Author Topic: New club advice requested  (Read 2259 times)

Offline norcaljp

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New club advice requested
« on: January 17, 2016, 02:45:28 AM »
My buddies and I are in the final stages of starting a club. We should have our charter finalized and first official meeting the last weekend of this month.

My goal is for us to be the type of club that will help us all improve as home brewers while building a home brewing community in our area.

I thought I'd reach out to see if anyone has any advice. I'd like to learn from others experiences. We have about 6 members on board right now with 4-5 more people who have shown interest.

Any do's or don'ts?
Anything that sounded good but maybe didn't work out as you thought?

Any and all advice would be much appreciated.
Joel Prater

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Offline dbeechum

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2016, 04:44:20 AM »
Do's:

- Help each other out
- Be honest with feedback, but kind.
- Brew together in a way that invites non-members over
- Allow the club's identity to organically develop and roll with what the members ultimately want.
- Rotate leadership - don't have one or two folks carrying the burden because when they burn out, you'll be hurting.
- Find a public spot to congregate. Makes it easier for new folks to join in (going into a club meeting for the first time is intimidating - going to someone's house you've never met - forget it)
- Play around

Don'ts:
- Be comic book guys (aka unhelpful prickish people using your knowledge to demonstrate your superiority)
- Be all about the drinking
- Do "membership ranks" - it's childish (in my opinion)
- Forget to have fun and play around.
Drew Beechum - Maltosefalcons.com
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Offline tommymorris

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New club advice requested
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2016, 05:03:02 AM »
By laws item: if there is a quorum required for voting: make the requirement a low number.

The first year I was in a club the quorum was set at like 50% of members present. That was hard to get. Lots of members sign up and then come only once or infrequently.

Offline norcaljp

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2016, 06:10:43 AM »
By laws item: if there is a quorum required for voting: make the requirement a low number.

The first year I was in a club the quorum was set at like 50% of members present. That was hard to get. Lots of members sign up and then come only once or infrequently.

We currently have 33% of the paid members being required for a quorum. Is that realistic in people's experience?
Joel Prater

I prefer to drink my bread, thank you

Offline norcaljp

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2016, 06:12:12 AM »
Do's:

- Help each other out
- Be honest with feedback, but kind.
- Brew together in a way that invites non-members over
- Allow the club's identity to organically develop and roll with what the members ultimately want.
- Rotate leadership - don't have one or two folks carrying the burden because when they burn out, you'll be hurting.
- Find a public spot to congregate. Makes it easier for new folks to join in (going into a club meeting for the first time is intimidating - going to someone's house you've never met - forget it)
- Play around

Don'ts:
- Be comic book guys (aka unhelpful prickish people using your knowledge to demonstrate your superiority)
- Be all about the drinking
- Do "membership ranks" - it's childish (in my opinion)
- Forget to have fun and play around.

Great advice, thank you
Joel Prater

I prefer to drink my bread, thank you

Offline mabrungard

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2016, 08:20:35 PM »
I can't emphasis Drew's recommendation enough about meeting in a public place. Your club will struggle to grow when interested brewers have to go to some stranger's house to meet people that they don't know. It doesn't work. My current club struggled with low numbers for years before I insisted that we meet in more public places.

Breweries, restaurants, homebrew shops, public libraries or community centers are good meeting place choices. Having a place with food is also a nice feature since weekday meetings are after work.  Having the ability to sample homebrew in those venues is also an important factor. A great benefit of club membership is comraderie, but also the chance to get your homebrew assessed (and hopefully savored) by others.
Martin B
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2016, 08:39:10 PM »

By laws item: if there is a quorum required for voting: make the requirement a low number.

The first year I was in a club the quorum was set at like 50% of members present. That was hard to get. Lots of members sign up and then come only once or infrequently.

We currently have 33% of the paid members being required for a quorum. Is that realistic in people's experience?
I think your in the ball park.

Re: public places. Yes. My old club met in a nice smoking lounge at a craft beer store. The room was free (we bought plenty of beer before and after meetings).

In my current town, meetings are in people's houses. I read the club's forum to check on meetings. It goes like this:

User 1: who is hosting this month?
User 2: I will.
Then there will be discussion about car pools.  No mention of address, date, time... As a new guy in town, it doesn't feel very inviting.

Regarding meetings:

Do something besides just beer tasting. That's nice but there are other possible agenda items; invited talks, BJCP practice, etc.

Include some positive feedback when tasting people's beer.

The club in this town seems to have this agenda.

1. Walk in. Sign in: name, what beer did you bring.
2. Go through list. Brewer serves tasters and describes beer.
3. Crowd criticizes. When I went about 20 beers were tasted (luckily I walked there). Every beer was criticized, not just mine. Very little positive. Just what you did wrong.

Very different.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2016, 10:01:23 PM »
After having a club for about 9 or 10 years, my club finally just last month passed some by-laws.  We had initially set quorum at 33% but based on additional discussion decided that it should be 40%.  We are currently at about 16 or 18 members, so it's still a small club, definitely not huge, but growing a lot lately.  A year ago we were probably at about 11 or 12 members, but we're all pretty hardcore with everyone coming to almost every meeting.  Counter-intuitively, I believe it is our hardcore beer-geeky nature that has made the club STRONGER and NOT weaker.  We can all speak our minds at any time about anyone's beer, give them light-hearted wink-wink crap about DMS or diacetyl or whatever, but we've all developed thick skin and just try to do better next time, and conversely, when someone brings a truly fantastic beer and we rave about it, they can go home knowing that it truly IS a fantastic beer and we're not just being nice.  I think we do tend to get a little carried away and it does turn some potential new member away, but the ones who stay inevitably become, or already are, awesome hardcore beer nerds, so, is that such a bad thing???  I dunno!!  I guess we kind of like it this way!?!

One big criticism I have of our club is the lengthy "business" portion of the meetings..... I have mentioned time and again that while we do have important business to get through, planning our next events or competitions or whatever, plus a presentation on "How To _____", this stuff does not need to take long, we should be able to discuss and take votes and get through it all in 20 minutes, or 30 minutes tops.  Any top-tier club would be able to do that I think.  And yet, we don't, we can't... no..... it usually takes a friggin HOUR or so, plus or minus, to fully discuss every nitty-gritty detail, and it drives me nuts.  Observant folks will catch me yawning and rolling my eyes at times, when what I'd rather be doing is talking to Joe, Dick, or Harry about the beer they've made and how awesome it is, or discuss my own process with others.

Bottom line, for me at least, is to make sure it's fun and educational, and NOT too much business.  Committees could be set up for the extra business stuff, for members who are most interested.  This will become more and more important as our club (and any club) continues to grow, with a greater core membership and leadership team who wants the club to do more public stuff, and not just lay back and drink beers with minimal production.  In the early years, we did that.  We just talked beer the whole time with no expectations of getting out into the public and promoting this event or that event.  Now, it just seems like a few people want to do all this extra stuff while most of us would rather go the old route of just talking and laughing and having a good time talking about homebrewing, and not be required to sit on our hands with our mouths zipped shut for a full friggin hour.

Guess I should probably pass all this on to my leadership now.  </rant>

Hope some of this helps other clubs in some way.  Something to think about for sure.
Dave

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Offline BrewBama

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2016, 10:44:57 PM »
I'm not that social. I like to read, learn from others and try, try again. I have minimalist equipment.  The last thing I need is a click of pompous brewers with more experience, more expensive equipment, more ego telling me the beer I like to drink isn't this, that, or the other. When you're getting your club going remember there are folks like me. Folks who brew with extract, or use dry yeast, or use a water cooler as a mash/lauter tun. Not everyone wants to go pro or has a $2,000 brew rig, or glycol conicals, etc.   IOW; Don't be THAT club.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2016, 10:48:26 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2016, 12:08:54 AM »
Dave brings up another point...fun!

Yes, meetings should be fun and SATISFYING. I mention satisfying as an alternative to educational since not all attendees have a goal to learn anything at all meetings. At both my current club and my old club in Tallahassee (NFBL), we had regular meetings that were never technical or especially educational and then we also had other special meetings that WERE focused on learning something or geekiness.

Since we are dealing with a hobby, fun is a requirement for everything a club strives to do. However, everyone obtains their own definition of satisfaction. That is the balance that club leaders need to strive for.
Martin B
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: New club advice requested
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2016, 06:20:24 PM »
Have a clear idea of what you want the club to do and what you want to do at the meetings. Some people want technical meetings while others just want to get away from the family and drink some beer. There's everything in between. You can't have meetings that satisfy everybody. If you want to spend time working on developing a strong set of competition beers then do that. People who want more casual meetings are free to have their own club or put together their own hangouts.

Recognize as well that as the club grows you will have to adapt. In a small club you can knock out most club business in regular meetings in a few minutes but as the club grows you will probably want to take the finer points to another meeting or forum so it doesn't absorb the regular meetings. Similarly, if you spend time critiquing beers you'll have to come up with a system so you aren't spending three hours each meeting critiquing fifty beers.
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