The Birth of a Denver Homebrew Club

Denver Homebrew Club Kickoff Meeting They came from all different backgrounds, but they were all there for the beer. Or beer making, that is.

The February meeting at the Rackhouse Pub marked the first official meeting for Denver’s newest homebrew club, simply named DenverHBC. I went there not knowing what to expect. All I knew was that if my buddies were forming a homebrew club, I was going to be a part of it.

The turnout shocked me. Not only the amount of people (a good 25), but the mix. When asked how many people had never brewed before, about half raised their hands.

Gotta’ love the ambition!

But why another homebrew club? I’m relatively new to the area and haven’t had time to seek them out, but I know they are abundant.

I asked the club’s founder, Chris Washenberger,

“Homebrew clubs are often just that – clubs. Dues and presidents and business and blah, blah, blah. I am trying to make this more of a social club where homebrewed beer is the center of attention. We are brewing for any number of personal reasons but ultimately, beer is the result and beer must be drank up to fulfill its purpose.”

Chris also feels strongly about competitions and how the competitive attitude of other clubs makes them a big turnoff:

“I, personally, am a bit disillusioned with competitions because my last club was obsessed with them and it wasn’t particularly fun but we should encourage our members to compete as individuals in any style/way they want. Hell, I think it would be great if some people from the club were able to collaborate and make a beer better and win some recognition.”

Gotta agree with him there. Many of the clubs I’ve come across put winning competitions ahead of everything, earning them the highest of douchebag honors.

The other homebrewers felt the same way. If we’re starting a club, competitions aren’t going to be the focus. Neither is making new brewers feel dumb – we see that way too often.

Nope, this will be a laid back club that’s in it for the beer and the friends. How could it be about anything else?

As the night went on we practiced what we preached, walking new brewers through the basics and answering questions. The group really gelled, and the alcohol helped with the social lubrication.

Ah yes, the alcohol. Each homebrewer brought their own creations to share with the group. Saisons, lambics, stouts, IPAs – the brewers certainly didn’t hold to a single style. While our brews were tasty our labeling skills left something to be desired. With dozens of identical brown bottles floating the room everyone quickly lost track of what belonged to who. I lost my citra pale ale for a while until I saw PJ polishing off the bottle. Typical.

So this first meetup was a success, but time will tell if the club has staying power. Based on what I saw, this homebrewer is very optimistic.

If you’re interested in joining the Denver Homebrew Club, visit the website or follow Chris Washenberger on twitter.

About Billy Broas

Billy Broas is beer guy – drinking it, making it, and writing about it. He publishes a beer blog at and runs an online course that teaches people how to homebrew, called The Homebrew Academy.