This is a good topic.
People have been expressing their "concerns" about internet and forum clubs for some time now.
The main thing clubs need to provide is educating members on how to make good beer. The second thing is to promote the hobby. I think The Brewing Network Homebrew Club does both of these things very well.
Talked with Justin at length after the awards Saturday night. The Brewing Network Club operates separately from the main portion of the TBN. They hold meetings and share information just like any other club.
They are a club, they won club of the year, and they deserve it, just as much as any club who won it before them. It's not an easy task, trust me. It takes dedication of the members and a ton of good entries, and even more luck!!! They should be proud, happy and still celebrating the victory.
Yeah, Gordon lives a few hundred miles from St. Paul. Jamil lives a few hundred miles from San Diego. But that didn't make them any less valuable to the clubs they belong to. Sharing information and helping other members brew better beer is what makes a member important to the club. The awards they win are secondary in my opinion. Gordon has participated in more SPHBC meetings than many of our local members. I know these two guys very well. They have added value to multiple clubs, not just the ones they enter competitions under.
If you really want to look at the numbers, St. Paul would have won two of the three COTYs without Gordon's points. That said, we might not have won without his input.
The thing we learned, and were warned about, in regards to COTY, people will say something isn't fair and complain about it. And some other club will undoubtedly come after it!