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 thoughts on “Home Brew Social”

  1. 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.

  2. 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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