Houston homebrewers celebrate comradery found through beer

March 5, 2019 GMT

Homebrewers from across the Houston area gathered at Saint Arnold Brewing Company on Saturday, Feb. 23, to have fun, socialize and of course, drink beer.

The 15th annual American Homebrewers Association rally in Houston brought out about 120 members of several Houston-area brewing clubs and celebrated the art of crafting and enjoying all kinds of beer.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, the AHA began in 1978 and has more than 46,000 members across the world, with roughly 500 from around Houston, according to Matt Bolling, AHA events and membership coordinator. He said the organization’s local rallies are both fun and educational.

“Homebrewing is often a social hobby with friends and family pitching in, and events like these local rallies are an opportunity for the community to share their love for craft beer and learn more about beer and brewing beer,” Bolling said. “Beer lovers and homebrewers can get a peek behind the scenes at their favorite local breweries, meet other hobbyists and enthusiasts and gather to sample and celebrate an appreciation for craft beer, exchange brewing ideas and experiences and talk with professional brewers.”


Chris Smith got involved with the Foam Rangers Homebrew Club after she bought her husband Paul a Mr. Beer Homebrew kit one Christmas several years back. Paul liked brewing beer so much that they decided to join the club. Now, Paul makes the beer, and his wife helps him drink it.

“He’s not that picky, just looking for a good beer that exemplifies the style. I personally, I prefer maltier beers and Belgian style,” Smith said.

Another Foam Rangers member, Chris Todd, has been homebrewing for 32 years and said he appreciates the hands-on process.

“I like crafting something. It’s a lot like cooking, which is one reason I think that up until not very long ago historically women were brewers mostly,” Todd said. Back then, Todd said people would drink beer a lot more because it was at least boiled and therefore usually safer than water.

For Todd, homebrewing also “cuts across political spectrums” and helps him forge friendships that might not otherwise develop.

Phil Kaufman is the czar of the Kuykendahl Gran Brewers Homebrew Club and has been homebrewing since 1988. He said while he loves the comradery the KGB club provides, competing is great, too.

“It’s a friendly type of competition and again, bragging rights: who wins the competition has bragging rights for a year,” Kaufman said.

Steven Distelhorst and his fiancée Ryann Brzoska had been homebrewing on their own for several years before they moved to Houston a couple of years ago. They picked up a flyer for the Foam Rangers and decided to check it out. Since joining, they’ve been able to improve their crafting skills.


“We started out as extract brewers, and through the club we’ve made the progression to brew-in-a-bag and all-grain brewing and have gotten just so much help and feedback from other people in the club” Brzoska said. She said the Foam Rangers members are quick to offer step-by-step coaching or volunteer their own equipment for others that don’t have what they need to make a particular brew.

When brewing at home, every batch usually turns out a bit differently, so Kaufman raised his glass and smiled as he declared that his favorite brew is always “the one in my hand.”

The American Homebrewers Association has its own app for beer lovers, BrewGuru. It offers deals at local breweries, beer bars and retailers, 17 of which are here in the Houston area. If you are interested in homebrewing, annual AHA memberships start out at $38. For more information, visit www.homebrewersassociation.org.