There’s nothing quite like a meeting of Auckland SOBA members to reinforce just how little I know about beer.

A large group of Auckland SOBAites gathered at Golden Dawn last night for our first mid-week meeting. Golden Dawn is a very trendy bar on the corner of Ponsonby and Richmond Roads –  so trendy, in fact, it doesn’t need signage. There’s a small door about twenty metres from the corner that looks like the entrance to a flat. It’s a bar, however, and what’s more they serve good beer, with four Hallertau beers on tap and a range of bottled beer. The Hallertau beers are great – the Statesman is summery and floral, the Minimalist is hoppy, fresh and low-alcohol and the Copper Tart has a nice mellow-ness to it.

But back to my ignorance. I’m in the minority at Auckland SOBA meetings. Not only am I female, I’m not a home brewer. I’m not sure how it stands in other SOBA localities but it seems that all Auckland SOBA members are home brewers. (I have my own theory that this is because it’s so far in Auckland between one decent bar and the next, but I don’t have the data to back this up).  I don’t home brew and I’ve sworn not to – while I’m a DIY girl at heart, I have far too many hobbies already. I will quite happily swap baking, seedlings or knitting for home brew beer, but I’m not about to set up a home brewery.*

This doesn’t mean I dislike going to SOBA meetings – quite the opposite. Home brewers are much more intimately acquainted with the creation of beer and the SOBAites will willingly and patiently explain many of the mysteries to me. Last night I learnt the difference between wet and dry yeast, what sort of hops go into a NZ Ale and that new stainless kegs need a batch of beer you don’t care about much for the first brew. There’s still concepts I haven’t quite grasped yet – like the use of bittering agents – but that’s why I’ll keep going back. If I knew everything about beer, I’d probably just stay home and drink and that’s not a healthy lifestyle choice.

So if you like to drink, brew or talk about beer, I’d suggest joining SOBA. For your health if nothing else.

*At one point last night I think I may have offered home-made salami in exchange for home brew. For the record I’m not sure how to make salami or why I was offering to make it.