The Champaign-Urbana Beer Club is an organization that promotes the enjoyment of quality craft beer from throughout the world. It was founded in December of 2003 at the Piccadilly Beverage store on South Neil Street, Champaign, IL, during one of their weekly beer tastings. Fifteen people in attendance signed up on the spot.
The first meetings were held in the home of club founder, Edward (later referred to as Your Dark Lord for his fondness of that Three Floyds brew). Members brought beer related to the theme of the evening and food was provided. Besides bringing beer, members also brought friends and the club grew. By Spring of 2004 the club outgrew Edward’s home and he worked a deal with Crane Alley, 115 West Main Street,Urbana, IL, to meet there for their monthly meetings. The club has been meeting there on the third Wednesday of the month ever since. Owner Scott Glassman and his staff have been gracious hosts.
The monthly meetings have a theme which is posted in the newsletter that appears on the Website. Themes range from the ridiculous to the sublime and members are asked to being 24 to 36 ounces of a particular beer so that everyone might sample some. The meetings start at 6:30 PM with dinner at Crane Alley. After dinner comes the tasting. Through travel and trade, members often obtain beers that are not distributed in Illinois and bring these to our monthly gathering. Meetings often include some of the highest-acclaimed and rarest beers in the world. Approximately half of the Top 50 Beers in the world (according to Ratebeer.com) have been shared at a Champaign-Urbana Beer Club’s monthly meeting.
Membership grew and the distribution list for the weekly newsletter had over seventy people. The newsletter is no longer emailed but can be found on this Website. Members range in age from twenty-one to over sixty. The majority are in the twenty to thirty age range. Most are either grad students or professionals, representing such fields as medicine, computers, teaching, engineering, veterinary medicine, and University administration. It is a diverse group with a common love of fine craft beer. Beer is not, however, the only topic discussed when members meet. Discussions ensue on a wide variety of subjects: music, sports, movies, food, politics, and history, to name a few.
Members also gather occasionally at one another’s homes for impromptu beer tastings or specialized tastings of a specific style, such as stouts or barley wines. Many members travel to visit breweries and brewpubs throughout the United States and abroad, bringing home bottles of beer to share with the club. Some are involved with beer trading and some even home brew. Some make regular purchases of hard-to-get beers online and share with the club. The club also organizes trips to beer festivals, breweries, brewpubs, and other beer related events. Several of the club members submit ratings of the beers they taste to RateBeer at www.ratebeer.com, a free access Website for the beer lover.
On the first Wednesday of the month, there is a Happy Hour at Mike & Molly’s, 105 North Market Street, Champaign,IL. Mike & Molly’s is one of several local establishments that interact with the beer club. Others are listed elsewhere on the Website.
Over the years of its existence, the Champaign-Urbana Beer Club has been featured on WCIA Channel 3 twice and has been featured in articles in local newspapers.
With many members being students at the University of Illinois, there is some turnover as they graduate and move on to other locations. Most keep in touch. Many friendships have developed among members and even a romance or two along the way. There have been weddings, births, and other significant events among members, often shared in some way with the club. Some will say that the beer may have been what brought them to the club, but it is the people who kept them here.
Like live yeast (okay, that’s a stretch), the club is constantly changing. New members bring new ideas. Changes in the C-U beer scene influence activities. But the club has endured.
We extend an invitation to you to be a part of our family.