Test Kitchen: Embrace Your Extended Winter

Test Kitchen is an ongoing print column and online blog by the Publisher of Brewer Magazine and Test Kitchen Brewer Tyler Montgomery. With a 1.5 barrel brewhouse launched in 2019, this is his experience and notes from the journey along with reviews of products and services.


The winter in Kentucky, though not severe as many other states, is extremely gloomy. We randomly get snow, but mostly we get cold temperatures and thick gray clouds. Additionally, most activity in the winter is kaput.

For the Test Kitchen, this meant a time to revise some of our newer recipes, analyze our big sellers and brew like crazy! Like many of you when COVID-19 came on we were amping up for warmer temperatures, anniversary parties, summer beer festivals, and an expansion project.

We had been extremely active in searching for a larger property, getting quotes on equipment and beginning sketches of how this facility would operate. COVID-19 hit so hard and so fast it essentially took our momentum from 60 mph to zero.

While the early weeks were hard to maneuver I have developed a new mentality as we see our traditional warm-weather experience being pushed back. I don’t necessarily believe we should shut doors and hunker down. Sure, this is a great time to catch up with your loved ones and regain some much-needed sleep, but I also believe it’s time to embrace the extended winter.

The way spring sprung in Kentucky it looked like we would have had an amazing March. The temps jumped from the mid-30s all the way to 70 degrees overnight. The sun was shining and if it hadn’t been for COVID-19 we would have had a full taproom and beer garden patio. There’s a huge side of me that wants to hang my head and go into a massive depression, but business owners and entrepreneurs don’t have that luxury and it’s not really in our nature.

With the downtime, I’m embracing the extended winter. I’m taking more time with beer recipe development and upgrading our yeast strategy. While these developments are small, in the summer months we’re doing all we can to keep up with production and don’t have this time.

As this pandemic continues I’m begging you to not hunker down and lose faith. Most of us are being perceived as essential elements to economies and perpetual life. Take some pride in that and keep strategizing as you would have previously. Keep making unique beers that entice your customers to get curbside growlers and crowlers and cans alike.

As businesses we have two options: We can either close our doors and let nature win the bout, or we can embrace this round, take our shots and come out in the next round and knock this thing out. I have faith that the vast majority of us will be in the latter. Hopefully, you’ll be able to strongly embrace these knocks and come out ready to win in Round 2.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *