Home Brew Social

Illustration: home brewing hydrometer.

Last Friday, we took a train up to Truro and paid £5 each to spend the evening hanging out with other home brewers at an event organised by the Beer Cellar.

In what must be going on for ten years of making beer at home, we have never once taken the step of meeting up with other amateur brewers, though we’ve often thought about it. What held us back was the assumption that we would find a room full of blokes twenty years older than us, who knew more than us, and would want to make sure we knew it.

Approaching the Hub Boat — a half-renovated restaurant-cum-party barge moored on Lemon Quay in the centre of Truro — we were relieved to observe through the brightly illuminated picture windows that we wouldn’t be the youngest in attendance, and that the crowd was, though mostly male, not exclusively so.

Inside, we found two demonstrations by Granite Rock underway — mashing and brewing from extract — and a table full of bottles of home brew, to which we added the only brew we have ready(ish) to drink: a Belgian-style Tripel fermented with dried Witbier yeast procured as a back-up when a ‘proper’ yeast starter failed.

Joe from Penpont, the local brewery with connections to the Beer Cellar, was on hand to dish out samples of his ‘An Howl’, with and without dry-hopping, which helped loosen everyone up. Initial awkwardness passed fairly quickly, and we found ourselves talking hops, yeast and sparging techniques with other people who don’t think those are tragically boring topics for conversation.

Our beer was received politely but without enthusiasm by our fellow brewers, most of whom seemed to think it was a bit strong, but ‘interesting’. (Not very nice.) It isn’t, to be fair, our best effort. For our part, we were thankfully able to tell people to their faces without lying that we liked their beers. The best was probably a BrewDog Hardcore IPA clone which was exactly like Hardcore IPA.

One person probed for more detailed feedback, which we gave him, and then regretted, but then what’s the point in fibbing or being fibbed to?

As the evening went on, we identified a few sub-groups. Some were serious enough to have printed labels and a ‘brand’, and clearly intended to go pro at some point, while others had never brewed anything before and wanted to size up the hobby. In the middle were a bunch of keen amateurs like us.

Our favourite attendees, though, were the baby-faced contingent from Falmouth University’s nascent home brewing society. They’d made a technically very decent honey beer and seemed hungry for knowledge.

We’ll definitely go again, hopefully with more and better beer to share, and fewer social anxieties.

4 replies on “Home Brew Social”

Interesting post, thanks. Good to hear about both the demonstration aspect and the sampling of different versions of a commercial beer that went on. Those would make it well worth the entry fee for me.

I have recently started attending my local ‘home brew club’ and it’s been nothing but a positive experience. Opportunity to meet a friendly bunch of people, get honest but supportive feedback on beers and taste some really interesting stuff brewed by others. As a novice, it’s proving a great resource. And a cheap night out.

It’s been all male on my two appearances but, being in my (kind of) mid-30s, I’m very much at the older end of things. Lots of people much younger than me brewing some serious beers. And some intriguingly silly beers too. People there seem to be at different stages and on different trajectories too, but everyone gets on very well after half an hour of speed sampling.

Thanks to @Brewstore for organising it (i.e. putting up with us trashing their shop) every month.

As someone who has been going to one of these more or less every month for the last six years, my experience is that people with printed labels and a brand are more likely to be knockabout messers. Serious and talented home brewers are less likely to bother.

I have printed labels and a brand.

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