BY CARMEN SIERING
Finding craft beer in Bloomington isn’t difficult, but for some hardcore beer aficionados, the fact that you can purchase beer you love is no reason to stop crafting it yourself. Better yet is the ability to share that beer with other homebrewers, get some feedback, and try a sample of what they’ve been brewing.
That’s the thinking behind Bloomington Hop Jockeys (BHJ), a local homebrew club started in 2004 with just four members. Nowadays, anywhere from a dozen to 30 brewers meet at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Upland’s West Side Beer Bar, 4060 Profile Parkway, to share homebrews, talk about beer, and participate in beer-related activities.
Everyone is welcome, says club president Rod Myers. “We have guys who’ve been brewing for 10 years or more, but we also have people who haven’t even started brewing come to meetings,” he says. And it’s not just guys. There are women in the club, too.
The Hop Jockeys hold a group brew day a couple of times a year and an occasional Brew with a Buddy Day. “We all do things a little differently,” says Myers, who’s been brewing for five years. “We all learn from each other.”
Putting their skills to good use, the club has offered to brew 15 gallons of beer for the Monroe County Humane Association’s (MCHA) 60th anniversary gala, Tails on the Town. Kimberly Goy, MCHA events and donor communications coordinator, says the 160 bottles of homebrew will be gifts for attendees at the April 23 fundraiser.
Besides helping other community groups, the Hop Jockeys work to promote themselves, brewing at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in the spring, pouring at craft beer festivals, and generally raising awareness about homebrewing wherever they can.
Abel Garcia is the club’s events coordinator. He wears his black BHJ shirt to events and explains who the Hop Jockeys are to anyone who asks. “We definitely promote it,” he says. “It’s like anything else you’re passionate about. You seek out other people who are also passionate about it.”
For more information, visit hopjockeys.org.