MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As the weather cools off, the demand has stayed hot for home brewing supplies at Northern Brewer on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, even during the pandemic.
“Almost immediately when the shutdown started happening and people started staying at home more, the sales started rising and we had to figure out how to fill the orders while keeping everybody safe here,” said Todd Jackson from Northern Brewer.
Once they were able to reopen their store, customers returned, and some newcomers started to pick up the hobby.
“Beer in general is socializing so that’s kind of complicated for the industry as a whole on the beer side, but on the home brewing side it does let you into the experimental, figuring things out on your own, learning more about beer and you have time,” said Jackson.
Patrick Leuschke of Eagan has been home brewing for more than a decade and has even built an addition onto his house to contain his ever-expanding beer lab.
“I started on the stove and a bucket from Northern,” he said. “It’s like anything, like people who enjoy cooking, it’s very similar. It’s rewarding to see a beer turn out well after spending so much time on it. One hour of setup, four to five hours of brewing, then an hour of cleanup, and that’s not to mention the months it’s going to spend in the fermenter.”
As soon as the wort – the unfermented beer mixture – boils, it’s time to add in the hops.
“We’re adding our bittering hops in and I try to be a little careful with this as it tends to boil over,” said Leuschke. “We’ll stir that in a bit or else it’ll settle in the middle.”
Leuschke also grows his own hops on the side of his house. “Hops last forever in the freezer and with the fancy fermenters here, it’s really easy to reuse yeast and yeast gets better the more you use it,” he said.
“I think there’s a strong chance that we’re going to continue to perform where we’re currently at with COVID. I think people are reminded of things they did when time was on their side, and I think that’s going to last for a while,” said Jackson.
To learn more about Northern Brewer, click here.