How to Get the Most Out of Homebrew Club Beer Feedback

A homebrew club meeting is an awesome opportunity to get constructive feedback on your own beers from a beer-savvy audience. Tasting sessions are an important part of any Horse Thief get-together.

Do you have a homebrew you want to share with the club? Bring some to the next meeting! To get the most out of the experience, here are a few pointers.

  • Bring enough! During a typical tasting, you beer will be sampled by 6 to 12 people. To make sure that everyone gets a sample, bring at least 32 ounces (that works out to 3 12-oz bottles, 2 22-oz bottles, or a 32 ounce growler). Experience shows that this is usually enough for sampling and evaluation.
  • Bring the beer at its best! Make sure your beer has adequately conditioned and carbonated before you share it at the meeting. “Green” beer is not yet at its peak, and so you may not get terribly useful feedback, or you might get disappointing feedback on what could be a good beer in a few weeks’ time. If you bottle condition, make an effort to keep the bottles from getting agitated, to keep yeast sediment on the bottom. Bring samples that are properly chilled. If your beer is in a growler, fill it carefully and fill it full, to avoid losing too much carbonation.
  • Bring information. What ingredients did you use? What was your fermentation profile? What style (if any) were you aiming for? Homebrewing is all about sharing information–who knows, maybe your beer will inspire someone else in their next brew!
  • Bring your questions. Do you want to know if the beer is within the bounds of a particular style? Is this the first round for your recipe, and you want to know how to improve it? Are you chasing down an “off” flavor? Club members are happy to help–and it’s easiest if we know what kind of feedback you are looking for.
  • Bring a positive attitude. We always aim for constructive feedback–that means we want to share what is great about a beer, but we also will want to (gently) discuss what doesn’t quite hit the mark. Take feedback with an open mind–it can be hard to hear if we’re really attached to a particular brew, but feedback is (ideally) given with an eye towards improving all of our efforts. We all have batches that are less than perfect sometimes. We learn from our past efforts. That is what makes our truly exceptional beers all the more special!
  • Bring all of your senses. You’re not just the recipient of feedback–your opinion on other club members’ beer matters too! Ask questions about that malt flavor or that hop aroma you pick up on someone else’s brew. Offer your own feedback on what works (or doesn’t work) for your taste buds. The more you put into a club meeting, the more you will get out of it.
  • Bring a set of BJCP Style Guidelines. If you are trying to hit the marks of a particular style you should know what they style would ideally taste, look and smell like.  Make sure to bring a copy of the BJCP Style Guidelines (available for download here) and that you read and understand the beers that you are tasting. We judge against the guide to allow us to evaluate the beers fairly and across an even field.

So, bring your beer to our next meeting. We’re eager to sample it!