pairings, and sharing of foods prepared with beer. Members and guests from around the area with expertise on the topic are used as resources for teaching and learning.
The UKG hosts one major competition, The Drunk Monk Challenge, each year for the past 14 years. The competition is one of the largest in the Midwest/country, judging over 750 entries for the past two years. Entries and judges come from all over the Midwest to be a part of this event. In addition, the club participates in the AHA’s Club-Only Competitions held every couple of months. Also, the club members choose a beer style to learn more about and brew a couple times a year. These brews compete against each other for bragging rights to that style.
Once a year we do a train crawl. As a suburban club, we establish a safe route either along a train line in and out of Chicago or one that includes getting around to various breweries and craft beer bars in Chicago. This has recently become a pet project for Rodney Kibzey, who has won two Sam Adam's Long Shot competitions.
• Monthly social nights held at area beer bars and brew pubs
• UKG picnic in the fall
• Participate in Big Brew Day and other club brews
• UKG holiday party