After four years of keeping it casual, Christchurch’s home brewers have decided to make it official.
Christchurch Home Brewers Club has formed a non-profit club, to be launched this Sunday, following years of meeting as a Facebook group.
“We wanted to get some official status so we can run more events,” says club treasurer Rob Hough. “That first meeting four years ago had four people. Last week we had fifty people at the meeting and the Facebook group has more than 700 members.”
Rob says club members brew a wide range of beer on a variety of gear. Sours and funky Brettanomyces beers are popular, and some members have chipped in to start a barrel-aging programme. “We sour 200L at a time and share that between seven of us. We’re just about to take out the second batch now.”
Club founder and president Paul Finney says many members have gone on to commercial brewing, typically through Christchurch’s thriving contract brewing scene.
“It’s so much easier to go commercial these days. Christchurch has Stainless Steel Brewing, which is a purely contract brewery, plus opportunities with Harrington’s, Twisted Hop and the others. So it’s easy to take the first step into commercial brewing, and who knows where it will take you.”
Paul owns Finney’s Brewing Emporium and brews commercially as Emporium Brewing. He rattles off a long list of other commercial breweries with roots in the Home Brew Club – Ghost, Two Thumb, Maltkult, Vulcan, Yellow Box, Concept Brewing and The Nuts.
“As a club we’ve been quite strong in competitions. We have good brewers and they are starting to move into the smaller commercial breweries. In New Zealand there’s not many places where you can go and study brewing, so home brewing is where the next group of brewers is coming from. A lot of the brewers in Christchurch are employing people who came through home brewing – those small one-man-bands are starting to grow and there’s room to work there and learn a lot more.”
The official Christchurch Home Brew Club launch party is this Sunday 1 May at Two Thumb Brewing, 352 Manchester St, from 2pm. “We’re making 800L of pale ale wort,” says Bob. “Members can buy 20L then we’ll have a small competition to see what people have come up with with the wort. Get the creative juices flowing!”