The homebrew group, how does it work?
Have a look at the ‘About’ page, it’ll be where most of the information about the meets will be posted. We meet monthly every month apart from January (when available) on the first Tuesday of the month. Details are usually posted in the group, but we’ve been moving between Brewdog and Sea Laines over the last 12 months. We haven’t met since November 2020, though this may change for April’s meet.
Format is fairly loose, and it’s a relatively small, community. We’ll have between 5-10 brewers at the meets normally. We tend to go from lighter beers to dark, with mixed fermentation/sour somewhere in the middle.As well as some of the other brewers at the meet, I (James) will try to give some feedback on your beers, but please don’t be disappointed if it’s not positive, or I’m not able to give you my full attention during the meets. I’m a certified BJCP judge, have run a couple of competitions locally and now over 50 of these meets, so hopefully have enough experience to give you some decent feedback on the beers and how to make any improvements, if necessary. My opinion is only based on my sensory evaluation, so, horror, could always be wrong. If you like your beer and I (or others) don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I’m also happy to give feedback on any bottles privately as well, message me here on the FB group and you can drop them to mine or leave one with me at the meet. I’m happy to give you a full BJCP scoresheet, or just a few paragraphs via private message.
We do occasionally have challenges for our brewers, as well as competitions. This does depend my energy and willpower, so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen often enough.
Where can I get CO2 in Brighton?
Without a doubt, the most asked question on the HBB Facebook group! There’s a few local choices:
- GP Barnes over in Southwick is the most common answer. Unless you have reason not to, this is probably the first place to look. I think you’ll need a car to pick up/deposit. £20 deposit, £20 per canister. Liquid Air is the supplier of their gas. Note: we had some questions about the business shutting down but GP has been apparently up for sale for the last 6 years or so, so business as usual!
- Four Seasons Fuel in Billingshurst. £50 deposit, £18 fill. These guys deliver, useful if you don’t have a car. My supplier. Gas supplied by Bargas.
- Eltham Welding also mentioned as an option.
What’s the Brighton Water Like? How do I treat it?
Look no further than the Brighton Water Spreadsheet tutorial for more information. There’s a bunch of Brighton water reports (and a couple from Worthing) have been collated in the first tab. If you have one, feel free to share it with me or the group and I’ll add it on there. The tutorial should talk you through how to use it in relatively simple terms. If you don’t understand it, best place to ask is probably on the FB group
I’m missing xxx ingredient, where can I buy it locally?
My recommendations, in order of preference:
- Buy it Online: My advice is to plan in advance, or delay your beer to another day when you have all the ingredients you need. Most online homebrew shops are pretty good at getting supplies shipped out quickly, though covid has definitely had an impact on turnaround.
- Ask in the Facebook Group: We do occasionally get asked for emergency last minute ingredient requests. By all means, use the group for this, but please don’t rely on this as a consistent resource!
- Buy it Locally. We’re a bit short on options. Worthing did have a small homebrew shop (Johnson Home Wine Supplies), but I believe they shut a few years ago. Otherwise the only options we have are:
Wilkos: There’s a Wilko in Worthing and Burgess Hill, they have a small selection of ingredients. More stuff like bottling equipment, fermentation vessels, syrup kits. They stock Woodford’s Wherry which is a fantastic starter kit. The Wilko ale yeast is Nottingham (clean, high attenuating ale yeast) and reasonably priced. You might want to check stock before making a trip over there.
Easybrew: There’s a homebrew shop on Baker street in Brighton that is permanently closed. However, they have a small section in the bike shop next door, but I’d be very dubious about the quality/freshness of the ingredients, and the service is reportedly not fantastic. Unless you’re really desperate, I’d avoid.
- Get Friendly with a Brewery: The other option is to have a connection to a brewery for the odd pick up. I personally don’t do this as I think brewers are financially tight and busy enough as it is without the odd homebrewer coming in and asking for a few hops. That’s just my perspective though! A while back I did ask at the Harvey’s shop for some hops and they happily gave me some.
How can I become a BJCP judge?
Unfortunately, I’m the only local judge. I’ve tried several times to get small training groups going, but they’ve always frittered out as I think the time commitment on the part of the trainees was a bit more than expected. We do have contacts with the London organisers LAB, so I think the best method may be to self-teach and try and get a spot on one of the exams. They’re quite rare, so if you’re offered one and serious about it, take it. You’ll need to take an online multiple choice exam, then you have the tasting exam. Get involved with the scene up there as well: enter comps, proctor exams, they always need volunteers. It’s not a HUGE commitment and it’s not as difficult as it might appear. If you’re already familiar with the different styles in the BJCP style guidelines, have an intermediate knowledge of the brewing process and some idea of off-flavours, you’re pretty much there. We may be able to get off-flavour kits as well if we can get a small group to pool together.
Otherwise, if folks are interested in setting up a training group, I’m very happy to help structure, offer feedback and attend any meetings (if available) that folks may want to set up, but I’m afraid as it’s not worked out in the past, I’ll decline to be the sole organiser of BJCP training. Herding cats and all that.
Can I advertise my brewery/product on the group?
HBB is very happy to support local businesses, but keep it relevant and not spammy. Basically, please ensure:
- The product/brewery is relevant to homebrewers and/or beer lovers (preferably both) in the Sussex/South East area. In order of increasing preference:
- If you’re releasing a beer, we might be interested. Chuck it up and don’t worry too much about it, please don’t do it too often.
- If you’re opening a brewery in the Sussex area, we’d love to hear about it.
- If you’re offering our group to have a tour around your new brewery OR If you’re a local yeast rep and want to let us know about a new product, we’d definitely be interested in hearing, but we’d be really happy if you could come and have a chat with us about it and throw in a few samples to boot.
- The frequency of promotion isn’t more than once every 6-8 weeks. Goes with the don’t spam us message above. Any folks posting irrelevant advertising in the group will be banned. If you’re borderline, I’ll probably just post a message, it’ll be obvious if you’re not.