The Brew Comes Home

Despite restrictions on homebrewing, and certain laws being lifted throughout states, it’s still an underground “cult” in many ways. Patricia Willers from The Sacramento Press recently released an article titled “Homebrew and friends” where she discussed the emerging growth of homebrew clubs.


A lot of the older stories in major craft brewing companies begins with homebrews, involving passionate individuals searching for a way to create a new taste. Here is a small excerpt from Willers’ recent article:


Although there has been some public discontent regarding the number of drinking establishments in certain areas of the city, there are other options for like-minded beer enthusiasts. One increasingly popular way to get your hands on some craft beer is to brew your own. The number of homebrew clubs is growing and still, there just aren’t enough.

There used to be two main groups in the Sacramento region, The Greenbelt Brewers Association and the Gold Country Brewers Association. These two clubs even had taps at some of the local beerfests the past few years, including the California Brewers Festival at Discovery Park and the Capital Beerfest during Sacramento Beer Week. (Unfortunately, due to stricter enforcement by Alcoholic Beverage Control, homebrew clubs are no longer able to pour at public beer festivals.)

Recently, I heard some rather amazing news about the growing size of homebrew clubs. The Greenbelt Brewers Association, which meets at Sudwerk the third Tuesday of every month, is now so big that they have to use a microphone during meetings—not exactly the situation at your stereotypical homebrew club meeting.

Despite the large number of members, Greenbelt is still an alluring club to join. They have unbelievably organized monthly meetings and an up-to-date website. Their schedule is set months in advance, just so you know whether this month you will be learning about cask ales or the characteristics of water used for brewing. The topics really are this specific; their meeting notes alone are worth checking out. Greenbelt also hosts a competition each year in collaboration with Berryessa Brewing Company and the Elk Grove Brewers Guild.

What if you’re not interested in large, conference-style homebrew meetings and want to have someone there with you to take you through the first time or two? What is one to do?

Well, the same thing that other enthusiastic brewers in the area have done—create your own club.

The UnderGroundBrewSquad did just this. This group of brewers – some veteran, some just digging in – meets to brew, taste and hang out.

“The UnderGroundBrewSquad’s foundation is based on three elements: educating, creating, and having fun while participating,” said co-founder Rodg Little. “Sticking to the foundation provides comfort.”

According to co-founder Mike Brennan, things are going well and they will soon be registered as an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) club.

“Our club truly centers around enthusiasm for the craft. Not only do we arrange brew days and tasting days at each others’ houses, we try to immerse in west coast beer culture. We have our meetings at a different microbrewery each month, and our members blog about their visits to breweries around California and Oregon,” Brennan said.

UGBS is planning to make their next meeting a “Big Beers” day. They will all be brewing high-gravity beers with an original gravity of over 1.072 – meaning that the beers will have a fairly high alcohol content, upwards of 8 or 9 percent ABV, possibly higher.

“Many of these styles age well,” explained Brennan, “and some of them will become the beers we’ll pour for the holidays. I’m looking to procure a used red wine barrel and have a group of us brew the same beer and cask age it.”

The UnderGroundBrewSquad works closely with BFD (Brew Ferment Distill) for equipment, ingredients and advice. A strong connection with a brewing supply store is always a good sign and the mark of a good homebrewing club. The group is small, tight-knit, and as Brennan mentioned, maintains a nice blog. Note of caution, you’d better have a good, beer-related alias ready if you’re planning to join up with the UnderGroundBrewSquad.


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