As a leader in your homebrew club, you may be responsible for developing educational content for club meetings. There are only so many club members and local craft brewers you can call on to give presentations, so it can be difficult to keep meeting topics fresh and engaging. Here are 12 ideas for incorporating new content into your club meetings.
1. Invite the AHA to Present to the Club
If your meeting venue has access to the necessary equipment, American Homebrewers Association staff are happy to give a webinar presentation to your club about the AHA’s work to promote and protect the hobby. An AHA staff member will cover the benefits of AHA membership, relate some history of homebrewing in the US, and offer insight into current trends in the hobby. To schedule a presentation from the AHA to your club, please email Matt Bolling, AHA event planner.
2. Keep It Local
Bert Lightle of ZZ Hops Homebrew Club in Kansas City, Mo., contacted local culinary celebrity and James Beard Award–winning chef Celina Tio of JULIAN to attend their Big Brew event at Boulevard Brewing Co. in 2016.
“Beer and food are tied so closely together; it was great to bring our two worlds together. There’s lots of good chefs all over the country who like beer and would be interested in partnering with your club event, guaranteed,” Bert told us. “Don’t be afraid to ask! I got in contact with Chef Tio through Twitter. She loved the event and is now a great friend of the club.”
If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in an area with an award-winning chef, there are still plenty of people worth contacting. You could see if your municipal water authority is willing to talk about your county’s water (or even guide a tour the facility), or you can ask your local news outlets to send a reporter to your meetings to generate publicity.
3. Turn Your Meetings into Trivia
The AHA regularly publishes Tuesday Beer Trivia, with five questions about homebrewing and beer topics. Clubs are welcome to repurpose these trivia questions at meetings. The questions are always answered and explained and are great fodder to start beery-conversations at your meetings. If your club meetings are generally small affairs, members can answer individually, but if your meetings are large, you can break into teams. Rules for scoring and points are up to you!
4. Dig into the AHA’s Homebrew Con Archives
There are more than 430 Homebrew Con presentations in the AHA’s archive. If you’re looking for someone to present at your next meeting, why not take your pick from Gordon Strong or John Palmer? Screening a presentation from the Homebrew Con archives at your next meeting is an easy way to offer world-class educational content to your club members.
5. Bring a Friend
Many club meetings follow a similar format: a brief tasting/sharing of members’ homebrew, followed by agenda items. A fun way to put a twist on that format is to ask attendees to bring one friend to a specific meeting. It could be a friend who doesn’t homebrew (yet!), a significant other, or a neighbor. A friend of a member is a friend of the club!
6. Host a Joint Club Meeting
If there is another homebrew club in your area (or within driving distance), invite their members to your meeting. Or, better yet, crash their meeting! If your homebrew club is the only one around, you could partner with other hobbyist groups that meet regularly (think woodworkers guilds, Lions Clubs, photography clubs, etc.).
7. Host an Equipment Swap
Invite your members to trade equipment at a meeting. It could be an entire mash tun that isn’t being used, a weathered copy of How To Brew that can be passed on, or even just a few pint glasses from your local small and independent craft brewer.
Whether they upgraded for better equipment or have changed their process, most homebrewers have a cabinet (or maybe a whole basement!) full of gadgets they no longer use on brew day. Inviting your members to bring some of that unused gear to a meeting for an equipment swap and/or sale is an easy theme everyone can get behind.
8. Guess the Beer
This easy-to-implement game might not fill an entire meeting, but it’s certainly a fun way to educate club members. Simply provide each attendee a sample of beer—preferably a commercial example of a classic style—and a sheet to guess each category.
- Guess the style (1 point)
- Guess the ABV (1 point)
- Guess the SRM (1 point)
- Guess the exact beer/brewery (3 points)
9. Get Your Club Members TIPS Certified
If the club is ever asked to help serve beer at festivals, it’s a good idea to ensure your members are all TIPS trained. The Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) program is a commonly used certification program for alcohol industry professionals. The training program is designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking by enhancing the fundamental “people skills” of alcohol servers.
10. Sponsor a Toy, Clothing, or Food Drive
Community service is a pillar of the AHA’s annual Radgeast Club of the Year Award. Each year, the AHA receives dozens of applications from clubs that are doing amazing work in their communities. Your club doesn’t have to be a Radegast winner to make a great impact, though. Simply designating your meetings as a drop-off point for a coat drive, food drive, or holiday toy drive, helps your members give back to the community they love.
11. Screen For the Love of Craft
For the Love of Craft is a documentary short produced by the Brewers Association, Studio C3, and American Homebrewers Association founder Charlie Papazian. In the documentary, Charlie interviews craft beer pioneers and trailblazers about the early days of the craft beer movement. The film is only 23 minutes long and features compelling stories of the beer landscape in America from the perspective of a multitude of craft beer luminaries. Your club can request a screening date of For The Love of Craft through the Brewers Association.
12. Consider Non-Beer Themed Meetings (Gasp!)
I know, I know, … but c’mon. Don’t you get tired of beer every once in a while? No? Well, here are some great non-beer activities you can build a meeting around if you feel like taking a break from beer.
- Trivia night
- Boardgame night
- Poker, bocce, billiards, cornhole tournaments
- Outings to local sports teams
- Family-friendly outings: mini-golf, batting cages, etc.