Home brewing clubs are becoming popular again - have a look at our groups page. OK, there are not the hundreds that there were in the 1970s, but there are a few more than the handful of survivors that greeted the new century.

A beer circle is a club that meets typically monthly on a weekday evening, to taste and comment on each other's beers. Each member brings a beer they've brewed and it's passed round for discussion and comment. The brewer then reveals the details of its making and further discussion ensues. Beers are tasted in order of flavour intensity; for example lagers; then bitters and pale ales; then milds, stouts and porters, working up the gravity range for each group. Other activities for a circle can include bringing a single style of beer one month, trying to reproduce a commercial beer; comparing members' efforts at a given recipe or once you're getting consistent results, trying a basic recipe with variations in malt or hops.

A good size for a circle is six to twelve people, fewer's fine, but over 18 is starting to get unmanageable. Participants need to bring one bottle of beer up to about nine people, two beyond that. At the moment, the Darlington, Beeston (Nottingham), Cheltenham, Gloucester, Beds & Herts (Luton), County (East London), Durden Park (West London), North Hampshire and Solent groups fall into this category. A new circle is being set up in London. The regional groups in Scotland, the North, the Midlands and East Anglia have similar activities as part of their meetings, which are typically quarterly at weekends.