Since mid 2011, Nelson SOBA members have been meeting on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm. The meets are held in different bars, some of which the members may not have been to before. In each case there will be a selection of Craft Beers from one of the many breweries within the area. This also encourages owner to take an interest in SOBA.
The venues are alternately, in the city and in the surrounding area. This seems to work with around 10 people attending each time. Whilst this is not maybe an ideal time – what is? – at least there is room to move and talk is possible. At first we tried offering a mystery beer to identify. One that was not necessarily available in that bar. $1 was put into the pot with each entry and the winner took 50%, the balance going to local funds. A darts evening and an evening for U3A Nelson with their guests from Christchurch have taken place and Dominoes are to feature in the future.
Since many of the members are home brewers, it has been suggested that the group meet at a member’s home and sample each other’s brews. (Similar to a crate-swap.) The meets are included in the Community Notices of the local free newspapers at no cost. Most months there are two or three new faces as the result of this. The group has its own email address [email protected] and its own bank account with the local building society. This cannot be overdrawn, attracts no tax but gets interest paid on the balance. The account was necessary, to have funds available for publicity of events in the Region, deposits for accommodation and for entry fees to these to be paid into.
The first event was a Homebrew competition, which attracted over 30 beers from 25 different brewers, not all of them SOBA members and many entering a competition for the first time. It was designed as a ‘fun’ event and so it turned out. With this experience under their belt a 2nd one is in the pipeline. Next came a weekend for SOBA members from around the country. This started at the Free House on Friday evening, included two breweries and a hop farm on Saturday and yet another brewery on Sunday before returning to Nelson in the afternoon. (Some even managed yet another brewery then!) There will be a repeat of this in early October 2012.
In the planning stage is a Beer and Food matching competition for chefs working locally. Membership has been seen to increase during this time and the number of outlets offering a discount has also increased. This without asking! Peter Mayes and Bill Fennell are the self-appointed joint co-ordinators for the group. Bill Fennell has been active in the Nelson area since 2007 and was the only member until he began distributing the Pursuit of Hoppiness SOBA newsletters, which led to a broader awareness of SOBA, and therefore, an increase in membership numbers.