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Kelsey makes beer — 5 gallons to last through the pandemic
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The Times’ Kelsey Podo brewed her own beer for the first time this year, a red ale that she’s thankful for as the United States hunkers down to avoid COVID-19. - photo by Kelsey Podo

I finally did it. I made my first beer. 

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The Times’ Kelsey Podo brewed her own beer for the first time this year, a red ale that she’s thankful for as the United States hunkers down to avoid COVID-19. Photo by Drew Podo.
And guess what? It’s actually tasty. Thank goodness for that because it would be truly unfortunate to have 5 gallons of disgusting beer at a time when I’m not often leaving my house.

It’s sort of a blessing in disguise. Now I don’t have to break my social distancing and find an open bottle shop. I now have a closet full of red ale and no one except my husband to share it with. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep my newsroom coworkers in self-quarantine, for their sanity, I may mail them some bottles. If you have a friend in the journalism business, I encourage you to reach out to them and see if they’re OK. Most of us aren’t. Most of us are spiraling downward and need a good drink.

I’m going to be honest. I was pretty hesitant to bite the bullet and brew my own beer. I spent a short time as an apprentice at Hoppy Trout Brewing, a small brewery in Andrews, North Carolina. However, because of my full-time job as a reporter, I only had enough space in my schedule to help weigh out ingredients and make it through the first bits of the process.

Brewing beer on my own proved a new territory for me, and trust me, I was afraid to fail. 

I decided to play it safe with my first beer and use an Irish red ale recipe from Northern Brewer, a company that supplies homebrew ingredients and equipment.

Out of all the conversations I’ve had with brewmasters, there’s one thing that I made sure not to screw up –– sanitation, sanitation, sanitation. If your equipment isn’t thoroughly cleaned with the proper antibacterial substance, then your beer has a large possibility of tasting like trash — literal, dirty trash. 

No one wants to introduce unwanted bacteria into their beer. Happy accidents are rare. 

If you have a passion for craft beer, and you still haven’t brewed your own, I can’t encourage you enough to try it out. Yes, it can be intimidating, but it’s absolutely worth it. Out of all of my failures, it’s so satisfying to open up my fridge and pop open a bottle of my own homebrewed beer. 

It’s easy-drinking, smooth and slightly malty–– basically everything I’d want in a beer that I have to drink for the next couple of months.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “So Kelsey, did you name the beer?” 

No, not yet. I’m taking ideas at the moment. I’m looking for something nerdy, witty and possibly personal. Shoot me an email or message me on Facebook if you think of anything.

OK, I’m going to stop rambling about my first homebrew and focus on what really matters.

Let’s talk about the state of craft breweries in Georgia. 

If you’ve been following your favorite breweries on social media, you’ll realize that they’ve got many challenges in front of them. Most are closing their taprooms and furloughing their employees. And the small or new breweries with no or little distribution are doing worse.

If you can, please support your local craft brewery by purchasing their to-go beer. Any little bit helps. Us beer snobs have to stick together during these trying times.

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