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Messages - bobby_m

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Events / Re: Club Night Booth Logistics
« on: April 22, 2013, 09:15:58 AM »
In case anyone is playing along...

I got a reply from someone at AHA that we probably shouldn't exceed 10' of height. I was skeptical because I've been to several club nights and most rooms were easily 20ft or more and I know clubs have had taller booth elements than 10'. I called the hotel sales number and found that the grand ballroom has two ceiling heights depending if you're in the center or fringe areas.. The heights are 18' and 22'. I'm not saying clubs will want to create 18' tall structures, but if you've got a big banner and want to get it up high, I think 15' would be reasonable if you can do it safely. I've seen some really floppy pvc based banner structures before and I'd recommend a test run on your prototypes before showing up to the NHC  :D

Events / Re: Club Night Booth Logistics
« on: April 16, 2013, 03:57:33 PM »
We're not planning on getting crazy, but the current plan is to make a very sturdy structure using "build your own" carport fittings designed for 1" EMT tubing. It would be shaped mostly like the typical EZ-up tent with four legs at the corners of our booth area. We've seen some clubs try to build a banner stand out of flimsy PVC and go really high but it's a disaster.

While height is the current question, the above posts about actual booth area is obviously a concern with a structure like this. We'd like the banner to be a wide as possible and while the support structure can be cut down on sight, once the banner is painted there's not a whole lot of scaling that can happen.

Now that you mention touching base with clubs, I don't recall being contacted even though we signed up twice apparently in two different registration systems that were rolled out over time. What date did the email go out so I can go searching? In any case, the WHALES are definitely coming.

Events / Re: Club Night Booth Logistics
« on: March 08, 2013, 11:02:59 AM »
Thanks Ron. I think a couple members are looking for an excuse to go drinking at Monk's so even if we knew what room it was going to be in, they could do a quick recon mission.

Events / Club Night Booth Logistics
« on: March 07, 2013, 01:23:34 PM »
I shot an email over to Kathryn Porter Drapeau but haven't heard back. I figured I'd open it up to more people that may have some input.

I've attended the last 5 conferences so I have a general idea of what club nights look like. Not including Oakland, which had much more of a convention center feel like GABF, the social nights have been in a grand banquet room, typically with 14'  ceilings or something like that. 

Do we know what the height restrictions for booth assemblies might be? Many clubs make the mistake of putting all their design efforts into stuff that sits lower than 6' off the ground. Fill the room up and you can't see squat. We want to get our banner and stuff up high enough to see but we need to know if the ceilings are like 12'. Anyone know for sure?

How do clubs typically load in their gear? We plan to bring a 12 keg kegerator with us as our serving bar and that plus other decor will require that we bring a small trailer. With the parking situation in Philly, how the hell can we make that happen? Especially given the need to clear out in a short time with a long buzz?

Events / Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: March 07, 2013, 12:56:13 PM »
I understand Darwin18's point about it being the NHC and not the AHAC but let's be really clear here. The competition is run by the AHA so it is their competition afterall. The final round is judged at the conference and the awards are announced at the end. I understand that judge proximity is the main reason why it is coupled with the conference. In any case, AHA is national in scope so a huge competition open their membership is still National in scope. Even if they limited 100% of entries to AHA members, they don't need to rename it.

I do think that priority for initial entry should be given to two groups of people, not necessarily in any preferred order. The first is for those already registered with a conference pass. I could see the first day entry process doing a quick lookup to see if the entrant's AHA number is associated with a conference registration. All that I ask is that if someone is willing to plunk $2K down to attend the conference, they should have ONE shot at an entry. Otherwise, banquet is already a total let down.

Registration could go like this:
-AHA Member? Yes (1) No (2)
-Conference Attendee Yes (A) No (B)
- First Region Preference
-Second Region Preferenc
-How many entries would you like to register (dropdown with any number up to 30) This would just be used for statistics gathering.

Day 1: 1A gets dibs on 1 entry into their 1st pref region
Day 2: 1B gets dibs on 1 entry """"
Day 3: Compare remaining entry spots to individuals who wanted to enter but still have not and determine if a lottery needs to be enacted to fill remaining spots in any region.

Though it sounds quite socialist, I find it much more in the spirit of the purpose of the comp and conference to have more people with single entries than some with 15 or 10 and many with none at all.

Just thinking of my own club, I know of one person who got all 15 entries in. I'm sure that's really lucky but there were a few others who wanted to get 1-3 entries in who never made it. Even in this small pool of people I personally know, I'd much rather each of them got 2-3 in or yes, even just one.

Yes, unfortunately the situation makes Ninkasi way more about entry persistence or luck any absolute brewing prowess. The severe entry caps will negate the Ninkasi but I think it's way more important for people to be psyched about the possibility for ONE medal than a few with their eyes on Ninkasi. It just doesn't work in this system nor any system that can be imagined in the future.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Thoughts on handling longterm guests
« on: January 24, 2013, 01:11:28 PM »
People that want to show up to check out the club usually email our info address prior to showing up the first time and they are informed that they can attend one meeting with no strings attached. 99% of first time guests ask for a membership application and pay dues at the following meeting.  If they show up again with no intentions to join, they get a talking to. We're all adults with reasonable communication skills. .. at least for the first half of the night.

Events / Re: AHA Conference is SOLD OUT!
« on: February 03, 2012, 10:00:37 AM »
I didn't realize there was a way to back out of a registration. Isn't that an obvious reason why it sold out quickly? Does the AHA impose any kind of back out fee to discourage people from jumping the gun even though they know they have an uphill battle to actually make it to the event?

Ugh... I never thought I'd have to camp out on the registration site to get a spot. Frustrated, this may be the first one I missed in the last four years. I'm curious how many West Coasters are going to keep it going when they have to spend 5 hours on a plane next year.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: July 28, 2011, 10:05:40 AM »
In regards to allowing the meeting attendance numbers to self regulate, here's the devil's advocate position.

Let's say your membership is 100 and your meeting space fits 50. Let's say during your growth phase, attendance was about 75% so at 60 members, 45 showed up.  As you hit 80, 60 tried to make it in but it sucked badly due to crowding. The first 10 people that start NOT showing up due to crowding are not necessarily the least dedicated to the hobby or the club, it's just the people who are the most easily annoyed by crowds. What if the type of people that continue to show up are actually the least interested in the mission of the club but just the most tolerant of other sardines?

Long story short, there's got to be a way to keep the meetings focused and attended by people most willing to support the club's mission. Unfortunately, hitting that goal makes leadership into the bad guys no matter how you look at it.

I'd love to hear ideas on how to actually make that work. We're knee deep in our first attempt and I'm not liking it all that much.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dues & such
« on: July 28, 2011, 09:56:02 AM »
Jimmy, the buck a meeting model seems like a great idea as long as the majority of your costs are meeting related such as cups, water, crackers, etc. For a club like ours, I think it breaks down when money is spent as a benefit to the club over a long term. Another example would be throwing a big party or picnic for the club using club funds. Someone who came to one meeting and spent a dollar could come to the party the following week and consume $20 worth of food and drink. It's an extreme example, but mostly realistic IMHO.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dues & such
« on: July 15, 2011, 09:21:51 AM »
Hi Roxanne, if we had unlimited meeting space, we would certainly invite spouses to come to the meetings at all times. I guess it could be debated if an accompanying spouse needs to be an official member or not, but at one time we offered a 50% discount for a spouse because we knew they would on average only attend about half the functions. We got to thinking that if a spouse was serious enough to brew and enter comps as singles, etc, they would just get their own membership.

It became a moot point when we ran out of space in the meeting venue. We don't mind when someone brings a guest once in a while and we always invite members to have family/spouse come out to the bigger social events.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: July 15, 2011, 09:12:48 AM »
Bobby M-
Been out of the loop for a bit. I'm wondering what your steering committee decided to cap the membership at and why? Meeting dynamics, meeting venue capacity? What you did might be helpful to what we're facing now.

I posted this in the other thread but I'll expand on it here:

Meeting location is one of the practical limits and it's probably a bigger issue for old clubs that have been in one establishment for a really long time. Before our explosive growth, the club had been at the same joint for 10 years. A lot of members were adamant against moving to a new place. The people that were in favor of moving couldn't come close to finding a suitable alternative (free and larger). We would have settled for inexpensive.

That's exactly what situation we were in. We had a good portion of the membership who were around for years and years and even some who were at the first meeting in 1996. Not that seniority has any play on decision making in our club, but there was a sense of longevity and stability associated with our meeting space and that space is logistically limited to a max of like 50 people. We held a vote on whether or not we should consider moving to a different venue. Leading up to it, we suggested that anyone that would vote yes would be better positioned to seek out alternative locations and find out what the cost would be. No one really did the leg work on that and the vote went something like 65% stay, 35% find a new venue.

That pretty much sealed the deal on our requirement to limit membership. From then, it was a decision on exactly how we'd do it. The options ranged from a hard cap with a first come, first served system of new membership acquisition to harsh scrutiny of existing members to make sure they weren't just holding a spot with no real participation. See, once you have 50 seats available, you have to think about what kind of members you want occupying them. That's a bit elitist in the realm of homebrewing, but how fun would the club be if a "homebrewing" club was 90% beer drinkers and 10% brewers?

We have capped at 57 so far this year due to how many people are showing up regularly. While the space can fit 50 or so, we only have enough room for 45 chairs before it's hard to walk past. With that limitation, we expect that new applicants are already homebrewers and if anyone inquires wanting to get into the hobby, we provide a list of resources and usually someone will lend a hand with mentorship.  Turning an interested beginner away from the club is the hardest thing to swallow and no one feels good about it. Finally, we implemented a strategy to remove stagnant non-contributors/non-participators. Every member earns points for participating in things the club has deemed worthy and in support of the mission. It ranges from bringing beers to the flight, giving a presentation, brewing at group brews, hosting events, being AHA members, going to NHC, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt to keep track of but the idea is to deny renewal if you don't earn points. Ugh, I know it sounds horrible and covered in red tape.


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Gas
« on: July 08, 2011, 10:48:44 AM »
It should work faster than electric and may be quite a bit cheaper.  I can't stress ventilation enough if it is going to be inside your home.  CO detectors are a must but it starts with airflow, get a high volume vent installed above the brewing space.


Heating time is all relative to how much wattage your element is. A 5500 watt element heats pretty quickly. If you've got a 50amp spa panel, you can even heat with dual 4500w elements for a VERY short strike water heating time. Also, electric heating is near 100% efficient while gas is not since so much heat is lost to the room/air. Given the efficiency difference, the ongoing cost is likely a wash.

One of the things our club has done in the last year or so has been to spend some of our dues-generated funds on a club brewing system. In the past when we wanted to do some 60 gallon brewing project, it would be broken into 5-6 distinct systems so there was a built in variation even if it would be bulk fermented or barrel aged. Now we mash and boil in big vessels and we get to play pro brewer for a day.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Limiting Club Memberships
« on: July 03, 2011, 08:46:53 PM »
I personally don't see much benefit to having members that no one ever sees. There are plenty of virtual groups online for people that can't attend meetings. Sure, taking their dues and not having them ever make claims against it is one benefit, but that's not really in the spirit of what most clubs are about.

Meeting location is one of the practical limits and it's probably a bigger issue for old clubs that have been in one establishment for a really long time. Before our explosive growth, the club had been at the same joint for 10 years. A lot of members were adamant against moving to a new place. The people that were in favor of moving couldn't come close to finding a suitable alternative (free and larger). We would have settled for inexpensive.

The other reason for limiting membership is keeping meetings under control.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: June 29, 2011, 07:25:58 PM »
Brandt, our club just recently hit our cap for the year, as determined by the steering committee. It's a fact that we have to turn new people away for the rest of the year or until we realize some members on the books don't plan to return. As a part of the planning for actually capping membership, we implemented an application review so that we could weed out the "tourists". Afterall, when there are limited seats, we wanted homebrewers to fill them. That isn't to say a club can't have a mix of brewers and beer enthusiasts but when push came to shove, we wanted to be a homebrewing club and not a beer club.

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