Sunday, August 2, 2015

American Homebrewers Association Rally - Community Beer Co. 2015

This past weekend was the AHA's local rally for homebrewers in the North Texas area, held at the best of Big D's Favorite Brewery, Community Beer Company. The event was free to AHA members and designated drivers, and it featured exhibits from our favorite local homebrew shops (LHBS) and great beer on tap from Community.

We were fortunate enough to talk with a few homebrewers from across the Metroplex. We stopped off with a couple of folks relatively fresh-in from Lubbock, TX, where the craft market has been slowly but surely taking hold. Now that they are in the MetroMarket, they can finally explore their passion for Texas cider and mead from many favorites such as Bishop Cider Co., Leprechaun Cider, & Meridian Hive.

Aside from general elbow bumping and great Community beer, the AHA was well-represented by volunteers who were happy to pour a pint, conduct a well-stocked raffle, and sign-up the uninitiated beer lover at the door. Though the event was free to AHA members, visitors were offered the option to become one of the newest proud members of the American Homebrewers Association. You, too could become a member of the AHA at this very moment! Visit and for the cost of one batch of high quality homebrew, you will be adopted into an amazing community that furthers the cause of the American homebrewer while protecting our rights and ensuring a future for the hobby. Always mindful, the AHA allowed all designated drivers free admittance to the rally so that we, the brewing few, made it home safely to brew another day.

All entrants were granted 1 raffle ticket for a plethora of pinatas prizes sponsored by our beloved LHBS's. They included nifty AHA ball caps, various brewing books and publications including the standards (John Palmer's How to Brew and Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing), and the grand prize was a stainless steel brew kettle from Texas Brewing Inc. equipped with a brewmometer, ball valve, and volume markings for a quick and efficient brew session. Though yours truly didn't win (despite both Amanda and I entering the raffle, being AHA members), those who captured the door prizes left better brewers than when they came in.

Texas Brewing Inc. has a fine selection of brew kettles
 and everything else you need for your brew day
We lucky few were also granted a VIP tour of the Community brewery facilities. Our tour guide discussed the various elements comprising the state-of-the-art processes employed by Community to churn out the beer we have all come to know and love. Many fellow homebrewers asked excellent questions and received in-depth answers, lending to the overall helpful and friendly atmosphere of the entire event. 

Community Beer Company's great brew house
One topic that caught our attention was how our tour guide came to find brewing as his calling. He actually holds a degree in the finance realm, but after a few years werkin' fer th' man, he decided his interests laid elsewhere. He volunteered at several breweries before being employed as assistant brewer in not one, but two local craft breweries in Missouri. Upon his return to Texas, he volunteered at Community one weekend, and was hired the next.

The point that really hit home was his discussion regarding what he was willing to do for the profession. Ask any homebrewer worth his or her salt what they'd rather be doing, and you're likely to receive an answer resembling, "Brewing damn good beer for a livin', by Gawd." True enough, but once one looks into the prospect of becoming a full-time brewer, one may become easily overwhelmed by the time, effort, and physical commitment necessary to hold down a full-time brewing gig. For starters, read Tony Magee's So You Want to Start a Brewery.

We at New Main have extensively explored the option of bucking up and opening our own damn place. Aside from astronomical investment capital requirements, absurdly long hours, and a relatively high cost of start-up, craft beer is not a marketplace for the weak-spirited.

What really spoke to us was when the tour guide leveled with the intimate crowd of homebrewers and admitted after attempting to maintain multiple part-time jobs to keep up his lifestyle, he finally consented to lowering his standard of living. The craft beer industry rewards those who persevere, but one invests significant time and sweat-equity in the industry before accepting meaningful gains. In short, don't expect magnificent riches for a small amount of work. If the work is not reward enough to span the gap between your current salary and your commercial brewing income, keep your day job.

This challenge encourages those of us made of stronger stuff to really pursue our goals. We at New Main may be alone, but we believe the chief accomplishment one obtains as a homebrewer is turning out great beer for our friends and family to enjoy, time after time. Competitions help objectively separate those who know their stuff from those who have extensively sampled their own stock and kept the status quo. The real measure of a great homebrewer is their passion for what they do. Homebrewing is a great hobby. We love it. But a great homebrewer is made of the stuff that drives us to improve from batch to batch. A great brewer is someone dedicated to making each pint better than the last. A great homebrewed beer is one that has been fussed over, brewed the hard way, and absolutely been taken seriously from grain to glass. We consider it a high honor to keep supplying great beer to those of you asking for it.

Today's Main Break: The AHA hosts rallies across America to encourage homebrewers to meet up, drink some great beer, and talk with the professionals in their local craft beer markets. If you want to find a rally near you, check the AHA website for a list of upcoming events!

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