I had the pleasure of once again addressing the James River Homebrew Club at one of their meetings at Legends Brewery, Richmond, VA. These are the guys who will be handling the beer for the upcoming World Beer Festival – Richmond, and a perfect bunch for the job without a doubt.

So, how could I tell, on walking into the room, that this was a bunch of homebrewers?

On a recent flight from Atlanta to Phoenix I noticed a particular tone to about half of the passengers. A lot of black clothes, flat billed hats, diverse facial hair, dead-eyed stare; clearly all members of the same tribe. A few questions to my seat mate and I learned all about the motocross event the night before and even met the 5th place winner.

Homebrewers aren’t quite that easy to pick out. Sure, they have a similar appearance, but not that distinctive. The middle girth could be wider than norm, but not universally. Just a little rough around the edges, possibly. Maybe. Definitely no drama or ostentatiousness.

But it’s more in the attitude. The room buzzed with bonhomie. Everyone had a grin on their face, a conspiratorial grin. And they could talk, almost exclusively about beer. A sample glass was in each person’s hand and they were all tasting from a wide range of homebrews brought in by club members.

Now think about that. This is a crack bunch of amateur brewers, medal winners, certified judges, and serious beer dudes. And you bring in your own beer and offer it up?

There in lies the defining characteristic of a homebrewer. Their amazing self-confidence. Frankly, often completely justified. I had some painfully beautiful beers that night that were a wonder to enjoy.

As I recently wrote about my experiences with SweetWater’s Brewer Your Cask Off, homebrewers are supremely assured and knowledgeable about what works and doesn’t work in homebrewing. Whether they are correct or not is a whole other question. To paraphrase an old saw: you can put three homebrewers in a room and have four different opinions about any and everything.

The James River Homebrew Club is no different. They are passionate about brewing. They enjoy a heated discussion, no feathers get ruffled. And they make drop-dead gorgeous beers. They have no qualms about sharing their beer because they know it is the best that they are making and they are going to make even better soon.

So, readers, if you don’t know any homebrewers I suggest you go make some friends. For the price of a bit of tendentious beer geek talk, you’ll experience some wonderful beer and wonderful company.

Let me hear from you readers; what is it with homebrewers?