MARQUETTE – A new beer brewing club in Marquette is looking to bring together those who take part in the fast-growing hobby of home brewing to trade recipes, participate in competitions and teach new styles of brewing.
“The gist of it is, if you enjoy brewing and you feel like you want to hang out with some people who also enjoy brewing, you can learn as much as you want to learn … or you can just hang out and have some fun,” said David Gill, president of the Marquette Home Brewers.
The club, which began informally with about 10 people, quickly grew as word spread an association was forming.
Jill Gethers holds a container of yeast used to brew beer. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
Chris Gethers stirs the inaugural batch of beer brewed Sunday in a Brew-Magic, manufactured by Sabco, Chris and wife Jill’s newest addition to their Chocolay Township home’s brewing set-up. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
A glass of home-brewed beer, brewed by the Gethers, is shown. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
“Instead of like, eight friends, we had 30 people, and that’s when I realized we had to get organized or it was just going to turn into a mess,” Gill said.
The organization officially formed in November and is now governed by a board of five people which meets monthly to conduct club business.
The group also meets monthly for a social gathering. Home brewers can trade recipes and methods, discussing what worked for them and what didn’t. Membership annually is $24 for a single person or $36 for a couple.
For being such a young organization, the association has held an impressive number of events already, hosting several brew competitions and planning more for the summer.
The group participated in Big Brew Day May 3, a national event in which home brewers across the country brew up a batch of their best beers.
In Marquette, the club met outside Black Rocks Brewery and brewed three different styles of beer. The top three were chosen by a panel of judges and will be brewed throughout the summer at Black Rocks.
It’s events like these that Gill said can help boost the knowledge of home brewing.
“I’ve learned more since the club opened than in the last five years of brewing on my own,” Gill said.
And while a little healthy competition may boost interest for some, Gill stressed that the club is not interested in establishing a “hierarchy of top brewers.”
“It’s a brewers’ club and if you’re a brewer and you’re in the club, then you’re an equal member of the club in every way,” Gill said.
Saturday, Gill is hosting a Summer Solstice Brew and Barbecue, in which club members can come, brew some beer and enjoy a social gathering that doesn’t include a competition.
The association also hosts a Style of the Month club, in which a style of beer is chosen and club members are given two months to brew it. July’s style is hefewezen, a German style of wheat beer.
Gill said any club member who brews at least 10 different styles of beer, and earns the most points with those beers, will win the club’s “Homebrewer of the Year” award.
“We encourage people to brew more, to explore brewing more, to brew styles that they may not have otherwise brewed and to learn more about the styles,” Gill said.
Home brewing can take on many forms, from a $100 starter kit to thousands spent on professional, small scale systems.
The association is no stranger to the gamut of home brewing, with a slew of different types of brewers, from those that enjoy brewing a batch here and there to those that dedicate most of their free time to perfecting their craft.
Chris and Jill Gethers fall into the latter end of the spectrum, having up to eight different types of beer on tap and ready to go at any time in their home in Chocolay township.
The pair set up their newest brewing equipment Sunday, a Brew-Magic system from Sabco. The inaugural beer brewed on the new equipment Sunday was an IPA called Carme Citra.
For the Gethers, who have been home brewing for 15 years, their hobby has grown into a passion they hope to some day turn into a profession, a passion that was made apparent as they explained how they began brewing on the stove with malt extract and eventually upgraded to a small scale professional set up.
“We produce far more than we care to drink. We would like to drink it all, but there’s the consideration of the liver, maintaining employment,” Gethers joked, saying they give away roughly 70 percent of what he and his wife brew.
At any given time, the couple has between 50 to 70 gallons of beer ready to drink. With so much extra beer, the pair give out samples to everyone they know, hoping to utilize their feedback to hone in on the best recipes.
The pair will be taking over brewing operations at Shooters in Munising, where they can continue to perfect their craft on a bigger scale.
For more information on the club and its activities, email Gill at email@example.com