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General Category => Homebrew Clubs => Topic started by: Kaiser on December 21, 2010, 03:43:39 PM

Title: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Kaiser on December 21, 2010, 03:43:39 PM
How do you guys do it?

Our club, Brew Free or Die, is looking to add more educational activities to our club life. The two options that are currently debated are having a short presentation at club meeting or having a dedicated meeting for brewer education.

The first option doesn't give much time for educational topics since most of the meeting is for socializing and not everybody is interested in the educational part. The 2nd option is seen as running the risk of splitting the club since members may only attend one and not the other.

Kai
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: denny on December 21, 2010, 04:35:02 PM
I'm the Tech Tsar for our club and we do it both ways, but usually at our regular meeting.  The regular monthly meeting is where we exchange info on events and other things.  The socializing happens after that part of the meeting.  It can range from a presentation by me or another member to an open discussion of a topic to a "Tech Triva" thing with prizes.  We also have a fair number of "meetings" that are strictly parties, so it's not a big deal to have the regular monthly meeting devoted to info and technical stuff.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: tumarkin on December 21, 2010, 04:43:57 PM
We try to have a presentation at every meeting. Doesn't always work - have to have willing volunteers. Our presentations vary from style (what makes it unique, brewing/recipe considerations, tasting of examples), technical presentations on variety of brewing issues, regional presentations (when members travel somewhere & bring back examples to share), etc. We try to have beer to the lips as part of presentations as much as possible. We're lucky enough to have a treasury that will support paying for beer for presentations.

As you mention, socializing & presentations don't mix well. But we manage as best we can. Occasionally we'll have separate presentations at another time/place.... usually as part of a BJCP study group. We feel strongly that education is an important part of our mission as a club. It's not always easy, but it is worth the effort & seems to be appreciated by a majority of our members (though not by everyone).
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: johnf on December 21, 2010, 04:52:32 PM
I've been thinking about this a lot as well as I face the fact that most of the people in my club are only interested in the social side.

I can think of a few cities where homebrewing is big that have basically ended up over the years with a serious club and a social club or two, maybe it happened the way you are saying. If you push too hard the people who don't want the serious stuff will just leave. Maybe that is okay but having only been in my club (which is a very old one) a short time I don't feel it is my place to set the tone.

I've thought about a BJCP judge type group in my town as these tend to be the people who are more serious and the BJCP members are split among the local clubs with some not being active in any club. I wouldn't limit it to BJCP members but more target that as the initial membership and try to keep to focus limited so it doesn't appear that we are trying to be a new full service club (no parties, no entering competitions under that groups name, etc).
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Janis on December 21, 2010, 04:56:58 PM
Hi Kai,

My club (Hop Barley & the Alers) has it built into the meeting agenda.  First we socialize while the dinner group is setting everything up.  Then as we eat dinner, the President makes the announcements.  Next, our VP gives a presentation of the style of the month.  We split into our color groups to discuss responsibilities for the next meeting, and finally we have a speaker from the local area. The speaker is usually arranged by the President, and they speak on lots of technical topics. Our meetings are 7 to ~10 p.m. on the 4th Tuesday of the month. http://www.hopbarley.org/ (http://www.hopbarley.org/)

Good luck!

Cheers,
    Janis
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: denny on December 21, 2010, 05:31:56 PM
Janis, how big is your club?
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Kaiser on December 21, 2010, 05:42:20 PM
janis' club is way more organized than ours when it comes to meetings. In our club the club meeting is about the only time when brewers meet each other. We are also fairly far spread out with travel times ranging from 15 to 60 min.

Kai
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Janis on December 21, 2010, 06:21:12 PM
Janis, how big is your club?

Hi Denny,
My club has 50 to 60 members, of which 20 to 40 come to any given meeting.
Cheers,
   Janis
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: denny on December 21, 2010, 06:26:48 PM
Thanks, Janis.   I was just picturing trying to do dinner for our club!  We've had an explosion of members the last few years and our tech meetings are now over 60 in average attendance.  Parties are too big to even guess!
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Janis on December 21, 2010, 06:32:19 PM
janis' club is way more organized than ours when it comes to meetings. In our club the club meeting is about the only time when brewers meet each other. We are also fairly far spread out with travel times ranging from 15 to 60 min.

Kai

Hi Kai,
My club has been around for a long time (late 1970s/early 1980s), and the basic meeting structure has evolved over that time.  This is the Boulder County homebrew club, and our members have travel times very similar to yours.
Cheers,
   Janis
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Janis on December 21, 2010, 06:42:15 PM
Thanks, Janis.   I was just picturing trying to do dinner for our club!  We've had an explosion of members the last few years and our tech meetings are now over 60 in average attendance.  Parties are too big to even guess!

Hi Denny,
As our club has grown, we have developed a color group system to ensure food, and beer, and set-up/clean-up are all a sure thing at each meeting.  There are 4 color groups, Orange, Red, Green, and Blue.  Each month one group has food responsibility, one has the beer style of the month, one has set-up/clean-up, and the 4th group has the month off.  The responsibilities rotate so that the group responsible for beer gets the next month off.  Color groups are assigned when you become a member, but they change at the beginning of each year when you renew your membership.  This system was devised by Bob and Caroline Kauffman.

The cool thing is that the color group responsible for beer meets at one brewers house and they brew the beer.  It's an awesome way to expand your brewing knowledge and techniques.  The club picks up the tab for ingredients for the brew, and also for the food for each meeting.

Our club holds a fundraiser auction every August to finance the rental of the hall for the meetings, and the food, and beer ingredients.

Cheers,
   Janis
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: tumarkin on December 21, 2010, 06:43:27 PM
Our club, Hogtown Brewers in Gainesville FL, has about 100 members. Most meetings average 25-30 with a max of about 40. We meet at member's homes, beginning each meeting with a pot-luck dinner. We haven't had a problem yet, but have about maxed the possible size for meeting in members homes. Not sure where we'll go if/when membership & meeting attendance grows beyond our current limitation.

Our meetings start with the potluck dinner, then we do Homebrew Show n Tell, then any necessary meeting business/announcements, followed by the presentation, and then just partying. We do the vast majority of club business at separate exec meetings (to which all members are welcome - though it's usually the same group 10-12 comprised of the officers and the few others that carry the weight of making things happen. We went to this format a number of years ago because of lack of interest/attention of many members during the meetings. Partying is easy (beer, homebrewers, what else do you expect?), but the rest takes effort. So far our format has been working well, though some meetings do get a bit scattered during the presentation.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: denny on December 21, 2010, 06:50:34 PM
Janis, that's a level of commitment and organization that our club couldn't begin to handle! Good on ya!
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Kaiser on December 21, 2010, 06:59:04 PM
Thanks. There are some great ideas here.

I wouldn’t mind moving to a model where there is some small presentation at each meeting and there are also more comprehensive technical meetings. Maybe the presentations can be a teaser for the technical meetings.

Kai
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Kit B on December 21, 2010, 07:05:18 PM
The club I belong to (River City Brewers in Monticello, MN) are fairly organized.
We are lucky enough to meet at River City Extreme Bowling, the first Monday of every month.
They don't charge us for the use of a conference room, but we all order food & beverages from them, throughout our meetings.
From 6:00-6:30 is social/eating/drinking time...Then, we call the meeting to order...Discuss business...Have an assigned presentation or 2 by members...Discuss more business & future plans...Then, we have a tasting session of beer &/or wine.
Meetings typically go until 9:00 or 10:00.
We just started up, less than a year ago & I think we have aquired 25+ members.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: dbeechum on December 21, 2010, 08:59:33 PM
The Falcons have a ridiculously organized approach to things (at least ridiculous for us)

We meet the first Sunday of every month at 12 at our club house behind our sponsoring shop.

Meetings start promptly at 12 (oh who am I kidding, we're usually lucky to get started by 12:20)

Meeting kicks off with a style presentation by our Grand Hydrometer (currently, me) and the beer tasting is whatever the GH decides to do. Last month I did the 30th Anniversary Series from Sierra Nevada. Next month I'll be doing a tasting of "Big and Malty Deutchland Style"

After that tasting (4-5 beers) and back and forth commentary, we usually move onto a technical presentation with me presenting for a few minutes about something that's interesting to me at the moment.

Then we do business and intersperse business with homebrews. The homebrewers get to stand up, present their beer and talk about them and get feedback.

Then we break for lunch and beer and then come back for even more homebrews.

Meeting usually wraps up sometime around 4:30 or so.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: jeffy on December 21, 2010, 09:31:12 PM
My club has a great host for our meetings.  The owner of Mr. Dunderbaks in Tampa is a homebrewer and craft beer lover and closes off the majority of the restaurant for our meetings, which are on the second Tuesday of the month.  Meetings have some business and announcements first, then sometimes we have a guest and occasionally somebody will give a presentation or a show and tell, then it's mostly social.  Lots of homebrew is passed around.
On the third Tuesday of the month we hold what I call "judging class."  We meet to sample and judge the style of the month, which is closely associated with the club only competitions of the AHA.  We sample commercial examples of the style, have a quick lesson on judging and sensory analysis and then fill out BJCP score sheets on the homebrews, followed by discussion of each one.  It's very educational.  We normally have about a dozen people at the "classes" and 30 to 50 at the regular meetings.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: mabrungard on December 22, 2010, 07:03:58 PM
In my first club, North Florida Brewers League, there were separate meetings for the technical sessions. 

The regular club meetings were held at a restaurant bar that allowed us to meet, eat, and drink and also bring our homebrew for informal evaluation (I wouldn't really call it judging).  These regular meetings were specifically geared to be social with a minor education provided on a monthly beer style and then we had the tasting and evaluation.  No heavy technical stuff was typically included in those meetings.   These were typically fairly large meetings.

The technical meetings were typically with smaller groups and they were held at a member's house.  These did get into some nifty technical and stylistic evaluations and discussions.   The thought was that these technical discussions turned off some people and were sometimes outside the interests of general club members.  Having the technical sessions separate let the folks who were really interested in the subject get together and focus on a more closely instead of slipping this into a meeting where some might either be dozing off or disturbing the geeks.

 
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: MDixon on December 23, 2010, 02:19:39 PM
We are only good for about 10-15 minutes of presentation before the natives get restless. We tend to pull in about 25 for each meeting, sometimes more. In the past any educational session has come during the first minutes of the meeting and then we pass the beers. On occasion we'll have a full blown educational session with a pro brewer or pro meadmaker or will have a longer topic. Now we have been starting the meeting 1/2 hour early for those interested in learning more.

I've always gotten more out of the passing of the beers than anything else. As we pass them we might discuss the attributes or flaws in private OR the brewer might ask for real feedback and the group will chime in. Our MO is for the brewer to state the recipe and brewing techniques (mash temp, fementation temp, etc). Often we can figure out why a beer is so good or why it missed the mark from that information. If someone in the crowd has lots of knowledge about an ingredient or practice they will share the info with the group. The beauty is if someone starts stating BS to the group it won't last long.

Another thing we have is private forums for our members which has tons of information. We've got about 100 forum members and have over 12,000 posts from the membership!
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: christo on December 30, 2010, 06:57:10 PM
Our club is similar to Mike's in that at about 15 minutes tops people get antsy when discussing technical or style topics during our regular monthly "business" meeting.  With other typical business discussion, the total official meeting ends up at an hour or so, which is about the tipping point for attention of your average beer drinker :D.  Time afterwards is spent on comraderie and general one-on-one or small group discussions which many times started from the technical discussion during the regular business portion of the meeting.

We hold a separate meeting we call our "stammtisch" each month for a beer swap at someone's house (unforturnately we cannot bring beer into the brewpub where we meet for business meetings per GA law).  We also hold our club-only comps at these and that has led to style discussions on the style to be judged.

Lastly, we hold a separate BJCP class for those who want really detailed information about ingredients, styles, process, etc.  For the 6 months before the test, we will meet 1.5 hours prior to the regular meeting plus have additional sessions at a different time during the month.  
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Bruce B on January 03, 2011, 06:39:11 PM
Hi Kai,

We have a similar issue with the Barons (around 200 members).  We meet on a the 4th Wednesday of every month and have an attendance of 100 to 120.  Some want more homebrewing technical homebrewing presentations, others want more general discussions.  In order to keep the homebrewers happy and bring in more new brewers we started our Brew U educational program about three years ago.  Because of the program we're seeing more and more homebrewers show up to the monthly meetings and greater requests for more homebrew focused discussion.  This year we'll be adjusting our classes a bit more to offer more advanced topics since we're planning on covering more beginning and intermediate topics during the monthly meetings. 

One thing we've learned and you may already know - brew is served at the monthly meetings which means you'll only have an audience's attention for maybe 60 to 90 minutes.  After that it gets too hard to keep people's attention and the side conversations to a low roar.  Because of this we'll probably always have some advanced classes away from the monthly meetings because they are either too technical (like advanced yeast or hops sessions) or does not appeal to a large audience (bjcp study sessions).

Here is a link to the classes we offered last year if you're looking for ideas - http://beerbarons.org/Brew-U/classCatalog.html.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the classes or if you'd like to see some of our presentation material.
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Janis on January 03, 2011, 06:53:41 PM
Bruce,

That's an impressive syllabus!  Would you be willing to post this information and a link to your website to the AHA Club Wiki?  http://ahaclubs.homebrewersassociation.org/ (http://ahaclubs.homebrewersassociation.org/)  You'll need to be registered on that wiki to post, but you can sign up with the same information as you use for the AHA Forum.  I think this information would be great under the Running A Club ==> General Management section.  You can copy this Forum post and then paste as text into the page you create.  Let me know if you have any questions or problems.

Cheers,
   Janis
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Kaiser on January 03, 2011, 08:09:04 PM
Bruce,

Thanks for the information.

Yes I think having some technical content at regular meetings and special technical meetings should be a good compromise. But I doubt that we'll get as organized as guys you are ;).

Kai
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: Bruce B on January 04, 2011, 04:01:46 AM
Well, organized might be a strong word for how we get things done.  I will say that our planning got a little more serious in our second year of classes.  That's when we got an email from a woman in the Chicago area wanting to send her husband and a friend to Milwaukee for the weekend to attend our Intermediate Class.  She was giving the trip to her husband as a Christmas present.  No pressure...  :o
Title: Re: Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
Post by: mr_jeffers on February 05, 2011, 04:30:19 AM
Sounds like a fun weekend Bruce.

I'm a member of the Southern Maine Homebrewers.  Some of our members have expressed an interest in discussing the more technical aspects of brewing at club meetings, so recently we've been trying to incorporate a short information session with each meeting. Somewhere in the 20-30 minute range, the topic can be about styles, techniques, etc.  November's meeting consisted of going over the style notes for Belgian Tripels, and sampling a couple commercial examples since there were no homebrewed versions available.