Author Topic: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition  (Read 9804 times)

Offline beerpal

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Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« on: June 21, 2011, 08:50:52 AM »
We all new it would happen eventually and it did- The Brewing Network's "homebrew club" won Club of the Year. I am of the opinion that a club that has no meetings, has no officers, collects no dues and exists only in the most general sense of the word and even then, only virtually, is not really a club at all. Further, a club like this can draw hundreds or thousands of "members" from all over the country. Real clubs, brick-and-mortar clubs, cannot. They are typically restricted to members from the local area. This creates a very uneven playing field, IMHO. I know TBN meets the AHA rules for being a club (that is; simply call yourself a club and you are one) but I wonder what the general consensus on this issue is. I have hashed this out over on The Brewing Network forum, but not surprisingly, most there seem to feel that it's tough ta-tas for anybody that doesn't like it. I think the AHA needs to define what a homebrew club is in the competiton rules. Your thoughts?

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 09:06:26 AM »
That's the rub isn't it? We went through this a few years ago with the Rats when they first popped on the scene as well.

Part of the problem is that not every club collects dues or has formal meetings, but they can be very real entities. One could make a fair argument that the weekly broadcasts are interactive enough to qualify as meeting.

The other bit of the equation is - what about the people who either don't have a club locally or don't have one locally that fits them?

The one bit of balancer in the equation is that in the first round it is impossible for any club to score greater than 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze.

The potential to draw on the masses is a powerful thing, but how do we respond? You have to be local? Then you lose the historic runs of Jamil (a QUAFF member in Sacramento) or Gordon (Saint Paul, but lives in Ohio).

Obviously, the Competition Committee has a bit of work in front of it, but I suspect the primary focus will be on correcting this year's issues with the first round.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 09:07:24 AM »
Back in 2000-2001, there was a virtual club called The Brew Rats that made a run at CotY.  Came in second, IIRC.  Then the push was to make sure rules didn't hurt clubs that could only enter in 1 region.  That's when the "no more than 12 points per category" rule was adopted.

I don't see a problem with it.  Clubs are groups of people helping each other, and that what happens with TBN.  A lot of people who enter that way don't have any other viable local clubs, and may live in remote areas.

I've met some of the people who live in the boonies and have tried their beer.  I'm convinced they never would have achieved that level of quality without something like TBN, so it does have an impact.

Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline stevo155

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 09:12:18 AM »
What is the purpose of having a homebrew club?

1.  Educate and share ideas on homebrewing
2.  Meeting new people interested in Homebrewing
3.  Generating interest and expanding membership of the homebrewing community

Sound to me like the Brewing Network has all these covered.  Weekly meetings on the Sunday Session, where members are allowed to present their ideas and feedback.  Even though they are not all read on the air, Justin almost always responds to the emails.  There's even a big annual meeting ( BN Anniversary Party ).  Some of us even pay dues ( gladly ) in the form of monthly donations.

I'm actually shocked to see that it took this long for someone to voice their opinion on the BN winning Club of The Year.

I don't have the actual numbers in front of me with regards to points, but going into the final round, it wasn't like DOZE or QUAFF were getting beaten by a landslide, even with the vast natiowide membership of the BN.

If the AHA decides to change the rules regarding club of the year qualifications, let's pleas make sure it's for the right reasons, not because some think they are a bunch of asshats ( which they are  ;D ).

And not to slight Gordon, but how would you handle his contribution to the Saint Paul Homebrewers when he lives hundreds of miles away.

Offline beerpal

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 09:20:12 AM »
You all make valid points, but I still have a problem with it. For instance, in my city there is a private Catholic high school that has had the top-ranked high school footbal program in the country for many years and in fact once had a run of 151 consecutive wins. Much of that came when the team competed in the same league as local public high schools. The private school was able to recruit players from all over the country while the public schools could only draw from their surrounding neighborhoods. I see this situation as identical. Maybe nobody else sees it as an issue and if that's the case, I don't need to spend any more brain cells b*tching about it. Just seems to be an inequity to me, that's all.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 09:22:24 AM by beerpal »

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 09:23:39 AM »
Even if people disagree about whether or not its unfair, any issue of seeming inequity needs to be addressed so that people don't feel cheated, etc.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 09:27:53 AM »
Put me down as saying that I have no problem with TBN winning.  They followed the rules and won.

There are brewers that make a decision as to what club to enter under.  Often the loyalty to the local club has the strongest pull.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline beerpal

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 09:29:57 AM »
Put me down as saying that I have no problem with TBN winning.  They followed the rules and won.
I'm not saying anybody cheated; clearly TBN meets the current AHA criteria for a homebrewing club. What I'm suggesting is that the criteria need to be changed.

Offline johnf

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »
Put me down as saying that I have no problem with TBN winning.  They followed the rules and won.
I'm not saying anybody cheated; clearly TBN meets the current AHA criteria for a homebrewing club. What I'm suggesting is that the criteria need to be changed.

Can you suggest what the criteria should be?

As has been mentioned, requiring dues, requiring local members only, etc affect many more clubs than TBN. I think if you want to come at this with a scalpel and invalidate TBN while otherwise maintaining the status quo, you will find that an impossible task. It is easy to say the AHA must redefine "club", it is hard to write out what the new definition should be.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 09:36:41 AM »
There's no doubt that it is unequal, but unequal is not the same as unfair.  Unlike in the football example, nothing is keeping any club from accepting members from all over the world.  That's not how most clubs operate, but I'm not going to judge what works for someone else.  They see themselves as a club, I think that's good enough for me.  They do a lot more to help people make better beer than your average club does, so if they are able to win good for them.

But maybe it could be addressed by filtering clubs the way they do the pros at the GABF.  There they use bbls of production (I assume) to determine small vs. large for brewery of the year for example.  It's worth considering adding a category for small vs large club of the year and filter by the number of members who enter the first round.  That could lead to problems in some clubs (don't enter that beer, it's not good enough) but there are few reasonable options for ways to monitor small vs large.  
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 09:38:27 AM by tschmidlin »
Tom Schmidlin

Offline beerpal

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 09:37:56 AM »
Put me down as saying that I have no problem with TBN winning.  They followed the rules and won.
I'm not saying anybody cheated; clearly TBN meets the current AHA criteria for a homebrewing club. What I'm suggesting is that the criteria need to be changed.

Can you suggest what the criteria should be?

As has been mentioned, requiring dues, requiring local members only, etc affect many more clubs than TBN. I think if you want to come at this with a scalpel and invalidate TBN while otherwise maintaining the status quo, you will find that an impossible task. It is easy to say the AHA must redefine "club", it is hard to write out what the new definition should be.

Well, first off, I've never indicated that a club should only consist of local members. I have said that typically, club members are local to each other. But if Jamil (for instance) wants to be a DOZE member (which he has been) and drive 100 miles from Elk Grove to attend meetings (which he has done) that's fine.

I think a club should have regular, physical meetings to discuss club business (not an internet radio show or a yearly party), should have officers and do the things the club is organized to do.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 09:46:03 AM by beerpal »

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 09:41:53 AM »
I think a club should have regular, physical meetings to discuss club business (not an internet radio show or a yearly party), should have officers and do the things the club is organized to do.
Well then you've invalidated one of my clubs.  We have regular meetings, but we have no club business and no officers.  We gather, taste beers, talk about beer and brewing (among other things), and go home.  It's a nice relaxed club, I've made good friends there.

But we have to be a club, right?  We have t-shirts. ;)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2011, 09:43:37 AM »
There's no doubt that it is unequal, but unequal is not the same as unfair.  Unlike in the football example, nothing is keeping any club from accepting members from all over the world.  That's not how most clubs operate, but I'm not going to judge what works for someone else.  They see themselves as a club, I think that's good enough for me.  They do a lot more to help people make better beer than your average club does, so if they are able to win good for them.

But maybe it could be addressed by filtering clubs the way they do the pros at the GABF.  There they use bbls of production (I assume) to determine small vs. large for brewery of the year for example.  It's worth considering adding a category for small vs large club of the year and filter by the number of members who enter the first round.  That could lead to problems in some clubs (don't enter that beer, it's not good enough) but there are few reasonable options for ways to monitor small vs large.  

I really like the idea of small club vs. large club idea as it would make it more equitable for all parties involved. Great idea Tom.
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Offline beerpal

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 09:44:36 AM »
I think a club should have regular, physical meetings to discuss club business (not an internet radio show or a yearly party), should have officers and do the things the club is organized to do.
Well then you've invalidated one of my clubs.  We have regular meetings, but we have no club business and no officers.  We gather, taste beers, talk about beer and brewing (among other things), and go home.  It's a nice relaxed club, I've made good friends there.

But we have to be a club, right?  We have t-shirts. ;)
Maybe your club doesn't meet all my criteria, but it certainly meets the most important one- regular, physical meetings.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Virtual Homebrew Clubs And Competition
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2011, 09:49:48 AM »
I think a club should have regular, physical meetings to discuss club business (not an internet radio show or a yearly party), should have officers and do the things the club is organized to do.
Well then you've invalidated one of my clubs.  We have regular meetings, but we have no club business and no officers.  We gather, taste beers, talk about beer and brewing (among other things), and go home.  It's a nice relaxed club, I've made good friends there.

But we have to be a club, right?  We have t-shirts. ;)
Maybe your club doesn't meet all my criteria, but it certainly meets the most important one- regular, physical meetings.
One of our members (the founder) hasn't been to a meeting in probably a year because he travels a lot for work now.  So his entries don't count?

I'm just playing devil's advocate, I see your point.  They are a very different kind of club, but that doesn't make them less of a club to me, or less worthy of winning.  They got the most points for making great beers, they should win.

How many years have they been trying?  This is their first success?  Maybe other clubs just need to try harder.  Brew Stronger. ;D
Tom Schmidlin