Between sixth and seventh grade I moved and switched schools. With a July birthday, this of course meant I invited my new school friends and my old faithful few. It was a typical middle school birthday party at a bowling alley with pizza and cake. All was fine and dandy until I realized my new and old friends didn't mesh. Now that I’m a married adult, it’s a recurring worry of mine to balance spending time with my married friends, college friends, high school friends, my gal pals and those with little babes. Having found ourselves in this conundrum with a love for beer and our beer-loving friends, my husband and I decided that if there can be clubs about books, then there can be clubs about beer. Thus, beer club was born.
We created beer club with the premise that anyone regardless of expertise—from the craft beer newbies to the connoisseurs—can join; they just have to be interested in expanding their beer palates. Each person comes with either one 22-ounce bottle or 2–3 regular 12-ounce beers to share with the group. Essentially, we get to try a handful of beers before we buy them with the added bonus of spending time with our assortment of friends in one neat monthly meeting. With any gathering of course comes the grub, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Here’s a quick rundown of our first beer club meeting:
Right when guests walked in the front door, they were welcomed and instructed via chalkboard: Grab a glass and get to snackin’. While chatting with the first few guests in the kitchen, we waited for the last few to trickle in. My husband then rounded up our pals to introduce themselves, present the beer they brought and why, as well as explain what it tastes like. We migrated over to the living room where all the snacks were set up, and we nonchalantly sampled the beers and commented as we nibbled for a couple hours. A craft beer newbie friend of ours found himself liking most of the beers, and I even found myself leaning toward a few I wouldn’t normally reach for. Easy peasy.
Here are a few nifty tips to starting a beer club:
Set a reasonable meeting time. Since the host provides snacks—though I go a little overboard—your beer club members might want to have an actual dinner after working a 9-to-5. Everyone loves their time on the weekend, and since weekly is too much of a commitment for some, we set meetings to every third Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Create themes. Themes just make everything fun! January’s theme was “Your Go-To Beer”. February might be about winter beers, March might run along the lines of stouts because of St. Patrick’s Day and so on. This month, our beer club members’ go-to beers were: Duchesse de Bourgogne, Lagunitas Brown Shugga’, Ommegang Hennepin, Saranac Caramel Porter, Smartmouth Alter Ego Saison, Devils Backbone Vienna Lager and Epic Brainless Raspberries.
Don’t overcomplicate beer club. Have your guests mingle, pour beer at their own pace and grab some snacks, which brings me to my final point.
Provide awesome snacks. Snacks don’t have to take up all of your time and can often be prepared in advance. With the help of the Internet, I made candied pecans, crostini with blue cheese and roasted grapes, spinach-garlic dip and mac and cheese bites. I also provided crackers, salami and cornichons.
After all is said and done, beer club is simply about spending quality time with quality people over tasty food and even tastier brews. So what do you say? Why not start a beer club?