By W Bro Neil Marshall
The Masonic Craft Beer Society, founded last May at the height of the first lockdown, was first featured in Issue 42 of Arena. Since then, the Society has grown from strength to strength – and is looking at establishing a permanent home under Metropolitan Grand Lodge.
In the last article, we talked about our Facebook group of 2000+ members, the £1000 we raised for foodbank charity Fareshare through an online raffle, and our fortnightly ‘happy hours’ over Zoom. But with the return to Freemasonry in full force still seeming distant on the horizon, we wanted to explore other ways of bringing our Society ever-closer together.
To help grow the Society, the committee expanded with W Bro Neil Marshall and Bro Andrew Bond, both of Lodge of Faith and Friendship No 7326, and the committee’s first non-Metropolitan Mason, Bro Adam Mills, joining the initial trio of W Bro Neil-Thomas Allen, Bro Josh Worley and Bro Tim Hillier-Brook. We decided that “virtual beer tastings” were something that would appeal to a good cross-section of society.
Bro Adam volunteered to find a craft brewery with a range of beers to make the evening interesting and the logistical capabilities to bring our idea to life. After talking to several breweries, he negotiated a great deal with Thornbridge Brewery – they would put together a curated beer box, supply a speciality tasting glass, host a tasting session, and arrange all the logistics for getting the beer to the Brethren. All we had to do was sell the idea to our members. But would it take off, or were people too ‘Zoomed out’ for another night in front of a screen? Setting an ambitious target of 50 people, Bro Josh designed flyers and promotional material and created a new shopfront on the website to sell tickets and collect details for delivery. The response was astounding, with over 120 people buying tickets for the night! It was a roaring success – everyone had a blast, people discovered styles of beer they’d never tried before, and the conversation went on until the small hours of the morning.
We decided to make the virtual tastings a regular event and showcase local craft breweries from around the country. Bro Andrew, being a Devon-based experienced retailer with contacts in breweries across the south-west, arranged for a tasting box through Premier Stores Torbay Central. He swiftly arranged for Exeter Brewery to provide the beers and logistics for the next tasting session, together with guest beers from Bays Brewery and Hunter’s Brewery. With over 100 people signing up for the night, it was another great success.
With more tasting evenings on the horizon, we started to turn our minds towards what might lie in store for the MCBS in a post-Covid world. We had kicked around a few ideas but were presented with an opportunity we couldn’t refuse – to take over a Lodge and convert it into a craft beer Lodge! Things are well underway for this new venture – officers have been recruited, by-laws have been drafted, locations have been scouted, and (most importantly) breweries have been contacted. Rest assured that the resumption of Freemasonry will see the MCBS take its first regular steps into the formal Masonic world, and we hope to see many of you there with us.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the MCBS Lodge, please visit http://www.masonicbeer.com/lodge. The MCBS’ Facebook group is open to all Masons, which you can find by searching Facebook for “Masonic Craft Beers Society” and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @masonicbeer – cheers!
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.