Joe Darden


The following statement was prepared by the candidate, and the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA).

To access all candidate statements and the voting ballot, visit the 2022 AHA Governing Committee Election page.

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In 2001, my neighbor offered me one of his homebrews.  My only previous experience with homebrew was sneaking a taste of actively fermenting wine from a friend’s garage, so my expectations were low.  Surprised by the incredible quality (it was a Pale Ale), I was instantly fascinated with the hobby.  Under the tutelage of the late great Greg “Griz” Miller (owner of the SF Brewcraft Homebrew Shop in San Francisco, CA), I began my homebrewing journey.  

When I moved to the Washington DC area in 2007, my gear traveled with me as did my love for brewing.  I had never been a member of a homebrew club, but saw the value in it.  So when I moved to the area my search for a local club began. When I learned that there was no local club to join, I connected with a few like-minded brewers to launch the 50 West Homebrew Club.  While getting the club started, we collaborated with some of the other clubs in the area (HOWL, DC Homebrewers, DOH). 

My experiences collaborating with fellow homebrewers coupled with the knowledge I have gained from American Homebrewers Association’s resources have dramatically improved my brewing and expanded my horizons.  I am now a BJCP Judge, Cicerone and I have expanded my fermentation journey to include wild sourdough, sauerkraut, kombucha, makgeolli, koji, shoyu, hard cider, mead and basically any fruit/vegetable I can get my hands on.  Griz instilled in me the idea that every time you brew/ferment, you learn something new, and what you learn isn’t necessarily always about brewing.  In 20 years I have brewed over 300 batches, quite an inspired journey with many lessons learned along the way.  I would love nothing more than to continue that journey by serving the broader homebrewing community and representing the craft as a member of the AHA Governing Committee.

One of the issues that I would like to take on with the Governing Committee is to reinvigorate the hobby.  Many Clubs have seen membership engagement drop off due to COVID, and many brewers have even take a break from brewing.  The AHA should be a resource to Homebrew Clubs to help engage members, increase membership and expand the hobby.  The important issues and perspectives I bring to the AHA Governing Committee are an understanding of the overall homebrew community (homebrewers, local homebrew shops, brewery startups, etc.) as well as demonstrating experience tackling the challenges of starting up a new club: membership (managing, growing, engaging), dealing with ABC licensing, starting a competition and increasing participation.  Just like any homebrewer I have dumped batches, made mistakes, bought way too much equipment (wait, I take that back, there’s no such thing as way too much equipment . . . just don’t tell my wife I said that), checked in more than my fair share of beers on Untapp’d, had a few gadgets featured in the Gadget Issue of Zymurgy, made some really great friendships and even managed to win a few awards along the way.