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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Brewing Network: A Club You Can Count On!

This is an open letter to all of those homebrewers out there that not only didn't applaud The Brewing Network Club  for winning Club of the Year, but actually booed us as we took the stage.  You know who you are ...

Dear Homebrewer:

I have been a homebrewer for about 15 years, and have been attending the National Homebrewers Conferences for about 10 years now - my first was in LA in 2001, and I've only missed two so far.  Each year, when all of you win awards for your beers, the room claps and cheers in support and solidarity.  You are so proud of your fellow brewers as they take the stage - throwing up high-fives as they pass your table.  It's a heartwarming thing to be a part of.  The club taking home the Club of the Year trophy is usually driven to the stage by a thundering round of applause and sometimes a standing ovation.  And why not?  They've earned it.  Whenever I talk to non-beer people about what it's like to attend one of these award banquets I tell them about the love in the room, about the cheers, about the brotherhood of the homebrewing community.

Enter: The Brewing Network.  Last year when we won COTY, we got no love from you.  No cheers, no high-fives.  Just silence with some boos.  Ok, fine.  It was the first time an internet club had won, and maybe something like that just needed some adjustment time.  When we won this year, we got the same treatment - quiet, boos, frowny-faces.  This is not the way I had been describing our community for the past 15 years.  This is someone elses hobby.  Someone elses gassy family.  Not mine. 

Standing on stage, holding our club award and listening to the silence of 1800 "friends", I realized that our community is not the big ball of love and support we all claim it is.  You people out there that were sitting in the dark, glaring at us with hate-filled and blood-shot eyes are ruining homebrewing.  So here is my request: Get Out.  Just leave.  Take your resentment and ship it back home with you so your wife and kids can hate you some more, and leave this to the rest of us that actually love to see our friends win.  I was embarrassed for the whole lot of you, to be honest.  You are all adults and well, well over 18 years old and yet you still fail to show humility when you lose.  Shameful. 

The BN Club stands as the only homebrewing resource for a great deal of brewers out there.  Just because there is a club near them - if at all - doesn't mean they have to be a part of it.  And standing there on stage with my friends, looking out into the crowd, I can't say I blame them for not wanting to share this hobby with you.   Just be happy that other people are happy and move on. 

After all ... its just beer.  Ain't it?

Stay Classy, Homebrewers.



  1. I was there on Saturday night and, despite being a founding member of my own local club, I applauded the Brewing Network as they won Club of the Year.

    I don’t know if it is “fair” for these local, and sometimes tiny, clubs to compete with The BN since it has a larger voice and reach than the rest. But I admire the amount of knowledge that the Brewing Network shares with the world, and what a positive force that they are for homebrewing in general.

    I don’t know if CotY is a fair competition, but they deserve it karmically. And not being happy for others is the very opposite of what homebrewing is about.

  2. I've been a homebrewer for many years, but have never had the finances to make it NHC. To me that is pretty despicable. While i'm not a fan of Virtual clubs, I would never consider behaving like what you described.
    Sad to hear there are people that bitter in a community which I hold in such high regard.

  3. I agree, JP. I'm not a member of the BN club; I submit my beers to competitions under a local club. Still, I understand what the BN club is and what it means to its members. I have to imagine that those who get pissed about the BN winning don't really know exactly what the BN homebrew club is. They probably never listen to any of the shows and haven't heard you & Justin explain how it started. I think they must think that somehow the Brewcasters are the driving force behind the whole thing. It has to be lost on them that the BN club is just a collection of everyday homebrewers - just like any club anywhere in the country - who come together make & discuss beer. I applaud the BN. If the BN wins again next year in Philly, I'll stand up and start a slow clap and won't stop until there's a full-on battle between the BN-booers and those of us applauding you. But you won't win because Pittsburgh's gunning for 2013...

  4. Don’t feel bad, it’s just beer, right (or so you said)?
    I am a long-time supporter of the BN. It is a valuable resource which I believe should be paid for. I’ve not only supported the BN with my donations, but more importantly by turning on other brewers to your resource. Calling out homebrewers simply because they didn’t lose their load when Coty was announced is insulting at worse and juvenile at best. It may bring together closer those hardcore BN guys, but it is only dividing you from the rest of us.
    I was there and the crowd response seemed adequate to me. I certainly heard no booing, and the cheering and clapping was quite palpable from my section. It is easy to see it as a negative response when going into the show you had clearly expected it as such. I think part of the excitement you have heard in previous years is due to the fact that it is typically a close race and perhaps even a surprise. It is a suspense filled moment where people are on the edge of their seats waiting to erupt. The conclusion of this year's award was known before the second round even occurred making it seem merely an announcement of what we all knew was happen going in. While it is absolutely no fault of your own, the award at this point has becoming something that is statistically impossible for any other clubs to compete in. Really, if you think about it, it’s pretty cool that the BN could pull that much sway and re-write the competition.
    Throughout the conference there were hordes (easily 100’s) of folks walking around in BN Army shirts, hats, etc. Even greater were the numbers of folks walking up to you so they could say hi to the internet celebrities that your crew is. Why they didn’t go on stage during the announcement or at least go nuts in their seats is unclear to me. Perhaps it is an indicator of the loyalty the folks who buy these shirts have to the BN club. If anyone needs to be called out, it is them… of course, shirt sales could suffer.

    1. The thing is though, it's not statistically impossible to compete. It might be statistically easier for The BN to win if the club actually is entering a larger number of beers, but on the other hand, only the exceptional ones place.

      They haven't released stats for this year, but last year The BN club only won by 14 points. 3rd place by 18 points.

      The difference in points between 3rd and 4th place last year was nearly 6 times the difference between first and third place. Yet if (2nd) DOZE or (3rd) QUAFF won the response would have been a lot different, and another 20 points is well within the grasp of those clubs. The whole "statistically impossible" thing wouldn't have come up in a discussion if they won, yet they had nearly 3x the overall points.

    2. Clearly you failed to grasp the point here. I wasn't asking why the whole room didn't blow up and cheer for us. I was commenting on how quiet it was in relation to other award announcements in general and how lame that is in a community that sells itself as tight-knit.

  5. well written JP. totally out of order. i was stoked to see you guys win again. and when DOZE and Maltose falcons won every i was happy for them too. i know plenty of clubs that can't compete "size-wise" with them but that doesn't make it any less awesome to win. it also doesn't make those small clubs any less awesome because they didn't win. keep up the good work with the BN club. you help support many homebrewers with info and entertainment (just like a 'real' club...ahem).

    1. They can compete though - DOZE won something like 34 medals from 17 people. Get 10 more people winning and you are Club of the Year.

  6. This is an embarrassment. We belong to a local homebrew club but we also regard ourselves as lifelong supporters of the BN. We were there last year when BN won and we were loud and cheering. If we had been there this year we would have been louder than ever. What matters in a Club? Physical presence or a vast amount of available knowledge? When my husband started brewing he listened to podcasts for 9 hours a day at work. Over and over again. Listening to Jamil, John, Tasty and the Sunday Session crew gave him confidence and information. Our local home brew club was also a wealth of info. But being able to listen to interviews with brewers talking about recipes, individual shows dedicated to the elements of brewing made the difference. We consider ourselves loud and proud members of the BN Army in every aspect. I think your reception at winning Club of the Year is reprehensible, childish and just immature. There will always be haters but it dismays me when I find that additude in the brewing community. Aren't we here because we love beer? Shouldn't we cheer the ones that win? Aren't we all brothers and sisters-in-arms? The BN has done so much for so many and I just want to say...we appreciate what you have accomplished and what you have given to us personally. Thank you. BN to the end.
    With deep and heartfelt love,
    Roberto and Jade

  7. straight cash homeyJune 25, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    F-ing feelings. Fact: Without the BN home brew would still be shat. 95% of home brewers would be producing absolute crap and not even realizing it was crap because they wouldn't have the knowledge that the BN has been providing. The amount of useful info the BN has been putting out for free has done more for homebrew in the last 7 years, than every other resource combined. That's another fact. I'm full of facts today. I heart beevo, susie and shats crazy b.

    1. Oh wow. Really?

      Like we didn't have forums and before that emails lists where people shared info and helped each other.

      BN is just a new spin on what came before. Get over yourself.

  8. What a bratty response. Boos? Not that I heard. If anything, the crowd was surprised since not everyone knows the rules for club of the year and the consensus up to that point was, "Hey, those guys from Austin are winning EVERYTHING".

  9. This year was my 7th conference. There were no boos around me.

    I refrained from applauding because I don't think the playing field is level when you have a virtual club that enters regions all over the country and all other clubs that are regional only.

    When this is the case it make the COTY meaningless.

  10. I don't quite grasp the big stink.
    I am new to this "competition" thingy, but I was under the impression that a Brew Club's main premise was to enhance the quality of homebrew and skills of homebrewers, and the COTY award only a recognition for doing a good job at it.
    In most local clubs, this is done by physically meeting other skilled brewers to get feedback on your beer and improve upon it. Very efficient way to improve indeed. An internet club has the disadvantage of not offering this direct feedback, so you are at a disadvantage and must work twice as much,or more, to make up for it by presenting member with tips from knowledgeable brewers.
    I think the overarching idea is the same though: passing on knowledge to improve the beer. At this, the BN does a great job and has meetings perhaps 3 to 4 times as much as most local clubs. At no cost, from everywhere. The award is not about winning a competition, but an appreciation to shared knowledge to benefit the ENTIRE community.
    I was happy to step on the stage to show my appreciation to the BN for continuing sharing the knowledge.

  11. It is great that all the complaints are coming from "anonymous" people...Sack up and grow a pair.

  12. JP please don't take offense, but I don't think you need to disown last year's "gassy family" or tell the 1800 "friends" from this year to get out of the hobby and that they ruining homebrewing. I've been in this hobby longer than you have and your comments are a little out of line buddy. I was one of those 1800 this year, I clapped, did not boo and actually personally congratulated you and Justin that night.

    I know how emotional it can be to win that particular award. Saint Paul did it three years in a row. You know how many times we were cheered? Only the first year, then we got that same reaction you received, not a lot of cheers and few boos. We were actually accused of cheating. The club who held it for six years before us (QUAFF) used to get their share of abuse too. The BN Army is not alone.

    Brewers who win awards get high fives, claps and cheers for their accomplishment. They did it by themselves, one on one with other brewers. Team awards are different, even in homebrewing where everyone loves everyone. The BN just kicked butt and if you think all other clubs who just lost want to jump up and down for the BN, you might be expecting too much. When the Bears beat the Vikings, Bears fans cheer and Vikings fans boo.

    JP, Don't waste a lot of time hating the haters, enjoy the award because you won't have it forever.

    Curt Stock
    Saint Paul Homebrewers Club
    And your pal! ;)

  13. JP,

    Don't get all upset, just F'ing feelings.

    I'm sure the AHA will change the rules next year to break out 'internet clubs'.

    Congratulations to the BN!

  14. Seriously?

    "People didn't cheer enough for us".

    Seriously?! I didn't realize we were in high school where we needed the recognition of our peers to make achievements worthwhile.

    Grow the frak up.

  15. I would agree the room was too quiet, considering about every third shirt at the conference was BN. Any heckling directed at the army was definitely in bad taste. But where the hell was the army? They should have jumped up on stage and made some noise. I wanted to, but was literally at the doors, against the wall, let in from the kindness of security so I could see if I got a medal. But I did cheer and clap loudly. The army needs to organize, get some tables, and make some noise as they get their trophy. If there wasn't enough noise, the army needs to get off their ass next year, own that shit and defend.
    Congrats to the BN

  16. Curt's right about a minority complaining no matter who wins any award. I heard it. But I heard a lot more cheers. Those are what I chose to listen to. And I'm a lot happier because of it.

    People that act that way say more about themselves than those they think they are protesting. Feel sorry for them and hope they grow up, but don't give them power over you.

    I defended you guys last year, so I don't see a need to do it again; my opinion hasn't changed. You're a club, you won it, you earned it, and the glory is yours. Enjoy it.

  17. First, well said and amen. Second, I am new to homebrewing. I find what BN offers is an invaluable resource for ALL brewers new and old. It's fresh, fun, insightful and informative. You have great content, outstanding guests and put together great shows.

    Being in a location where the closest local club is an hour or two away and the fact that they are not real active and generally elitist asshats, I am left to my own devices. I have found a few local homebrewers. We collaborate and share ideas and conversation and as a new brewer, I need that one on one time with a person or people to drive concepts home or see processes in action. My point is; BN can't replace a local club. You cant replace that camaraderie or face time you get with your fellow brewers. However, you guys fill a different niche. You provide those of us who do not have access to a robust local community a home. Lets not forget what BN is doing and has done for homebrewing as a craft. I'm not sure why people would be so jaded or bitter. Jealousy? Arrogance? Elitism? Regardless of their reasons, if they truly love the craft, then they should applaud anything that advances it. You guys are the best and won a well deserved award. cheers

  18. As a member of the winning team. Suck it haters. We are a club. A club that makes great beer. Better than yours. PPPPPllllllllbbbbbb!

  19. I share the concerns of many that the BN club has a built-in structural advantage over other clubs, in that it has a very diverse geographic representation (and therefore has more beer in more judging centers, and gets it there in better shape than a geographically centered club that tried to enter in all regions and had to ship it there) and a huge base of members. Justin's frequent point that the beer still needs to be good is valid, but only up to a point - as Gordon S. has mentioned on the show, even if all the beer is good, it's still partly a numbers game to null out the effect of poor judging, tough competition, etc. - so, a club with potentially thousands of members (which I seriously doubt ANY traditional club has) has an automatic advantage that strikes people as unfair.

    Having said that, realistically, most clubs aren't really in the running for club of the year anyway. I know mine isn't - we're just too small. But we CAN win the Gambrinus cup - it allows for level competition among clubs of different sizes, and in that case we're all on the same playing field.