Many people on Long Island are using this forced stay-at-home time to catch up on reading lists or take up new hobbies. But Long Island’s homebrewers already have a favorite stay-at-home activity, which they will celebrate today with virtual festivities and homebrewing for annual Big Brew Day.
In 1998, the U.S. Congress named May 7 as National Homebrewers Day to mark the 20th anniversary of federal legislation to legalize homebrewing for the first time since Prohibition. To celebrate this day, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) created Big Brew Day to be held on the first Saturday in May.
After a decline in the 2000s, homebrewing blossomed in popularity in the 2010s among craft beer enthusiasts who realized that homebrew is the ultimate craft brew. Long Island has three active homebrew clubs – Brewers East End Revival (B.E.E.R.) and Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) in Suffolk County, and Handgrenades Homebrew Club in Nassau County.
These clubs all hold monthly meetings and annual competitions, and serve their homebrews at local beer festivals where they are usually the most popular attraction. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the clubs have continued to hold virtual monthly meetings and regular Zoom happy hours.
Many of Long Island’s craft breweries were founded by former members of the homebrew clubs and these breweries regularly host and sponsor events for the clubs. Blue Point Brewing in Patchogue, which was founded by two former homebrewers, has hosted an annual event for Big Brew Day for several years but due to the COVID-19 shutdown, this year’s event will be virtual.
Longtime Blue Point brewer Jim Richards will lead a virtual toast at 1 pm on Blue Point’s live Instagram feed, and after the toast Blue Point will link in the presidents of each Long Island homebrew club to discuss club activities. Members of the Long Island clubs will be brewing a wide variety of beer styles at home, including Shelter-in-Place IPA that will be brewed by this member of the Handgrenades club.
Long Island’s Big Brew Day activities will be a part of a worldwide event as the AHA has pushed to make this year’s event the largest homebrew event ever. The AHA is the largest homebrewing group in the U.S. with more than 46,000 members and sponsors the world’s largest homebrew competition. More than 3,500 AHA members and other brewers pledged in advance to participate in Big Brew Day, brewing more than 23,000 gallons of beer in all 50 states, six U.S. territories and 63 other countries.
For anyone who wants to take advantage of this stay-at-home time to try homebrewing, there are plenty of resources available at LIBeerGuide.com/homebrew. The website lists homebrew supply shops on Long Island that are open for pickup to get equipment and ingredients, and information on Long Island’s homebrew clubs who are always welcoming and eager to help new homebrewers.
Bernie Kilkelly is the editor and publisher of LIBeerGuide.com.