I work with a guy who belongs to a brew club and he told me to check it out sometime, but when I looked into it more online, it seemed to have a heavy concentration on home brewing which I am not looking to get into (quite yet).
That left me with the same option that I always seem to face when I'm looking for something that doesn't exist - start it myself. I have a pretty decent home bar that seats around 10 people quite nicely. I do the research on beers and buy them anyway. Why not find some of those outside the beer box friends of mine and get something going?
Beer Club was born.
I've heard about the beer tasting parties where everybody shows up and brings a six pack and everybody tastes the different beers either blindly or otherwise and then either rate the beers or just rank them and it's a good old time. I like the concept, but my fear about doing something like that is you'd wind up with three people bringing a six pack of Summit, two bringing a four pack of Surly and then a couple random other beers.
I wanted to be able to come up with a theme, to put like beers against each other, to make sure there was a revolving style of beers so that we had variety every month. I figured the easiest way to do that would be to make myself quasi-dictator (I put quasi in front of that in case any Beer Club members are reading this). I decided that I'd pick the style of beer for the month and then do some research, talk to some of those in the know, get some input from the Beer Club members and go buy the lineup beers for everybody to try on the third Monday of every month (Monday being chosen so that we can watch some football during a third of the year).
I thought that this strategy would accomplish a few things. First, it would eliminate the "too many chefs" syndrome. Second, it would allow for some consistency as to what we're trying and hopefully set up a good variety of styles and avoid IPA month 7 months out of the year. Lastly, I wanted to make it as easy as possible since everybody is so busy and not everybody has the time nor the inclination that I do to set this up. My hope was that if all people had to do was show up once a month with a $10 bill to put in the Beer Club fund it would make it less tempting to skip than if they had to figure out what to bring and then go buy it.
I set up a Beer Club group on my Ning website, explained my intentions and baited the hook. I tried to spark a few debates and planned the first meeting to be in September. I got some nibbles and reeled some guys in and started planning. We tossed around some clever names for our group (I really liked the Arrogant Bastards after Stone's notorious beer but ended up going that route with this blog instead) but since none of them hashed out, I think Beer Club has just stuck. I figured with us guys getting together underground just like Tyler Durden to escape our normal lives it was a little fitting (OK, so my bar is only halfway underground, big deal).
I decided that with the first meeting taking place in September, it would be a perfect month to plan an Oktoberfest theme especially it would be only two days after Surlyfest. As the time towards beer club ticked down I realized it was a wise decision because website after website, email after email and Tweet after Tweet was pimping the new Oktoberfest that showed up in liquor stores across the Twin Cities.
My plan was to have roughly 6-8 different beers for everybody to try but with Oktoberfests being a bit cheaper than I expected and some last minute donations, the lineup was set at ten different brews as the first meeting approached. It was a little rough to get people mobilized but I had heard from enough people to decide that it was a go.
So the stage was set, the players were chosen and we were ready to go.
We'll find out in the next post if my plan worked out. Stay tuned....
(how can you go wrong with a lineup with this?)