A homebrewers rally is a celebration of both a common passion and of friendship. This past Sunday I was lucky enough to attend one of these celebrations of brew and brewing.
I arrived at Heavy Seas a little before 2pm last Sunday. The day was as gorgeous as any day could be. The sun was shining, and the temperature was perfect. Was almost too nice to go into an industrial setting to drink beer. Almost.
An American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally is first and foremost a social gathering. Meant to bring together homebrew clubs and individual brewers alike to share what they are passionate about. But besides just a social event it is a way to make the homebrewing community stronger.
Many old friends unite, and many new friendships are made. This sense of community is one of the hallmarks of brewing. It starts with all of the collaborations craft brewers do, and extends to homebrewers helping one another with their own brewing. Sharing secrets of what makes their homebrew so good, or helping someone understand why their last brew turned out bad.
This sense of community also is shown by how homebrewers and commercial brewers stand by and help friends in the community. Last month, when Baltimore was getting pelted with torrential rain, Nepenthe Homebrew was decimated.
Nepenthe is situated right on the Jones Falls just outside of Hampden. When these rains caused flooding throughout the area, it damaged their store well beyond what insurance would cover. Since then they have sought the help of their customers, friends, and the brewing community.
The rally was another place that we could work to get Nepenthe on their feet. Heavy Seas was donating a (large) portion of every beer sold at the rally towards the restoration of Nepenthe. This was just a gesture of kindness, it was a gesture of community that we have come to expect in the brewing community.
But the day wasn’t just about raising money for a friend in need, it was about beer. Homebrew clubs from as far away as North Carolina came to show their craft and share in this community of beer.
There were a large collection of well crafted brews. From numerous IPAs, to Rauchbiers, to my favorite of the day an delicious Barleywine from the CRABS homebrew club.
My only disappointment through the day was the lack of representation from my homebrew club CSI. Not really that big of a deal, but Hugh Sission the founder of our host brewery Heavy Seas was also a founding member of Cross Street Irregulars.
While there was just a small contingency from my club, there were a lot of groups to speak with. Les White from the Free State Homebrewers Guild was there serving up delicious BBQ for everyone to snack on. Maryland Homebrew was there with some small items for sale, and information for those that weren’t familiar with their store. Although I would imagine everyone there was familiar with their store except for the out of town folks.
The day progressed with beers flowing smoothly down my throat while catching up with old friends, and making a couple new ones. One of my favorite parts was chatting with homebrewers that were looking for clubs to join. Not sure if they wanted to or not, the rally was a good way to showcase how nice it is to be a part of a larger group.
The afternoon concluded with a gathering to announce the winners of the homebrew competition that had been silently taking place while we were all imbibing. The winners were awarded trophies and prizes from both Heavy Seas and the AHA. What a great way to spend an afternoon.
If you would like to donate to the rebuilding of Nepenthe Homebrew you can visit their gofundme site here.
John Thompson is a beer enthusiast who began evangelizing craft beer a few years ago on his blog thehoplocal.com. John has been homebrewing sporadically for almost 20 years, and also is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. When not enjoying a cold malty beverage you will find John spending time with his spouse and two young children or working his day job in Financial Services Technology. Make sure to find John on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @TheHopLocal and Untapped. at : http://untappd.com/user/thehoplocal