Chorley-born pals Dan Warbrick, Kieron Ellison and Chris Griffiths are building on the success of the North-West Beer Appreciation Society (NWBAS) by hosting a pub crawl along the 125 Preston to Bolton bus route on Saturday, February 26, starting at 11am at The Moorbrook in North Road.
The trio set up the Preston-based beer group on Facebook during the first lockdown to help replace pub communities.
Dan, 33, who now lives in Lostock Hall, said: "It was a bit of a laugh at the start. People were furloughed and the pubs were shut so we were having a pint on Fridays on Zoom and we said, 'Let's make a group.'
"We'd take a picture of a beer and give it a review, and the amount of people who started getting involved is insane. It's incredible. When we hit 100 members, it was a big deal. Then when we hit 500, it was an even bigger deal. And then we grew to 800 within a month. And it keeps growing. People want to be part of it because they love being in a group. The feeling of community and camaraderie is something they have missed. We're very community-driven, and we're now quite well-known around Preston, Chorley and Adlington."
"It's partly bewildering. We weren't expecting it to grow into something so big so quickly. It started as three mates pratting around on Zoom but now we have a responsibility to these people. We've made new friends - people we'd never even spoken to before. We've made people feel welcome," said Dan.
The society's popularity has attracted sponsors for beer quizzes by local and national major breweries, allowing it to offer member giveaways over the Christmas period. It has even launched its own T-shirt and hoodies for members, which sold out in the first week, and has helped to design a collaborative beer recipe called We Met at the Gig with Chain House Brewing Co. in Longton. The recipe name was inspired by the trio's friendship, which began at a gig at Chorley Community Centre.
"It's amazing, 100 percent a bit of a dream [to have helped design an ale], and they approached us, which is awesome. It's cool. I've got a beer mat at home saying We Met at The Gig," said Dan.
A second collaborative beer is in the pipeline, this time with Withnell's Brew Co. in Chorley. The public is invited to try out various craft ales by the brewery from noon on Sunday, February 6.
Following that, is the pub crawl, with Dan adding: "To attend, join the Facebook group. There's no membership fee and no, 'You haven't got the T-shirt so you're not in the clique.'
"It's a friendly environment."