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Messages - bobby_m

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Whales of Central NJ:

We went something like 11 years before we had official bylaws and wrote them out of necessity. Admittedly it contains far more detail than likely necessary.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: June 21, 2011, 06:38:33 PM »
I've been living this topic for at least 3 years now. We went from around 20 to 60 in about a year and a half. First, realize that most of the people that were around for a couple years before the explosive growth are probably going to be most affected and put off by the growth while most of the new people will feel at home with more new people.

My advice is to accept that growth is inevitable and account for it ahead of time. I realize some clubs want to be as "Papazian" as possible and not worry about structure or bylaws but I promise you that it's easier to put it all in place before growth starts or gets out of hand.

When growth is due primarily to local, active, participating members (i.e. people that want to show up to meetings), I think there are two primary paths to take. 1) Select a meeting location to stick with and size the club based on the space available. 2) Grow organically and select meeting locations as necessary.

This doesn't address the pros and cons of smaller or larger clubs at all. It's just that you can't commit to a restrictive meeting location AND have no growth plan in place at the same time. Sardines don't make happy members.

When we finally realized that we had 60 members, no growth strategy, no room left and no accepted form of decision making/conflict resolution, we had a near meltdown. People who wanted to affect change were frustrated. The president at the time suggested we form a steering committee to spread out some of the work of the officers and the first goal was to draft bylaws.

I can post more about our bylaws on the other thread, but here are the highlights of our current structure:

President, Treasurer, Secretary are the three officers. Additional steering members are the most recent ex-president and two additional elected representatives. Any suggestions or grievances get made to the committee and they first have a shot at solving it with full consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, it goes to a full club vote. It's sort of democratic in a way, but some faith is put on elected officials to keep petty crap from clogging the meeting.

We don't accept beer tourists into the club. We've decided through majority vote that we like our smaller meeting location (a brew pub) and therefore must cap membership. The club is focused on homebrewing so you have to a be a homebrewer to join. Of course, we probably wouldn't be this restrictive if we had room for more people.


Homebrew Clubs / Hey Drew, where is our Club Leadership Sub Forum?
« on: June 20, 2011, 04:21:54 PM »
I know, I know. The alcohol is still on everyone's breath from the NHC but I thought I'd drop this reminder.

During the Homebrew Club Organization talk at the NHC, it was obvious that all the club leader present were just bursting at the seams with questions and great personal experience to share and the hour we had was nowhere near enough time. There was a suggestion to have a session at the next NHC (and probably should have it as an ongoing feature) set aside for the officers/leadership of all registered clubs to discuss focused issues.

I think we'll have a lot more success taking this online because there are probably way more club presidents out there that can't make it to NHC but hopefully do read these forums.

I think the idea to open up a club leadership sub forum is a great one. It may also be a good idea to pre-load it with some sticky threads of the obvious core issues clubs face.

Meeting Locations
Club Size Discussions
Social Events
Meeting Organization
Bylaws/Leadership Structure
Conflict Resolution

Just some ideas..

Bobby Pres.

Equipment and Software / Re: Digital Mash Thermometer Suggestions
« on: April 13, 2011, 05:46:27 PM »
Granted it can come off as biased because I sell them but I like the CDN proaccurate a lot. It's the thermo I personally use for brewing because it's waterproof, recalibratable, stainless steel body, has a hold button and has larger numbers. It looks like this and is less than 20 bucks.

Sure, thermopen if you've got the $90 to spare. Otherwise, I recommend this one.

Equipment and Software / Re: Sight Gauge
« on: March 03, 2011, 04:34:39 AM »
Are you sure you weren't using a racking cane? Racking canes are usually made of acrylic which has a much lower melting point. Polycarbonate doesn't get soft until it gets to about 350F. If it got soft at 180, I would have received HUNDREDS of returns and 100% negative reviews which is obviously not the case.

Equipment and Software / Re: Sight Gauge
« on: March 01, 2011, 03:55:07 PM »
Damn you're gonna make me buy one of these!

Denny, seriously brother, if you want one it's yours gratis. I'll even hand deliver it to San Diego in June.

Equipment and Software / Re: Sight Gauge
« on: March 01, 2011, 03:52:18 PM »
For the HLT in your setups it makes sense, plus I wouldn't even bother cleaning it then.  But I stand on a step ladder with a hose to fill it anyway, so I can see how full it is.  I thought you guys were using them for the boil or the mash tun.

Tom, many people wonder the same thing and I get repeated emails about it. Here's what I put in my FAQ:

There are all kinds of alternatives to installing a sight glass. You can brew without them. When I first started all grain brewing, I simply measured all my liquid volumes in a spare bucket that had gallon markings printed on the side. That was fine for smaller batches at a time when I transfered everything with a bucket. After you start pumping from one vessel to the next or gravity draining, the use of a bucket is a waste of time.

A lot of brewers also create calibrated dip sticks (or story sticks) that you drop into the vessel to read the level. In the case of a boil kettle, you'll need the level to last for a minute so that you can remove it to read because a constant stream of steam makes it hard to see into the boil kettle.  Also, if you use a tiered system where the hot liquor tank is up high, it's a pain to climb up a step stool to watch the level as you drain it. The basic story here is that a sight glass is a matter of convenience, not necessity.  However, Now that I'm used to it, I don't think I could brew on my system without one.

The one anecdote I like is that I've heard of several people without sight glasses on the HLT and BK suggest they are a waste of money and cleaning effort. However, I have never heard of a single person who has them installed agree with that. You might attribute it to self serving delusion but I don't think so.

Equipment and Software / Re: Sight Gauge
« on: March 01, 2011, 03:44:02 PM »
Or not. $100 for shipping! I've never seen shipping prices that high.

Any country that I haven't set up an international shipping rate for will default to $100. You could have contacted me and asked for a shipping quote. I'm setup for Canada and Australia right now but will add any country to the list by request. The reason I can't just blanket every country in the shipping profiles is that the actual cost is wildly different from country to country. In other words, I'm not going to spend time setting up a profile for a country I may never ship to.

Equipment and Software / Re: Sight Gauge
« on: February 22, 2011, 08:43:59 PM »
Oh, Hi. I'm the owner of and I just wanted to mention that I do, in fact, ship internationally. There was a brief time during the holidays, and shortly afterwards, where order volume was so high that I couldn't justify standing in line at the post office to ship. I'm sorry if that seemed like a lame excuse, but I can drop off 30 domestic shipments in 3 minutes, but it can take up to 30 minutes to stand in line with the customs form, just to ship a single international package.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.



Acetaldehyde – Acetic - Almond - Butyric – Diacetyl - D.M.S. - Earthy – Mercaptan - Ethyl acetate - Ethyl hexanoate – Spicy - Metallic - Geraniol – Indole - Isoamyl acetate - Grainy – Isovaleric - Lactic - Caprylic – Papery - Vanilla - Bitter – Infection - Hefeweizen

Vials get added to a liter of BMC and supply enough for at least 20 tasters. The WHALES club bought two kits figuring on 40 or so tasters but we were able to get about 35 pours off one kit. We now have an extra kit.

The original price from Siebel is $180 plus overnight shipping ($65 for two kits). We'll sell this one for $140 plus whatever shipping costs. I'd recommend Northeast shipping as we can get away with priority USPS and you'll have it in a day.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 2011 NHC
« on: June 22, 2010, 08:01:36 PM »
Not true Denny. I saw a wedding going on in Minneapolis. Somehow I don't think we minded their presence as much as the other way around ;-)

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Location ideas for homebrew club meetings
« on: June 22, 2010, 07:42:09 PM »
I think prior to the internet age, it was a lot more important to have regular meeting locations, dates and times so that potential members (and forgetful current members) know where they are going. Now that every club has a website (right? right?) it should be easy enough to publish next meeting locations.

When you have less than 30 members, with 20 regularly attending, someone's basement is fine. If things go well, you'd outgrow it. My club meets at a brewpub but we've come very close to outgrowing those accommodations several times last year.

How about a VFW hall or Firehouse? Someone has to have a family member who is a member of some kind of social club with a clubhouse. Even if you don't, I bet a firehouse would let you use their hall regularly if you leave a case behind.

Depending on what your real estate market is like, once you get to 80-100 members, it may even be time to start talking about leasing a clubhouse of your own. How cool would that be? Bar, movie screen, pool table, FTW.

Realistically, try finding a restaurant that is BYOB and pick a night when they are normally dead. Approach the manager with the idea and make sure everyone orders food.


All Grain Brewing / Re: The Ideal Batch Sparge
« on: June 05, 2010, 10:04:17 PM »
The equal runoff theory also works when considering more than one sparge. Three equal runoffs of 2.25 gallons each is slightly more efficient than three completely different volumes. Denny is right, these are diminishing returns and just add more time to brew day. Things like crush and minimizing dead space are much more important.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Stuck mash using new pump to recirc??
« on: June 05, 2010, 08:23:57 PM »
Start the recirculation really slow to set the bed without compacting, then run no more than 50% throttle. I also agree that conditioning your malt before the crush is a real help there... assuming you own a mill.


All Grain Brewing / Re: SS mesh vs false bottom
« on: June 05, 2010, 08:21:03 PM »

I understand all that.  And don't really want to get into a big argument.  I believe even with batch sparging, a false bottom is a better option.  Obviously, other do not.  Isn't that the beauty of homebrewing?  Many different opinions on how to pursue this great hobby.  I'll never know for sure, because I will only use a false bottom. 

Ok, it's not a big argument but you don't explain why you think a false bottom is better for batch sparging. There is no sugar gradient at all when you stir the sparge water in. All you have to do at that point is to get all the wort out. If you're suggesting that a false bottom will reduce dead space, then that would support the argument. However, properly installed, a braid can leave less than a 1/2 quart of wort behind.

Alternatively, you can install a FB poorly with a siphon tube that doesn't go all the way to the bottom, and leave a bunch of wort behind.

Finally, the holes in a FB are really prone to getting clogged with circular bits of grain. I have one.

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