The MCB is an independent group of craft brewers who live in the Midlands area, although brewers belonging to other clubs from all over the country occasionally attend our meetings and events. We also have informal links to other brewing groups throughout the UK, particularly the Cambridge Group where several of our members regularly attend the Cambridge meetings.
We are an informal organisation, with a Co-ordinator, Treasurer and Webmaster. There is an annual membership subscription of £10 which runs from 1st January to 31st December. This entitles members to attend all meetings, be consulted on policy, events etc and to vote, should that be necessary. In addition, they enjoy a discount on bulk purchase of materials (mainly malt and hops). Members also have priority in respect of attending special events if they are over subscribed. Certain events such as the Brewer of the Year competition are members only.
Should non members wish to attend any of our meetings they can do so by contributing £3 per meeting to our club funds. They are not entitled to member benefits.
In addition we have a confidential mailing list on which anyone can ask to be included. People on the mailing list receive notification of meetings and events and of course minutes of our meetings are available on our website.
Meetings are held bi-monthly at various locations throughout the Midlands. We typically hold two annual socials, a brewery visit and an occasional event such as a day dedicated to yeast propagation.
The meetings themselves are informal and friendly although they are structured with a chairman and agenda. The accent is on sharing knowledge and expertise. Normally, there are three standard agenda items for each meeting – tasting and feedback of beers brought to the meeting, a beer clinic to analyse sub-standard beers and a detailed discussion of an aspect of brewing chosen by the chairman for the day.
We normally have a pint or two together before the meeting and there is always an opportunity for some more beer after the meeting for those who can stay on for a while.
Some brewers are not able to attend meetings very often or, indeed, any at all. However they do like to be included on our mailing list so they are kept informed of our activities. There is also a considerable amount of private email exchanges between some of our members on various aspects of brewing, and this can enhance the normal contacts at our meetings and generally improve the brewing experience.
The tasting and feedback of beers brewed by members is an important aspect of our group. The standard of beers has greatly improved over the years and our craft beers now compare very favorably with commercial examples. I am sure that the present high standard of brewing by our members owes much to the comments and advice given over the last few years at our meetings. Having said that, many of us find it quite difficult to do full justice to a beer that is no more than a few sips at the bottom of a half-pint glass. Consequently, anyone wishing to get a more considered opinion on a beer can bring it to a meeting and swop it with another member or indeed give it to one of our more experienced members who will take it home and provide feedback by e-mail.
Experience of craft brewing in the group varies considerably. Some members have been brewing full-mash beers for many years whilst others are just beginning to make the transition from kits. I must stress that you do not need to be an experienced brewer to benefit from belonging to the MCB. Any newcomer who feels they would benefit from being able to attend a brew day with an experienced member should contact me and I will try to arrange it.
The two socials are held usually around Christmas, and the summer. Recent social events at Nottingham, Derby, the Black Country, Sheffield and a joint social with the Cambridge group in Peterborough have been very enjoyable and well attended.
At the end of the day, brewing beer and sampling the results have to be an enjoyable activity and experience. We believe that this enjoyment and our advances in brewing skills have been enhanced by the formation and continued development of the MCB so do please join us and take part as much as you can.
MCB members visiting Grainstore Brewery in 2013 with Tony Davis (Head Brewer and owner) front right.