Supporting Community Homebrewers


Jamil Zainasheff has his heart, like most professional brewers, in homebrewing. An author of two books along with being on a popular podcast as a part of The Brewing Network, Zainasheff is no stranger with homebrewers.

Now, with his Heretic Brewing in Fairfield, California, the veteran homebrewer-turned pro has welcomed his amateur brethren into his brewery twice as a part of the American Homebrewers Association’s rallies. Free to members of the AHA, rallies run up to three times a month throughout breweries in the U.S.

“It was just a great way to support the AHA,” Zainasheff said. “I’m a big fan and supporter of homebrewing and I wanted to do something to benefit the AHA.”

Heretic hosted its most recent AHA rally on Oct. 10, 2015 and Zainasheff said it was another spectacular event, filled with giveaways, raffles, beer and brewing discussions.

“I tell people during the event it’s very much like hanging out in the garage with a bunch of homebrew friends and neighbors,” Zainasheff said. “Drinking beer, talking about brewing. [Homebrewers] have a pint in hand, wander around the brewery and they have a good time. It’s a great crowd.”

He pointed out that compared to say a general populace, a homebrewer crowd is much more respectful of the environment. “Nothing gets broken, stolen, there is no mess left behind,” he said. “They stay and help clean up and anything I didn’t want people to touch, I put some caution tape up and they stayed away. It’s a well-behaved crowd that really seems to ‘get it.’”

After a successful showing the first time the 30-barrel brewhouse hosted an event like this, this time Heretic added a chance for homebrewers to compete. Heretic brewed up 1,000 gallons of wort and White Labs provided yeast to 200 brewers to come and take home five gallons each to make into their own creation. Those 200 brewers entered a contest at Heretic, hosted by the AHA, in November.

“Homebrewers have a lot of creativity,” Zainasheff said. “They really do have a lot of great ideas and try a lot of different things and you would be surprised by hanging out and finding out what they do and how they do it.

“Some pros may get a little bit bent out of shape with homebrewers, but you have to remember that homebrewers are someone that are very passionate about the craft. They don’t make money off it, they do it because they love it. It’s one of the best things in the world. If you open your mind to listen you can learn a lot.”

Zainasheff would recommend any brewery that is thinking of hosting an AHA rally to jump in. He said the AHA is very receptive to helping get things set up and find volunteers to help.

“For us, we just had to move a few things around the warehouse and have a place to gather and some tables to serve beer,” Zainasheff said.

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