Big Brew with Your Homebrew Club

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sodz homebrew club big brew
SODZ members recieving wort from Columbus Brewing Co. (Photo from Columbus Brewin Co.)

By Jason Wing

Did you know there is a National Homebrew Day? 

The American Homebrewing Association (AHA) celebrates the joy of homebrewing each year by promoting Big Brew for National Homebrew Day on the first Saturday in May. 

As part of the event, the AHA announces two official Big Brew recipes with the intention for homebrewers worldwide to pledge to brew the same recipes. Of course, you can brew any recipe you want on Big Brew. It’s all good! What matters is being a part of a genuinely worldwide brew day.

This year’s Big Brew recipes are Tha CommUNITY American Lager and Dark Inception Imperial Porter. Both homebrew recipes not only create a delicious beer, but they also have great stories tied to them.

Brewers typically get together in kitchens and backyards, at homebrew shops and breweries, and with friends and homebrew club members.

Big Brew with SODZ

Allow me to set the Big Brew scene in Columbus, Ohio.

It’s a beautiful May morning, and members of the SODZ homebrew club are setting up their homebrew rigs in the parking lot of Columbus Brewing Company. Thermoses of coffee are in tow as we prepare kettles and fermenters for a special treat.

For Big Brew, Columbus Brewing hosts a “wort giveaway” where every homebrewer is provided wort from one of the official recipes. They mash a pro-sized batch, and homebrewers fill up their kettles to bring back to their homebrew setup for a boil. You can’t beat it!

At this point, homebrewers are switching from thermoses of coffee to beer samples. Homebrew sisterthren and brethren mosey to marvel at the different setups. You can be assured boil-overs are more prevalent than usual as backs are turned, but it’s nothing we can’t deal with! 

The brew day always feels like one of the quickest since you’re spending time talking with others and seeing the different setups we all use to turn wort into beer.

Get Your Club Involved

Your club could do the same! Ask around to your friendly neighborhood breweries. You may find one who is interested in participating and providing the wort. It’s fun for pro brewers as well! They get a recipe they haven’t brewed before, and they get to hang out and talk about beer setups with homebrewers. Needless to say, they make a few beer sales, too.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when coordinating with clubs and breweries:

  • Contact the brewery 2-3 months ahead of time to make sure you can get Big Brew on their schedule.
  • Request a water source you can connect a hose to for chilling purposes. Speaking of water, bring a hose splitter!
  • If you have electric brewer setups, ensure there are power hookups.
  • Determine the total amount of gallons that your homebrew club is likely to utilize. This can be done with things like Facebook polls and online forms. Provide the total amount of gallons to the brewery as soon as you can so they will know how big of a batch of wort to make.
  • Make sure your club members know to bring all the homebrewing gear they will need. In addition to your standard setup, some everyday items to add are a hose, a chair, a table, and a metal or plastic glass for homebrew sampling. 
  • Help your clubmate gets prepared. Remind people to bring all the gear they need, and maybe a little extra just in case. Beyond typical brewing gear, hoses, tables, chairs, and a metal/plastic glass for sampling are ideal. It’s also helpful when people come with their fermenters clean and sanitized ahead of time!

Make it Competitive

Another fun opportunity with Big Brew is turning it into a homebrew competition among your club. Have folks who participated bring in their Big Brew creations for a friendly competition at a club meeting or special event.

Whether formal judging or popular vote, it’s fun to add in some competition and follow up on your Big Brew day.

To get involved, head over to the Big Brew page! Pledge to brew and save $5 on an AHA membership!

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Jason Wing is an avid homebrewer and has been a board member of the Columbus Ohio based homebrew club SODZ for three years, serving as President for two of those years. He is a contributing writer for Zymurgy magazine. Jason also co-founded a craft beer appreciation group Have Another which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.