With a membership of 25, the club, which began in 2007 with six members, has taken off in a way that mirrors the growth of home brewing throughout the region.
There are now nearly a dozen clubs in the region, with Bruclear in Limerick, Berks Homebrew Club, and Main Line Brewers Association having formed since Stoney Creek's inception. This means there are now more club-sponsored competitions, as well as more participants.
New home-brew stores, such as Weak Knee in Pottstown and Artisan Homebrew in Downingtown, have opened. And Jason Harris, who has a store in Bethlehem, upgraded and expanded his Montgomery Keystone Homebrew store, moving into a 24,000-square-foot space. All of those stores complement the pioneering stalwart of supply stores, Home Sweet Homebrew at 20th and Sansom (see accompanying story).
There's also an ever-increasing number of contests that breweries both local and national are hosting throughout the region.
But more dramatic is the increase in attendance for the area's flagship amateur brewing competition: War of the Worts, hosted by Keystone. In 2008, there were roughly 460 entrants; last year, participation was up to 765. And more than 900 entrants are expected at this year's War competition on Saturday.
Dock Street offers a West Philly-only home brewers competition. Dogfish Head hosts the Extreme Homebrew Challenge, with the winner getting to brew at its facility - and have the end result featured at its brewpub.
Last year's Philly Beer Week saw the first Iron Brewer Competition. Hosted by the Farmer's Cabinet, this "beat the brewer" competition features the last-minute naming of a secret ingredient or adjunct, Iron Chef-style.
Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams have been hosting competitions here for years, and for further evidence of cooperation between the pros and the home-brew scene, magazines such as Brew Your Own have published recipes from the likes of Victory Brewing Co.
"The craft beer community was born out of home brewing," says Larry Horwitz, regional brewer at Iron Hill Brewery.
Much like Iron Hill's founders Kevin Finn and Mark Edelson, he got his start in home brewing - and he hasn't left it behind.
"It's our roots, so we try to support home-brew clubs at each of our locations," Horwitz says. "We give home-brew ingredients to all of our employees and encourage them to make their own."
Other area brewers who started at home: Tom Kehoe of Yards, Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski of Victory, and Jason Kohser of Boxcar Brewing of West Chester.
Home brewer Scott Ruddich, a Stoney Creek member, is awaiting state approvals to open his retail operation, Round Guys Brewing, in Lansdale. "Pretty much everyone I've come across has been incredibly helpful, since they started the same way," he says.
He points to Horwitz's pivotal role in training so many beer judges across the region with frequently held classes.
Then there's the crucial advice he received from Kohser at Boxcar, as well as Rob Demaria at Prism on the logistics of opening a brewery; the tour of Victory Brewing Co., where Stoney Creek Homebrewer members chatted with the head brewer for two hours; or the highly technical question that was readily answered, via e-mail, by brew master Vinne Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, Calif.).
"Vinnie Cilurzo's a . . . rock star," said Ruddich. "That just does not happen in other fields."
Staying connected only makes sense given that's it good, quality beer that binds the pros and the home brewers together.
"Only recently have mainstream brewers been willing to expand their beer offerings - to add something with flavor. That's because of the grassroots effort that changed everything," Horwitz says.
Justin Quinlan, an assistant brewer at Dock Street, agrees: "Without this community, we wouldn't be able to survive," he says.
Indeed, every brewer he's worked with at Dock Street since the brewery's move to West Philly got a start in home brewing.
Quinlan jumped on as an occasional volunteer, slowly working his way up, gaining more and more insight into the brewing process until he was hired full time.
"With Dock Street being a smaller brewery, it's not that dissimilar to home brewing - it's very hands-on, lugging around bags of grain and monitoring temperatures. . . ."
"Most of these people are our raving fans, so why wouldn't we help them?" Horwitz says, laughing.