Rediscovering Homebrewing During Covid

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Joe Damgaard’s homebrewing story started 12 years ago. An impromptu brew day with a neighbor quickly evolved into a point of passion, with a stockpile of homebrewing gear and bubbling fermenters to boot.

As Joe’s interest in homebrewing grew, so did his family. The weekends that were once spent mashing and sparging were now featuring epic swing-set sessions and tricycle expeditions.

The following is Joe’s story of rediscovering his passion for homebrewing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 2020. The world had become a very strange place amidst the Coronavirus crises, and I found myself with a new lifestyle that involved a lot more time at home. Lucky for me, I had my trusty old brewing equipment, a local homebrew shop with curbside pickup, and a semi-urgent need to fill my beer fridge. It was the perfect storm to get me back into one of my favorite pastimes: homebrewing.

I put together a simple recipe for an all-grain pale ale and ordered all the ingredients from my local homebrew shop. After unearthing my mash tun, kettle, and brew stand from the stroller collection, I scrubbed and dusted everything free of a few layers of neglect. I was ready for my weekend brew day.

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On Sunday morning I was ready to go. And so were the kids. We decided to burn off some energy (and avoid potential mutiny) with a neighborhood scavenger hunt, thinking there could be some brew/nap time overlap.

At 1:00 p.m., the kids crashed from all the morning excitement and I was getting a little worried about my late start. I decided to call an audible and pull out the brew bag I purchased years ago in hopes of shortening the brew day. Did I mention I have a stockpile of brew equipment?

I heated up my strike water in about 20 minutes and was ready to start mashing in. The family slowly started to make their way outside to join the brew day and get in some strider bike laps.

Once it was time for the boil, my oldest daughter (5) decided it would be best if she oversaw the hop additions. A brew assistant! Her tenure in this role came to an end after a quick but well-executed first hop addition. We also discovered the time in between hop additions was perfect for a rowdy game of tag.

The rest of the day was spent smelling the sweet wort steaming off the kettle, taking in the beautiful Colorado weather, and enjoying some quality time outside with my family. And, like clockwork, as soon as the boil had ended and it was time to clean, I seemed to be the only one left on the patio. I forgot about that part.

All in all, I had a great day. I got to spend a lovely day in the backyard with my family while rediscovering my love for creating brews to share with neighbors. I also learned, or maybe reinforced, the idea that I should never be afraid to call an audible on brew day to make things work. And last, but not least, I learned that even in uncertain times, I can still revisit the advice of our friend Charlie Papazian: relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew!

Joe-vid Pale Ale Recipe

Here is the recipe for my COVID apocolypse ale, a.k.a Joe-vid Pale Ale.

Ingredients for 5.25 gallons:

Malts & Adjuncts:

  • 11 lb 2-row malt
  • 1 lb Vienna malt
  • 0.63 lb Crystal 20 malt
  • 0.5 lb Melanodin malt
  • 0.5 lb Carapils malt

Hops:

  • 1 oz Citra – 20 min
  • 1 oz Mosaic – 10 min
  • 1 oz Citra – 5 min
  • 1 oz Citra – flameout
  • 1 oz Mosaic  –  flameout
  • 2 oz Citra –  dry hop

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1968

Instructions:

Mash at 153° F. 60 minute boil. Ferment at 67° F, adding dry hops to fermenter after primary fermentation.