Niagara Association Of Homebrewers
|Location:||Buffalo Niagara region New York|
|Email:||See site for contact info|
Mission Statement: “To increase our knowledge of beer and beer brewing; to improve our skills as homebrewers; and to enhance our pleasure in homebrewing by sharing that knowledge and skill and enjoyment with others.’
The Art of beer - Niagara Arts and Cultural Center
The Science of Beer - Buffalo Museum of Science
Amber Waves of Grain, Western New York Homebrew Competition - first weekend of March
National Big Brew Day - Niagara Tradition Homebrew. Homebrew class and brewing demonstration.
Brew On the River - Club Brewing project day. This event has seen it share of extreme or historical brews including a Brew-a-thon, Stien beer, and Sumerian beer
Club Picnic - The end of summer celebration. Themed food event.
Buffalo Brewfest - Homebrew demonstration
National Homebrew Day - Niagara Tradition Homebrew. Homebrew class and brewing demonstration.
Holidaze - Club sponsored holiday party featuring Turducken and some of the best food around.
History: The process of organizing and naming the Niagara Homebrewers Club happened as brewers gathered around the dining room table at Ed D‘Anna’s house in Niagara Falls back on October 25, 1996. With the special encouragement of Paul Dyster and Ed D’Anna a brew club was formed to promote the brewing of beer and provide education for the membership. The charter promoters were: Ed, Paul, Bill Koch, Mike Schiavone, Glenn Matheis, Frank Mannarino, Kevin Kalinowski, Mike DeBisschop, Gino Tortice with Erv Brese, Rita Liotta, and Peter Marra coming to subsequent meetings. Rita designed and distributed a logo. Ed made up and distributed membership cards.
It was decided to have monthly meetings on the Fourth Friday of the month. In summer months no meetings were scheduled. One time the club decided to try a meeting on Monday at Pearl Street Brewery, but the small turnout caused them to return to Fridays, meetings hosted by members in their homes. Ed got the Club invited to meet at the LaSalle Yacht Club a couple of times, but that also faded out. All meetings include some educational feature, tasting homebrews brought by members as well as commercial beers shared. A monthly-featured style was announced and taken seriously by some of the members.
Club presidents have been Mike, Ed, Bill, Keith Curtacchio, Joe Nardecchia and Ethan Cox with an annual election in October, at which time dues were also collected. As secretary-treasurer, Ed paid the bills and guarded the moneys in a sock somewhere. He gave the club members an annual written accounting at the first meeting of each year. He also acted as librarian and keeper of the Clubs classic brewing series books for the membership.
Dues were later established at $10.00 a year due in January. Many members have hosted the club meetings over the years with new members joining the ranks in a steady stream while others faded away for a variety of reasons as one might expect.
Some special events have been added to monthly meetings, some of which have become annual events: The Christmas/Holidaze party, the June Brew on the River party, the late summer picnic with the Sultans of Swig Beer Club, a St. Patrick Day strong beer competition, etc. In addition, the Annual Western New York Competition, which began in 1997, came under the sponsorship of the Club with more and more members becoming qualified BJCP judges. This is a major event requiring many volunteers.
Brewing competitively has risen to greater prominence, with the introduction of the NYS Homebrewer of the Year (HOTY) established under the leadership of member Todd Snyder. (www.nyshoty.org). Todd also alerted the membership to upcoming competitions. Members’ brews are regularly sent as entries to the national Club Only Competition (COC). The Club has been active in the national “Teach a Friend to Brew Day” each spring, and staffs Niagara Tradition on days when Paul and Becky are away. It’s a day when the “inmates” take over the “Asylum.” Actually, many shoppers come in that day to talk to real homebrewers for tips. It also leads to recruitment of new Club members, as does the second Friday tastings sponsored by the store.
Irregularly, educational features have been presented over the years. From excellent events like hop tea tasting at Ed’s, to experiments about oxygen barrier and regular caps, to water analysis, to malting your own grains, to several beer exam preparation study groups—all are a part of the Club’s history. Club members have made presentations of their gadgets and the many styles of beer. Timely article notations, announcements of new equipment and techniques continue, also on a more informal basis. Membership in the American Homebrewers Association has been encouraged. Articles from the magazine Zymurgy have been up for discussion and contribution by members. The Club is a registered member of AHA.
Education promoter, Erv, has encouraged the host of every meeting to feature some educational topic. In the recent past we have enjoyed talks about water chemistry, kegging, beer trips, no-sparge brewing, malting your own grain, hop growing, gadgets and others.
Over the years many new brewers have joined the club. We are beyond having a Holiday Party at someone’s home anymore, with many fond memories of the years at the Koch’s. January 2004 marked the first successful party in a Hall with over 60 in attendance.
The club has its own Web Site (http://niagarabrewers.org) initiated and serviced by President Keith, who has been an enthusiastic, promoter of the club and its activities. It contained announcements of activities, pictures of past events, old minutes, coming competitions and results. Keith is also one of the chief recruiters of new members for the Club and reports an eager willingness on the part of the membership to volunteer for its many social activities. At last count over 50 active brewers belonged to the club.
As we move towards another anniversary of the Club’s existence, many friendships have been made and sustained among brewers and spouses; the quality of brewing has continued to improve; and the cooperation of members in completing many brewing related tasks has been a treasured experience for many.
2006 marks the tenth year of activity for the Niagara Homebrewers Association (NAH). The range of events continues to expand; the range of accomplishments of its members continues to grow.
David Glor has studied in Europe for a year to learn to be a professional brewer. The WNY homebrew competition, now known as Amber Waves of Grain, has grown to receive over 400 entries a year, moving out of smaller quarters for the judging to a spacious Knights of Columbus hall. The awards banquet that follows has moved to a facility on UB’s campus. Two national Queens of Beer are members, Rita Liotta and Linda Rader. Our own Dan Gestwick took a second place in the AHA ‘s competition with his Cider in 2005. Many members have taken awards locally, in NYS competitions and beyond.
When one of its members, Mark Sobotka, died of cancer, the club turned out to help his widow, attended the funeral, provided the beverages, and did a fund raiser for his wife. They spearheaded a benefit to cover his medical and other expenses. Another member died suddenly and was also duly recognized. Many club members are active in other charities in western New York.
The big socials of the year continuing to thrive starting off with a holiday party in January, the Awards Banquet after the competition, the Brew on the River in June at Bill and Nancy Koch’s, and the joint picnic with the Sultan’s, lately in Todd and Sue Snyder’s back yard.
A number of members have passed the BJCP exam and now judge both locally and elsewhere. National Judges are: Paul Dyster, Ed D’Anna, Larry Pilon, and Tim Collins. Others passing the exam are Mike Schiavone, Dan Casetta, Bill Koch, Becky Dyster, Ric Cunningham, Keith Bailey, Erv Brese, Rita Liotta, Terry Felton, and Joe Nardeccia. Several members are studying to become judges while others study to move up in the ranks. Many entries come to our competition because they know of the high quality of our judging and its good organization. This also brings the attendance of Master and Grand Master judges.
The Amber Waves of Grain, Western New York Homebrew competition is organized by a core team of members. Tim Collins - registrar, Keith Curtachio - All thing IT and banquet, Rita Liotta - program and label contest. Judge director and Head steward/cellarmaster are handled by new volunteers each year as well as the Organizer (Cat herder). Past organizers include the Dysters, Keith Curtachio, Keith Bailey, Larry Pilon, Terry Felton, and Ric Cunningham. The competition would not be what it is without the work of the Prize committee - Jim Gorman, Dan Gestwick, Linda Rader and others. Becky Dyster is also a fixture in the organizing team.
Recently Paul Dyster was elected Mayor of Niagara Falls, becoming only the second US mayor whose hobby is homebrewing. Others have distinguished themselves in other ways:
PS This is a skeletal history that can be corrected, embellished, and modified as others contribute. Personally, I sense the health of the organization depends upon a dedication of all members to continue brewing and teaching other to do so, which remains as the original purpose. While there are may affects that continue to be of benefit, this is the key.
Updated November 2009 Ric Cunningham