What do you get when you cross a (locked down) outdoorsy population with a quickly spreading virus?
A bunch of weird indoor hobbies.
But let’s just back up a second, and start from the beginning.
The pandemic seemed to be over in Australia. No lockdowns and no restrictions; life was practically back to normal, especially in Sydney.
Just over a month ago, I was drinking cocktails with my friends in crowded bars, planning to take a few days off and travel south to the snow grounds.
How quickly things can change. Now, having spent almost a month in lockdown, as many Sydneysiders have, there are only so many hours in the day you can spend watching Netflix before getting bored, or attempting Chris Hemsworth’s exercise routines before getting sore.
My solution to going stir-crazy? Well, last year everyone was baking sourdough bread but, so far, no new ‘lockdown trend’ has emerged for Sydney’s 2021 lockdown; unless you count people taking bets on what colour coat NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian will wear for her daily COVID update.
Therefore, I am putting forward an idea: brew your own beer. Call it cliché if you like (I certainly am), but hear me out…
Let me preface this by saying, making beer at home is not for the faint of heart… or to be less dramatic, I wouldn’t recommend this activity unless you truly love beer or you really are starting to go mad with cabin fever.
Take my boyfriend and I, for example; he loves beer. Seriously. During Sydney’s 2020 lockdown he created an Instagram where he drank and then posted reviews of various craft beers daily (RIP his liver). Flash forward to this lockdown, he’s still doing it.
Multiple cupboards at his house (where we’re both currently locked down) are home to various craft beers, as is the top shelf of his fridge; and a second fridge he recently acquired is literally filled with nothing but, you guessed it, beer.
Then there’s me; a girl who would prefer a gin and tonic to any type of beer, but is sorely missing her friends, family, and socialising of any kind. So, when my boyfriend suggested we brew our own beer, I happily went along for the ride.
Photos from around the world, seen on Instagram, show we are not alone in this habit.
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We already had a beer brewing kit, as I gave it to him as a present months ago, that came with all the ingredients and most of the equipment you need.
You start by sanitising all the equipment, then boil a pot of water, add the grains, and constantly stir it for an hour. While this is going on, you separately boil another pot of water with the intention being you eventually combine the two in one huge pot… Something we didn’t realise until about fifteen minutes before we had to do so.
Now, the first pot with the grains and water was three and a half litres, and the second pot was four and a half litres, meaning we needed a pot large enough to hold at least eight litres; a pot we definitely didn’t have.
With the grains bubbling away, and after manically looking in every kitchen cupboard, we had less than ten minutes to find a huge pot or the whole batch of beer would’ve been ruined. Frantically, we messaged every neighbour on our street; my boyfriend ran up the road to check out a neighbour’s pot (of course, while social distancing) which was sadly too small. All hope seemed lost.
Until another neighbour finally responded telling us he had left on our doorstep, the holy grail: a ten litre pot.
Extremely grateful, we continued. We added the hops, syphoned the concoction into a carboy (a large bottle that came with the kit), and added the yeast. Now, we wait ten days before adding more hops, another four days before we bottle our beers, and another fourteen days before we can drink it.
My main takeaway from this experience is you need a lot of patience and time, as making your own beer can take a whole afternoon, and then takes about a month to properly ferment and carbonate, which is what makes it a perfect lockdown activity. Oh, but before you begin make sure you have a damn big pot.