Every year, the American Homebrewers Association confers the Radegast Club of the Year Award to acknowledge one club’s efforts to better their local community through the power of homebrewing and beer.
We’re excited to announce that the 2019 Radegast Club of the Year recipients are QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity) from San Diego, Calif.!
Read an excerpt from the proposal that earned QUAFF the illustrious award and a $1,000 prize to be split between the club and a local charity of their choice. Download their full proposal to get a look inside the inner workings of one of the nation’s most successful homebrew clubs.
by Doug Brown, QUAFF Vice President
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!
—Edgar Allan Poe
To many folks, the Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity—better known as QUAFF—is just that homebrew club from San Diego that wins all the time in the National Homebrew Competition (NHC). To others, QUAFF is that club that seems to constantly spawn off a bunch of professional brewers. While it’s true that we’re proud of our club’s good fortune in competitions, and we believe that providing a platform for people to pursue their homebrewing passion professionally is a noble endeavor, these accolades and commercial success stories represent only a taste (a sip?) of what being in QUAFF (quaffing?) is all about.
QUAFF was founded in 1989, with roots that trace to the beginnings of the craft brewing scene in San Diego, and from there helped kick start the San Diego craft brewing revolution. As we spend 2019 celebrating QUAFF’s 30th anniversary, what stands out as special about our club throughout its history is its boundless enthusiasm for our shared passion: homebrew. This genuine love of homebrewing is the unifying thread that runs through QUAFF’s past, present, and future, and defines the spirit of our club more than anything else. On this, our actions speak far more loudly than words.
Compiling highlights of QUAFF’s activities was, for this reason, more than a bit overwhelming. There is so much energy and activity surrounding homebrew and craft beer in San Diego County, and QUAFF has its hands in so much of it, that it can be hard to keep track of it all. Here are a few appetite-whetting highlights:
QUAFF has dedicated itself in recent years to breaking international borders with beer, engaging in a multi-pronged effort to seed communities of BJCP judges in Mexico, to teach Mexican homebrewers, and to build relationships with our homebrewing friends across the US-Mexico border.
When a QUAFF member’s nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, we rallied to turn the malt we won as the 2017 NHC Homebrew Club of the Year into a charity brew that, in conjunction with local breweries and craft beer venues, raised over $15,000 to the cause. When that member’s daughter succeeded in her fight against cancer, we recommitted to turn the malt we won as the 2018 Homebrew Club of the Year into an even larger charity brew in order to raise over $20,000 for other children and families who are fighting the disease.
QUAFF remains ceaselessly engaged with the AHA, the Brewers Association, San Diego’s Del Mar Fair and International Beer Fest, the San Diego Maker Faire, homebrew clubs throughout Southern California, and countless others to relentlessly promote the hobby of homebrewing.
Our club’s culture revolves around exploring, sharing, and teaching, premised on the belief that collectively we are far better able to advance our community’s understanding and appreciation of homebrewing when we work collaboratively. Reflecting this fact, QUAFF members have built the largest community of high-ranking BJCP judges in the world; have had at least 17 different club members present seminars at Homebrew Con in the last four years; participate in guiding all three of the brewing certification programs in San Diego County; regularly contribute to several local and national craft beer publications; and have fostered strong, symbiotic relationships with commercial brewers who share lessons and advice with the homebrewers in our club.
To be sure, we also like to get together, share beer, and have fun in ways that probably fall more neatly into the category of “general awesomeness” than anything else. Club members and our tireless events coordinator have made sure that our social calendars are packed with merriment, from our yearly offshore fishing trips, to group bus tours to visit the breweries of Orange County, to a coordinated club whiskey project with San Diego Distillery via which about 40 club members each brewed the same recipe at home in order to collectively produce about 200 gallons of beer that we distilled into a QUAFF 30th anniversary commemorative spirit (which we’ll enjoy at the end of the year). The recent QUAFF 30th Anniversary Party, which brought together well over 100 members past and present for a night of nostalgia and camaraderie, was also a thrill.
TL;DR: We’re a big club, and we strive to make a big impact.