As the coronavirus pandemic continues, and bars and brewery taprooms remain closed for on-site consumption as part of concerted efforts to suppress the infection’s spread, you’re likely drinking more than usual at home.
A few weeks ago, we looked at the growing trend of beer enthusiasts digging into their cherished collections and opening special bottles during quarantine. But in these uncertain times, it turns out that many of us — including brewers — are reaching for what’s easy, as well as what comforts us in these uncertain times.
While social distancing, we spoke to 15 brewers about what they’ve been drinking while sheltering in place. It turns out, they’re reaching for everything from bourbon-barrel-aged barleywines to triple-hopped lagers — and yes, hazy IPAs.
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“It’s a simple answer: Sante Adarius’ Amongst Friends, a barrel-aged, mixed-fermentation beer with cherries. Featuring soft, subtle acidity, which is rare amongst cherry mixed-ferm beers, this wasn’t bracing in any way. And it was gone from my glass too soon, just like times spent with close friends, cooking up tacos or pizza when general revelry was involved. A beer I wish I had been able to share amongst more friends, but look forward to in the future.” — Zac Ross, Owner and Brewer, Marlowe Artisanal Ales, New Haven, Conn.
“The most comforting beer I’ve had during quarantine is easily the All Together IPA, a worldwide collaboration spearheaded by Other Half that’s supporting hospitality professionals. Since I’ve been self-isolating down in Miami the past month, I picked up the version brewed by Tripping Animals, and wow, did this beer have me missing Brooklyn more than ever. It immediately reminded me of riding the G train all the way to the Smith & 9th Streets stop, and taking a routine photo of the Manhattan skyline before taking the short walk over to Other Half. I’m looking forward to the day that I can get back to the city, but until then I‘ll bide my time in Florida and watch people make bread.” — Kyle Gonzales, NYC Field Marketing, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn
“I’m drinking some funk right now, because that’s what we like and focus on. We had a couple of collaborations that we had to shelve the first week of shutdown in Minnesota. One of those collaborations was with Branch & Bone Artisan Ales. A few weeks prior, their team sent us their house yeast culture along with a few of their bottles. One was Silence Mill, a gin-barrel-aged, mixed-fermentation saison with local honey. I had this beer in Chicago at FOBAB, where it medaled, and then had one last night after a long day of delivering beer, doing what we can to keep the doors open. The beer reminded me of simpler and less chaotic times.” — Jason Sandquist, Co-founder, Wild Mind Artisan Ales, Minneapolis
“I’ve had a love affair with Oxbow’s Italian-style pilsner Luppolo since my first sip, and it’s everything I want in a beer: crisp, citrusy, floral, malty, and dry AF. The head’s incredibly pillowy and fluffy, which always makes me smile. With a lot more free time on my hands, Luppolo is perfect at 5 percent ABV because I need to treat each day like a marathon, not a sprint. It’s my safety beer even when the world isn’t turned upside down.” — Jen Wyllie, Director of Marketing and Events, Austin Street Brewery, Portland, Me.
“Jarl by Scotland’s Fyne Ales is a session blonde ale hopped with Citra that you can drink throughout the afternoon and well into the evening. However, don’t be fooled by it’s low 3.8 percent ABV; Jarl is packed full of citrus flavors and a really clean, refreshing finish. And what has elevated it into my top lockdown tipple is its availability in 5-liter mini-casks, meaning you can pour yourself a full pint (remember them?) within the comfort of your own home! Which, if you’re like me and you’re missing pubs and well-kept cask beer, this really will provide you with some comfort.” — Harriet Edgar, Brand Development, 71 Brewing, Dundee, Scotland
“You would think that drinking during quarantine would mean a beer you can crush throughout the day, but I’m a hophead at heart. My usual go-to is a clean, crisp, refreshing West Coast IPA. Yet during this lockdown, my faith in hazy IPAs has been restored with Equilibrium’s scientific approach to the fundamental process of brewing. Its dHop series, for example, is a perfect display of how hops can change a beer, and I feel it keeps redefining the New England style with each release. Right now, I’m drinking a collaboration with Arkane Aleworks: For Every Action Is A Reaction. This triple IPA is bursting with tropical mango, papaya, and guava hop flavors, complemented by a creamy, pillowy, soft mouthfeel that keeps me coming back for more.” — Kyle MacDonald, Head Brewer, Inu Island Ales, Kaneohe, Hawaii
“Sierra Nevada and Bitburger’s collaboration, Triple Hop’d Lager. It’s perfectly balanced and endlessly drinkable with an incredible hop profile that lets you know you’re drinking a German beer. But it still flashes with a lot of Sierra Nevada character. Pilsner or hoppy lager has been a mainstay for me lately, and I think that’s just reflective of my current state of mind: trying to stay simple and balanced, but kinda freaking out too!” — Brett Smith, Founder and Head Brewer, Branch & Bone Artisan Ales, Dayton, Ohio
“That’s a super-easy one for me to answer: NYS Pils from Big aLICe in Queens [New York]. It’s super crisp and clean, soft and delicate; everything you would want from a pilsner. It’s a beer we love to drink and share with friends around a fire, which I am so looking forward to doing again!” — Liz DeSousa, Co-owner, Kismet Brewing Company, Westfield, Mass.
“Things are getting kind of crazy out there, and drinking Temporal Artisan Ales’ Ruby Continuum is a great distraction from the stress and pressures of our current environment. Ruby is a heavily fruited, oak-aged wild ale with raspberries and tayberries. The beer is a blend from wine and port barrels, giving it a layered complexity that takes my mind away from the here and now. It’s jammy. It’s bright. It’s tart. It’s what I want to drink right now.” — Kent Courtice, Founder and Brewer, Boombox Brewing Company, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
“Hitchhiker’s Bane of Existence hazy IPA has been my go-to comfort beer during this quarantine, which, as an extrovert, has been the bane of my existence, though I know it is 100 percent necessary. Brewed with flaked wheat and oats, and liberally hopped with Simcoe and Citra, Bane has an approachable hop bitterness and medium-full mouthfeel. Top notes of candied tangerine, mango, and passion fruit are supported by a resinous fresh-pine undertone, with citrus pith carrying through the finish. At 6.6 percent ABV, it’s quaffable and explains why I just finished the last of my stash. Hitchhiker was the last brewery I visited before the world shutdown, so I’m holding on tightly to those memories of sitting in its Sharpsburg taproom with some of my dearest friends, laughing, and being able to actually clink glasses in person instead of over Zoom.” — Hannah Gohde, Brewer, Free Will Brewing Company, Perkasie, Penn.
“The Lost Abbey’s Angel Share that I drank out of my cellar. The bourbon-barrel-aged version. I believe a 2009, when it was still in the 750-milliliter bottle. One of my favorite barleywines of all time. The dark fruit and bourbon characteristics that come across are amazing. Lost Abbey nailed that beer, in my opinion.” — Johnathan Wakefield, Owner and Head Brewer, J. Wakefield Brewing, Miami
“I’ve been drinking a ton of Silver City’s Ride the Spiral. I love Silver City for a ton of reasons, but it’s really heartwarming because my husband and I sat at their bar while we decided to buy our house in Bremerton, Wash., where we’re currently quarantined at. The beer is strong, sweet, and pretty tropical so it makes going on hikes in the woods behind my house a joy and is usually the only thing that gets me back!” — Sarah Flora, Owner, Flora Brewing, Los Angeles
“I’ve been trying to keep the drinking light during these times, so I‘ve been leaning toward lagers. Indoctrination is a great collaboration from Threes [Brewing of Brooklyn] and Hudson Valley [Brewery in Beacon, N.Y.]. This hopped-up pilsner is crispy AF and has a great body, created by aging in foudres. Also, it uses the super-fun Zuper Saazer hop. I’ve been drinking this one on my stoop daily. Cheers to everyone, stay home and stay safe.” — Geriz Rameriz, General Manager, Other Half Brewing, Brooklyn
“It’s hard not to go drink Triple Hop’d Lager with friends because it seems that’s what it’s made for. Consistency and creativity from two amazing breweries such as Sierra Nevada and Bitburger is what makes this a comforting beer to me during this dreary time. It’s crisp, clean, and perfect for porch sittin’.” — Matt Denham, Head of Brewing Operations, American Solera, Tulsa, Okla.
“Honestly, I wasn’t very excited to celebrate my 30th birthday in the thick of a pandemic, but I was able to hang with some of my best friends, one of whom was gracious enough to open a bottle of Side Project’s coveted stout, Beer: Barrel: Time. To describe it, think bourbon dark chocolate cake batter; silky and full of caramel, while having a touch of roasty bitterness, reminiscent of coffee. It was just a small gathering outside on a patio, but it was relieving to drink beer with a few of my closest friends during these strange times.” — Cameron Owen, Brewer, The Eighth State Brewing Company, Greenville, S.C.