A new group that brings craft beer fans and homebrewing hobbyists together is starting to bubble up here in Knox County.
Tyler Simmons and Geoffrey Goodwin — real estate agent and funeral director by day, homebrewers by night — have joined forces to create the Knox County Homebrewers Association, which will host its first meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Vincennes Brewing Co., 124 Main St.
Simmons, a self-proclaimed “beer snob” who doesn't drink domestics, first took the dive into homebrewing and convinced Goodwin to join him. They began dabbling in the hobby together about a year ago and recently upgraded to a much larger homebrewing system.
“It's been a slow process — it takes a month for a batch to ferment — but we're learning and starting to appreciate what some of the brewers do,” Simmons said.
As their interest in homebrewing continued to grow, the owners of the Vincennes Brewing Co. — Chris and Patti Coffey, Charlie Bedwell, and the late Dr. William “Kip” Bedwell — together worked to transform an antique store into Vincennes' first brewery since 1933.
The doors opened in August and it was Coffey, Simmons said, who first mentioned the idea of getting a homebrewers association started.
Since Coffey co-owns the craft brewery and would technically be classified as a small brewer, Simmons explained, he and Goodwin instead decided to take the reins and get the association off the ground.
“We've been prepping a little bit, but we're coming into it blind,” Simmons said. “We've never ran anything like this before so we're starting from the bottom.”
Simmons and Goodwin said the association aims to provide an opportunity for everyone to come together at the same table, enjoy some beers, share tips and bounce ideas off one another.
“We just figured the community needed an association where they could all get together and homebrew some beers,” Goodwin said. “I'm still finding people that are homebrewing here that I had no clue about.
“It's not real popular, but with the new brewery opening, I think people are getting more interested.”
Simmons, too, noted that there are a handful of locals who actually do homebrewing as a hobby and work full-time jobs that range across all aspects of business, from attorneys to utility company employees.
It's an appealing hobby to all sorts of different people, Simmons and Goodwin agree, particularly because it provides a certain degree of frothy freedom.
“I'm out to try as many beers as possible, but a lot of these craft breweries, like 3 Floyds Brewing Co., don't brew enough to get into southern Indiana often and when they do, there are waiting lists at the stores around here,” Simmons said. “But with homebrewing, we can brew what we want and not have to wait for it to come out.
“We can even do a clone recipe that's really close to a certain beer type.”
There's a flexibility the comes hand in hand with homebrewing, Goodwin agreed, that allows the brewer to add different flavors and make adjustments to their hoppy heart's content.
Both novice and advanced homebrewers are welcome to attend the Knox County Homebrewers Association meetings, and the group is open to anyone who's interested in craft beer — even those who might not want to dabble in homebrewing themselves.
“All people are welcome, from those with no knowledge to guys or gals who brew every weekend,” Goodwin said.
This evening's meeting is going to be a preliminary “startup meeting,” Simmons said, where they'll discuss what they want to accomplish and see if there are any other suggestions.
Their hope is to meet monthly in order to provide as much help and benefits as possible to homebrewers, and to share the ins and outs of the hobby with anyone who's curious — as long as they're at least 21 years old, of course.
“We'll do memberships, we'll have guest speakers who talk to us about different kinds of beers, and we'll maybe do some brewery tours in different cities later down the road,” Goodwin said. “We'll just see where it goes from the start.”
Stay up-to-date on all the Knox County Homebrewers Association happenings by liking the group's page on Facebook.