On March 16, the club had its first group brew — dubbed "Big Brew Day" — March 16 at Union Craft Brewing in Hampden. Novices were paired with experienced brewers who worked together from choosing a recipe to buying ingredients to going through all the steps to produce beer.
Fourteen brewers, along with a few observers, brought all their equipment, set it up inside the craft brewery and made beer. They made seven batches of beer, including two 10-gallon batches, according to Kinsey.
They tasted Union's craft beers and offered samples of their home brews to visitors to Union's Tasting Room, as well.
It was such a success, the group plans to have another.
"That's the way to get your feet wet," Jonathan Thoupos, of Lutherville, said at the March meeting.
He and his friend, Andy Back, also of Lutherville, have been making beer for about six months. Already they've produced seven batches — pretty good, since it take a month for a beer to brew.
A growing hobby
Home brewing clubs are nothing new. In fact, more than a dozen belong to the Freestate Home Brew Club Guild. In addition to regular meetings, brew clubs gather to show off their best ales and lagers in competitions throughout the year.
Maryland clubs, including Brewtherville Lab's, plan to show off their home brews together in June at the American Homebrewers Association's already sold-out national conference in Philadelphia.
Brian Arnold and Jill Antos, of Roland Park, homebrewers themselves, recently opened Nepenthe in Woodberry, Baltimore City's first homebrew supply store.
The couple decided to open their store after looking at data from the American Homebrewers Association.
"It has grown pretty significantly in the last couple of years," he said. "Craft brewing is becoming so popular. It seems like a lot of people are coming to home brewing."
Nepenthe sells everything from homebrewing kits to 46 types of malted grain and 51 kinds of hops. A brew-on-premises facility will open there later this spring for those interested in making beer without buying all the equipment, Arnold said.
"It seems like the homebrewing community is happy to have us," said Arnold. He met a number of Brewtherville members who stopped by for supplies on their brew day at Union.
Meetings are more than social gatherings. Ordering a beer may be the first order of business, with a break for a refill later in the meeting, but the agenda is packed with reports, explanations of new club benefits, a beer tasting led by the Brewfessor, Gibbs Burke, of Lutherville, followed by feedback from fellow brewers and ending with announcements of upcoming events.
"You don't have to brew beer," Kinsey said. Interest in beer is enough. But there are benefits to belonging to a club like this: discounts at home brew stores, club events and support with home brewing whether you are a beginning or well into your 10th or 20th batch.
The club also plans to participate in Brew Days with other clubs and tour local craft breweries.