I live in SW Virginia, have been brewing for 6 years and have never been to an NHC. I'm not sure if anyone else in my club of 80 members has either, and as long as they are held on the west coast, it will probably stay that way. Yes, it will be in Philly next year, but if I have to miss that one for any reason (newborn baby?), when will my next opportunity come?
This isn't meant to be a rant against the NHC - I understand that the west coast sites were selected out of logistical necessities. This is a request for the AHA to expand and share that conference experience on a smaller scale at the regional level. As it is, there are probably thousands of members turned away from the NHC every year due to ticket availability. Holding conferences throughout the year for several hundred members at a time would allow more of us to share our homebrew and interact with a wider homebrewing audience, present our findings and listen to other experienced homebrewers and local professionals.
Yes it would take more planning and coordination, but I think clubs from smaller cities not equipped for an NHC would embrace the opportunity to bring homebrewers to their area. Sure we have rallies now, but they're missing the key component that makes NHC so appealing...homebrew! If I want to dress up in a funny costume and share my beers with people from other cities, I shouldn't have to buy a plane ticket.
What say ye?
VP - Star City Brewers Guild