ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota's ongoing stay at home order to fight the coronavirus has presented many people with a sudden burst of free time.

And, what better way to fill free time than with hobbies?

For St. Cloud resident Randy Tenvoorde, that hobby is brewing beer. Tenvoorde is a seasoned home brewer and the president of Cloudy Town Brewers, a club for beer brewing enthusiasts. The group, which boasts nearly 250 members in a private Facebook group, usually meets once per month at a local brewery or restaurant with craft beer on tap.

Tenvoorde can't say for certain if the pandemic has led to a spike in new home brewers, mainly because the craft was so popular to begin with. However, for anyone contemplating a plunge into home brewing, he recommends a starter setup, known as a "Mr. Beer Kit," which retails for $25-30.

"It gives you the basic knowledge of the brewing process," Tenvoorde explained. "It teaches you how to make the wort, how to sterilize it, how to cook it on your stove and put it in a barrel. Then, you put your yeast in and let the yeast do the work turning that sugar into alcohol."

For new brewers, Tenvoorde suggests trying to brew ales, pale ales, IPAs and even some stouts - beers that are a little less finicky, he says.

As far as home brewing supplies are concerned, Tenvoorde hasn't run into any scarcity issues. He's been able to locate what he needs, like hops, both online and from metro area stores.

"In the twin cities area, larger stores like Midwest Brewing and Northern Brewer are still open with curbside service," he explained. "And, both of them have online aspects to their business. So, we can definitely still get our supplies.

Tenvoorde is looking forward to the day when he can lift a glass with his fellow Cloudy Town Brewers in person. In the meantime, he's gearing up for his next project - an English Special Bitter ale.

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