More folks seem to be taking up homebrewing as a hobby based on feedback from local homebrew stores. The next step for some is exploring the possibility of joining a homebrew club. The American Homebrewers Association has a database of more than 1,000 registered homebrew clubs, including San Jose’s Almaden Brewers, Affinity Home Brewing Club, the Grain Trust and the longstanding Worts of Wisdom Homebrewers and Silicon Valley Sudzers, as well as Santa Clara’s the HeadQuarters and Santa Clara Valley Brewers. There are also smaller, informal brewing clubs throughout the South Bay—think of friends and acquaintances getting together every few months and making a day out of making beer.

Homebrew clubs are a diverse bunch, just like their members, yet each homebrew club has its own mission and philosophy reflecting its members’ passions for good beer. Derek Wolfgram, communications co-chair of Silicon Valley Sudzers, says, “Homebrew clubs have their own personalities: some are really technical or competition oriented; others are very social, basically beer drinking clubs—not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Wolfgram gravitated to the Sudzers after arriving in the South Bay in 2009: “I’ve always appreciated the way the Sudzers have balanced the educational aspect of learning about beer and brewing with the social activities.” Formed in 1997, the Sudzers are an active South Bay homebrew club, holding monthly meetings to share and receive feedback on homemade brews.

One such event is based on an idea from beer-industry pioneer Pete Slosberg in partnership with the East Bay’s Slow Hand BBQ restaurant. Several months ago, Slosberg and Slow Hand owner Dan Frengs invited Sudzers members to use Slow Hand’s smoker to create smoked malts but with a twist—malts were smoked with wood smoke and the aromas from a variety of smoking meats, like barbecue ribs, brisket and chicken. The resulting beers can be tasted Sunday at Slow Hand BBQ.

A $35 ticket covers various barbecue meats and sides, and the opportunity to sample the six Sudzers-brewed beers made with the barbecue-smoked malts: Abbey Wit’ Smoke Witbier (with chicken- and bacon-smoked malt), Angry Leprechaun Irish Red Ale (with brisket-smoked malt), Lunch Meat Altbier (with rib-smoked malt), McSwinerson’s Scotch Ale (with rib-smoked malt), Smoke & Mirrors Porter (with brisket-smoked malt) and Smokin’ Wheat American Wheat (with chicken- and bacon-smoked malt).

Smoked Beer
Sunday, April 14, 1-4pm, $35; Slow Hand BBQ, 1941 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill