Local homebrewers part of nationwide trend

It will come as no surprise to homebrewers that the hobby has become as robust as a Baltic Porter. But even the most experienced brewer may find interesting just how much the craft has grown recently.

According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are 1.1 million people in the U.S. who brew their own beer at home. A study in 2017 found that 40-percent of those enthusiasts started the hobby in the last four years.

“Homebrewing, in our opinion, is the greatest hobby there is, and the state of the hobby—underscored by homebrewers’ passion, commitment and creativity—is strong,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “The numbers show that we have a lot to look forward to in the years ahead, as the hobby is evolving and expanding, reaching Americans in every region and every corner of the country.”

Twenty-six percent of homebrewers live here in the Midwest – including Hugh Gardner and Lloyd Chatham. Both are members of the Tippecanoe Home Brewers.

Local Homebrewing Club

“Home brewing is part art and part science,” said Chatham. 

“And for some of us, it’s more one than the other,” added Gardner, who admitted he leans more toward the art side. Chatham – the science.

“Repeatability becomes challenging when you learn toward the art side,” chuckled Chatham.

Gardner recalled the time he thought he was adding cinnamon to a batch of ginger beer. It was actually cayenne pepper. 

“It turned out all right, though,” laughed Gardner. (This author remains a big fan of that cayenne – ginger beer, by the way!) 

Tippecanoe Home Brewers has been around in some form or another, since about 1980. Charter members said back then, there weren’t microbreweries. The beer selection at the local stores were “pretty dismal.”

They found that cheap, tasty beer could be brewed at home. And from there, they say people became interested and a lively community of brewers took shape. 

Members describe it as a mostly social occasion to taste each other's brews, share recipes and learn from each other. 

Today, the club boasts about 200 followers. Regular attenders at the groups monthly gatherings number about 15 or 20 for monthly meetings. There is an $12 annual membership fee. But Chatham and Gardner admitted it’s a voluntary fee. They’re more interested in the camaraderie and the educational aspects of homebrewing.

Supporting Local Breweries

It can be said that home brewers have had an impact on the commercial craft brewery boom. Many craft breweries started in someone’s basement. Chatham and Gardner say that’s the case with several local breweries as well. 

Today, they say the Tippecanoe Home Brewers strive to support all local breweries. Their meetings are held on the second floor of Lafayette Brewing Company. They travel to each local brewery regularly to enjoy the latest beer on tap. And they’d like to invite you to join them. Click here for a link to more information on Tippecanoe Home Brewers. 

Find out more about them on the following sites:


- Dustin Grove, co-owner, Brokerage Brewing Company