Raise a Glass for Homebrewed Beer

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Posted by Staci Lehman on April 30, 2018, 6 a.m.

Homemade beer and wine lovers rejoice; your holiday is on the horizon. National Homebrew Day is May 7, although it is usually celebrated locally the first Saturday of the month. And with lots of, well, beer and wine naturally. In our area, events to mark the occasion are organized by local homebrew clubs.

“It’s a club celebration at Nu Home Brew, which also has a brewery on site, Genus Brewing, in Spokane Valley,” said Adam Boyd, president of the Inland Brewers Unite (IBU) Homebrew Club. “It’s a barbecue celebration; all of our homebrewers come and some bring their equipment and we brew and eat all day.”

Three men with beers

With 100 active members, IBU is the largest area homebrew club, and looking to grow.

“We invite the public to come down,” said Boyd of the Homebrew Day festivities. “We encourage people to join the club. It’s kind of a membership push day for us.”

While there are demonstrations, competitions and plenty of tasting that take place on National Homebrew Day, those interested in learning to brew don’t have to wait for one day of every year to start to learn the ropes. Members are eager to offer advice anytime of the year.

 “We do some educational stuff; it is one arm of the club,” said Boyd. “But Peter McArthur of Nu Home Brew does classes through the Spokane Public Library and Jim from Jim’s Home Brew in North Spokane does classes through the Parks and Recreation Department.”

Homebrewing is one of the country’s fastest growing hobbies. The American Homebrewers Association says there were 1.2 million homebrewers in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

Brewers may or may not be buying beer from stores and legally can’t sell their product, but homebrewers do have a substantial impact on the economy. Between buying equipment and ingredients and paying employees of homebrew shops, it is an approximately $764 million a year industry.

Boyd says some homebrewers began during the recession to enjoy good beer at affordable prices, but most IBU members do it for other reasons. They’re beer geeks; they’re very interested in beer, whether they make it or a local brewery does. They’re very much into the science and technique of it… It’s not just about making their own.”

Members like to tour breweries and attend or put on events linked with commercial breweries.

The Homebrewers of the Panhandle Society (IDHOPS) has similar events in North Idaho for people who make their own beer, wine, cider and mead. Nothing is specifically planned for National Homebrew Day but the group enjoys quarterly brew days.

“We pick a site, usually it’s someone’s house,” said Vice President Aaron Borg. “It’s about six hours that we are making a batch and there might be a potluck to go with it or an education component or we might just kick back and have a couple beers during that time.”

IDHOPS is smaller than the Spokane version but plans to grow in 2018 and welcomes brewers of all experience levels.

“We’ll teach you what you want to know to get started,” said Borg. “There are some incredibly experienced people. We love taking on new people.”

Borg said IDHOPS members brew their own beverages partly out of pride in making a quality product. “I think it’s the idea that people like to drink a beverage that they hand crafted,” he said. “I think people get a thrill out of trying to craft something uniquely their own.”

Inland Brewers Unite (IBU) welcomes all brewers, whether actively brewing or just attending events. The $35 annual membership fee gives access to all club events. For information, email ibufin@gmail.com.

The Homebrewers of the Panhandle Society also welcomes everyone. The $25 annual membership fee provides access to all club meetings, events and competitions. For more information, visit the IDHOPS Facebook page.