Greetings to you all. I hope you are safe and healthy and maintaining some sanity during our state’s stay-at-home orders.

In my last column on March 25, I pledged to focus on positive thoughts and staying happy if possible. I continue to think this way as best I can. As a business owner closed by state decree, this is hard, but I believe in the rules. They’re pretty simple: stay at home, wash your hands, keep your social distance. Simple, really, except it’s tough. I miss folks, I miss having beers with my friends, and I miss just thinking about what I need to do as opposed to what I can’t do — like all of you.

Now that my family has stayed home for over a month, I have learned some things.

• People step up and really show their true colors during stress.

• We can be smart during this time, and I see so many people doing that.

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• Beer is definitely a comfort food.

• I’m proud of Duluth, and I’m so fortunate to live here.

• We will come out of this stronger — hopefully more empathetic and together.

• Hanging out at home with family is a bright spot during this time. Family is key, and I’m so glad for mine.

But this column is about beer, and I’m getting there, but like many, I’m constantly thinking about the “new now.”

I’m interested in your quarantines. What are you up to? How’s the cooking, gaming, watching, exercising going? Please email me; I’d love to hear. Mostly, though, I hope you’re doing alright.

In my case, I'm doing pretty well. Things shift day to day, but we’re trying to keep it fresh. My daughter Daisy texted the whole family the other day with this: “Fam, I need these things you want to do together: 5 activities, 5 meals, 5 movies.” Pretty cool, right? We wrote out our answers on scraps of paper and put them in a jar. Every day, we grab one and stick to it! This simple, silent ballot game has been a fun and much-needed distraction during the endless unknown.

I live in a great neighborhood in Duluth. Every day while walking my dog, I see my neighbors (at correct social distance), and we talk about how great it will be when we go back to normal. I think we feel more connected when we speak, and this makes me very happy. We should all try to keep these connections strong in the future.

I’m sorry for my personal ramblings; now on to business. I think as we are stuck home, we should do all we can to enjoy our favorite BEER!

Many local breweries are selling their products curbside. I’ve been trying new beers when I can by ordering curbside at breweries, cideries and liquor stores. I'll call it "work research," and it's pure enjoyment.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve tried beer from Earth Rider, Schell’s, Utepils, Fitger’s Brewhouse, Indeed, Town Hall Brewery, Sierra Nevada, Bent Paddle, Castle Danger, Fair State, Duluth Cider, Steel Toe, Dangerous Man, Summit, Blacklist and Surly. That’s a lot; I know. And we still have stay-at-home time left. How about using Daisy’s idea? Put a page together with styles such as hoppy, malty, sour, light, dark, fruity. List some of your favorite beers by name, cut them up, throw them in a jar and grab one or two a day. Most of our local liquor stores deliver via a touch-free process to your homes. One thing most of us have is time. So try some new stuff; bring something new in for dinner. It’s fun and can be good conversation.

Here are some of my local recommendation’s for stay-at-home beers

  • Bent Paddle, Classic
  • Castle Danger, Cream Ale
  • Earth Rider, Precious Material
  • Blacklist, Wit
  • Fitger’s Brewhouse, Starfire Pale Ale
  • South Shore Brewery, Brown Ale

There are many beers to enjoy, but right now, buying local is possibly saving your local brewery. This matters to me for many reasons, but don’t forget we are the Craft Beer Capital of Minnesota!

Be well, be safe, keep supporting each other — and have a beer. We will get through this.

Thanks for reading.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Contact him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.