2024 American Homebrewers Association Overview

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AHA Executive Director Julia Herz bottling beer

The following is AHA Executive Director Julia Herz’s column from the March/April 2024 Zymurgy magazine.

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is dedicated to protecting, uniting, and educating homebrewers while empowering an equitable homebrewing culture and showcasing the fun of fermenting. More than thirty thousand members, yourself included, benefit from unmatched reasons and rewards to brew.

Exclusive to members, we publish Zymurgy Magazine (Zymurgy celebrates AHA members and educates those who want to brew and ferment) and broadcast Zymurgy Live webinars featuring the world’s top homebrewing leaders. We curate robust member discounts at brewery tap rooms and homebrew supply shops via over two thousand Member Deals, publish top-of-class resources on homebrewing for beginners and the advanced via HomebrewersAssociation.org, curate an ongoing club insurance program, maintain the world’s most extensive homebrew club and retail supply shop online directories and host one of the longest standing online homebrew forums, called the AHA Forum. Ongoing, we offer presentations from our Executive Director and have a team devoted to assisting members with any account questions.

Annually, we host the world’s largest homebrew competition, the National Homebrew Competition (February 27 to March 15, 2024 is the entry registration deadline!), and the annual gathering of AHA members (October 10–12 in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival), the GABF Pro-Am Competition, in which competition-winning amateur brewers collaborate with craft brewers to win medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and present annual recognition awards including Homebrew Shop of the Year and several others.

We host the annual homebrew holidays Big Brew (May 4, 2024), Home Fermentation Day (August 3, 2024), and Learn To Homebrew Day (November 2, 2024). We also sanction homebrew competitions with the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and encourage homebrewers to enter steward and judge in competitions; plus, we support a prize donation program for sanctioned competitions.

We advocate for the advancement of homebrewers’ rights and privileges, including ongoing work to legalize homebrew shipping for competitions. The AHA helped ensure homebrewing was legalized in all 50 states, and today, we stand ready to assist unified efforts of homebrew clubs and state brewers’ guilds.

Here is a summary of the AHA’s celebrated history—one that your membership fueled.

American Homebrewers Association History

Charlie Papazian, American Homebrewers Association Founder (ca. 1986)
  • January 17, 1920: Prohibition begins as the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • December 5, 1933: The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, however it left out the legalization of home beer making (home wine making was legalized at that time).
  • October 14, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signs H.R. 1337, creating an exemption from taxation of beer brewed at home for personal or family use.
  • December 7, 1978: The AHA is founded by Charlie Papazian and Charlie Matzen in Boulder, Colo. with the publication of the first issue of Zymurgy magazine.
  • February 1, 1979: Homebrewing becomes legal on a federal level in the U.S.
  • May 5, 1979: AHA holds its first-ever National Homebrew Competition and Gala Homebrewers Ball.
  • September 1, 1982: AHA debuts the GABF as part of the AHA‘s fourth annual conference for homebrewers.
  • 1985: The AHA and Home Wine and Beer Trade Association (HWBTA) create the Beer Judge Certification Program.
  • May 2, 1988: Representative David Skaggs of Colorado declares May 7th as National Homebrew Day before U.S. Congress. In response, the AHA created ‘Big Brew’ as an annual event to celebrate National Homebrew Day worldwide.
  • September 1992: The organization’s name is updated to Association of Brewers.
  • December 1998: The determination of the Association of Brewers (also representing the AHA) evolves to a 501(c)(6) from a 501(c)(3), setting the stage to fuel and grow today’s modern-day independent craft beer movement.
  • November 1999: Learn To Homebrew Day is established.
  • 2005: Association of Brewers and Brewers Association of America join to form the Brewers Association (as published in the March/April 2005 Zymurgy) “Under the new Brewers Association bylaws, the AHA Board of Advisors has been renamed the AHA Governing Committee.”
  • May 31, 2005: The AHA introduces the GABF Pro-Am competition, in which AHA members team up with professional brewers to compete with their award-winning recipes.
  • 2013: Alabama and Mississippi legalize homebrewing, officially making homebrew legal in all 50 states.
  • August 2023: The first annual Home Fermentation Day, formerly Mead Day, debuts.
  • December 7, 2023: The AHA turns 45 with over thirty thousand members from around the world.
The first issue of Zymurgy magazine was published in 1978.

Governance Today

The AHA is the world’s leading individual homebrewer’s community, part of the 501(c)(6) Brewers Association, and is proud of its role as a catalyst for today’s full-flavored craft beer movement. It is supported by a committee of volunteer leaders. In December 2023, the BA approved BA bylaw revisions and reduced its board size. The AHA committee is now governed under the same structure as all the other BA committees.  A summary of changes related to the AHA was published on HomebrewersAssociation.org on January 23 and can be viewed here. The revisions modernize the AHA’s status, whereas the previous structure stemmed from when AHA was a standalone organization. AHA membership services and benefits were not affected by these changes.

2024 AHA Committee

The AHA committee supports homebrewing, the health of the AHA, and is responsible for supporting AHA awareness, and support of member resources, AHA membership advocacy, and membership growth.

The Events and Education subcommittee brings together AHA member leaders to provide input and support for AHA-driven events and educational offerings for the purpose of increasing member value and retention.

The BA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee is currently co-chaired by an AHA representative, giving AHA members an expanded voice in organizational DEI work and resources.

Committee and subcommittee participation is voluntary. For those interested in reviewing the committee charter, volunteer commitment, vetting, and onboarding requirements, see here.

We are proud and honored to deliver ongoing reasons and rewards to brew and ferment, and your membership gives you access to unmatched benefits. Thank YOU for being a part of this extraordinary community.

Julia Herz is executive director of the American Homebrewers Association. You can follow Julia’s homebrew talks and travels on Instagram @ImmaculateFermentation.

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