When the idea of a homebrewing conference is mentioned most people probably think of a bunch of fat old guys with beards getting pissed amongst exploding bottles. However, there is much more to homebrewing than your old uncle and his exploding bottles.
The conference does have a lot of really technical brewing sessions for the hardcore homebrewer but there is also something there for someone with a casual interest and certainly much for someone who is a lover of beer. The most obvious of which is the beer and food pairing dinner. The dinner was amazing but there is a whole lot more for beer lovers to the homebrewers conference if you can look beyond the name.
If nothing else, each break – morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea – saw four different craft beers served on tap. Amongst the brewing sessions there are some gems for the beer enthusiast too. As the conference grows and matures I would like to see a beer enthusiast track develop. Most brewers that turn up to the conference are also enthusiasts so it seems like a natural fit.
This year we saw sessions on pairing food with beer by Paul Mercurio and Chris Badenoch, sensory analysis by Geoff White of Blue Tongue/SAB MIller, beer history of Belgium by Randy Mosher and an introduction to cheese making by Tracy Willman amongst many interesting and tasty sessions.
Outside of these types of sessions there is a lot for the beer lover to learn from the brewing sessions too. There is a range of sessions pitched at different levels of brewer from the complete novice to the true brewing geek. It can only be a good thing for the beer drinker to understand more about how what they drink is made and what it is made from. In a society where we are totally disconnected from the source of our food there is a lot of value in understanding what yeast really is or how we get from hops and barley growing in the paddock to the glass of beer you get at the pub. This is something the slow food movement is pushing and something that we as lovers of a craft product can really get behind.
Keep an eye on the ANHC web site for details of the next conference and think about how getting along may help your appreciation of great beer. You may even learn something about home brewing and be inspired to make your own. We have come a long way since your uncles exploding bottles in the shed. Homebrewers are a great bunch of people. If you think you may be interested find some in your area. I assure you they will be happy to talk beer and brewing with you at great length.