The Maltose Falcons were founded in 1974 by Merlin Elhardt. In 1978, the club pushed towards legalizing homebrewing and was subsequently invited to the initial signing of the Bates bill to legalize it in California. The bill was eventually signed by Governor Brown on July 19, 1978. Gotta’ love Jerry. I mean, how many governors studied Buddhism in Japan, ministered to the sick with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and dated Linda Ronstadt? It could only be Governor Moonbeam. But, I digress.
The Maltose Falcon’s were also instrumental in working with California Senator Alan Cranston to submit his bill to legalize homebrewing throughout the U.S. The Falcon's Hall of Fame reads like the who's who in the brewing industry.
Introducing Nancy Gold, Mother Falcon in Charge ~
1. What’s your background/college?
I was born in Santa Monica California about 20,000 years ago, which makes me 52 years old. I went to almost every community college in the greater Los Angeles area, at one time or another, but never got any kind of degree. I have no official brewing education.
2. How long have you been the president of the Maltose Falcons?
I am halfway through my second term as the president of the Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society. Before that I was on the board as secretary for four years.
3. What makes the Maltose Falcons Homebrew Society different from some of the other clubs out there?
Our club is the oldest homebrewing club in the country, going strong since 1974. We are a pretty large group, with up-to-date memberships hovering close to 300 people. We host several competitions each year including our Mayfaire Competition with over 500 entries this year. Our other competitions are the Doug King Memorial Competition, and an Oktoberfest Competition. We also run the Los Angeles County Fair competition. We have weekend campouts (with lots of homebrew) three times a year. In our club we pride ourselves in brewing education as well. We teach a brew 101 beginning class every month and an all-grain, hands on brew class one Sunday a month. Once every two years we hold a six-week training course for the Beer Judge Certification Program, which culminates in the BJCP exam. At each of our monthly meetings we have a style education talk and a technical demonstration of some kind. There are always skilled brewers available to help folks solve problems and improve their brewing skills.
4. Anchor Steam Brewery awarded The Falcons California Homebrew Club of the Year in 2010. What other/how many awards have the club received over the years?
The Maltose Falcons have received the Anchor Homebrew Club of the Year award seven times, in 1987, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2010.
5. You’re the first female president of the Maltose Falcons. Has this affected the perception of homebrewing and/or the club?
I think that having a female president is encouraging to women brewers in this very male dominated hobby/profession. Perhaps it makes them feel a little more at home.
6. How many women are members of the Maltose Falcons today? Has this grown since you took over as president?
Each year lately, the number of female brewers in our club increases. We are seeing a substantial increase in twenty-something year-old women picking up that mash paddle. It's great. With that said, our membership is still only about 10 percent women, probably up from about three or four percent a couple of years back. I really don't know if this has anything to do with me, I just think more women are getting into it. If I can lend any encouragement to them, I will be happy.
7. When did you first decide to homebrew and what interested you in it?
My first attempt at brewing was back in the dark ages (1979) when I was nineteen years old, hmm, is that right? I must have been twenty-one :). That was back before you could even get Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. My love of beer, and the lack of good beer on the market at that time drove me to it. I went to the Home Beer Wine and Cheese Making Shop in Woodland Hills, CA and got the ingredients. It came out terrible, yuck! It was awful, but I drank it anyway!
8. Do you continue to homebrew? If so, how often? Any awards?
I didn't brew again until about twelve years ago. My neighbor Cyrena Nouzille, (now of Ladyface Ale Companie), had brewed a batch and we started brewing together. Then another neighbor, Dave Griffiths, (also now of Ladyface Ale Companie), taught us how to brew all-grain. I bought a Beer, Beer and more beer Brew Sculpture and put it in my kitchen. I've been brewing ten gallon batches on it ever since. I love to make good beer, and I really love it when a friend enjoys the beer that I brewed myself. It makes me proud. It's a good feeling. I brew about once or twice a month. Of course I don't make more than the legal limit per year, unless it's by accident, sometimes I forget to write things down... I've received some blue ribbons from various competitions, and a Best of class from the Stern Grove competition in Northern California for a Doppelbock I brewed with Kent Fletcher (also a Falcon board member). I don't enter a lot of competitions because I don't bottle my beer. I'm a kegger. That is one thing I would like to change in my brewing. I would like to enter more competitions. Ah. A new goal. I love hops. I really love hops. I brew a lot of IPAs, Double IPAs and Imperial IPAs. But sometimes I brew other stuff too.
9. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve brewed with?
One beer that I like to brew is a wit dry-hopped with mint, basil and tarragon. It's really great with a big chunk of French Feta and some flatbread. Beer and food pairing interests me. Have you every tried Stone's Double Bastard with pineapple? Wow. If you enjoy cooking, choosing a beer to go with a meal can be a lot of fun.
10. What would you say to women that want to get in the craft beer/brewing industry?
Gals, go for it!
11. What’s your perception of women that brew today and how it’s changed over the past decade, or so?
It seems that in the last even just three or four years I have heard of and met many more women in professional brewing than I had before. This number is going up fast. It's great to see.
Also, women enjoying beer is skyrocketing. When I was young and in love with beer, I was a bit unusual, most women I knew drank wine. I think those days are over. There are so many styles of beer available on the market now and so many recipes for the homebrewers, that there seems to be something for everybody. If you love beer, give homebrewing a try. You might just find yourself starting a whole new profession.
Cheers to that. Thank you for your amazing contribution to the world of craft beer, Nancy!