Learn To Homebrew Day shows growth in hobby

Kurt Seelenmayer of the Southern Ontario Brewers homebrew club demonstrates brewing a barleywine at Learn2Brew Day at Amsterdam Brewing in Toronto.

Kurt Seelenmayer of the Southern Ontario Brewers homebrew club demonstrates brewing a barleywine at Learn2Brew Day at Amsterdam Brewing in Toronto.

It’s been a good year for homebrewing, both in Canada and south of the border in the United States. The number of homebrewers seems to be on the rise; and, in the case, of the U.S., the hobby is now legal in all 50 states.

The growth of the hobby really shows on the first Saturday of November, when Learn To Homebrew Day (sometimes referred to as Teach A Friend To Homebrew Day) events are run across the Canada and the U.S. According to Gary Glass, a director of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), the number of homebrewers has been increasingly rapidly in the last few years.

The AHA now boasts an impressive 40,000 members. The vast majority of those are located in the U.S., but Canada sports approximately 230 to 250 AHA members. Many do so to subscribe to Zymurgy, the AHA’s homebrewing magazine that offers various tips and tricks in brewing at the home scale. Many others are members of the various homebrew clubs across Canada. And there are such clubs from Pacific to Atlantic Canada.

Learn To Homebrew Day celebrated its fifteenth year earlier this month, and it was the first such event since the last of the hold-out states (Alabama and Mississippi) legalized homebrewing. Glass told Beer In Canada it took a lot of work to get those last states to legalize the hobby. And it will almost assuredly mean even more members to the organization.

“There’s actually been quite a bit of change. For the last several years, homebrewing has been growing very rapidly,” Glass said. “The American Homebrewers Association has experienced growth of on average of 20% in memberships since 2005.” This year, there were more than 200 sites registered to run Learn To Homebrew Day events.

The Southern Ontario Brewers (they like to be called SOBs, but they’re actually a fairly decent bunch of men and women) also celebrated a milestone with their own event this year. The SOBs call their event Learn2Brew Day, and this year marked the fifth year in a row the event ran. And it has grown significantly since the first day, when only a handful of homebrewers and potential hobbyists showed up.

It was the fourth year in a row that Amsterdam Brewery hosted the event, allowing homebrewers to set up their equipment and brew beers with a variety of techniques — from all-grain mashes to extract recipes. One homebrewer even set up the brew-in-a-bag all-grain method that has become popular in the last few years.

According to Jason Stranak, Learn2Brew Day coordinator, this year’s event was smaller in terms of numbers over last year’s event, but he said he was happy with the turn-out.

As someone who attended both the second and third Learn2Brew Days at the old Amsterdam facility (before it moved to Leaside), I’ll say this year’s event was about in line with the previous events I attended. Good attendance, good people and a lot of knowledge being passed around. Chances are, these events will only continue to grow and bring more people into (or back into) the hobby in future years.

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