Photos by Brace Hemmelgarn, Minnesota Twins
Glen Perkins’s newfound hobby has him pitching more than just baseballs in the offseason.
Beer and baseball are an iconic pairing—and it’s not just enjoyed in the bleachers. Twins all-star closer Glen Perkins, a longtime beer fan, took that pairing a step further this offseason when he discovered the joys of homebrewing, tinkering with recipes, and building a rapidly expanding homebrew facility in his Lakeville garage.
“I wouldn’t call myself a beer snob,” Perkins says, “but I’m not big on the huge brewers.” When on road trips with the Twins he stocks up on hard to find local beers, always buying two: one to drink and one to save for later. “I have a fridge full of stuff that you can’t get in Minnesota,” he says, saving them for the right occasion and to share with friends back home.
Last July the Stillwater-native closed the MLB All-Star Game in front of a hometown crowd at Target Field, a rare achievement for any player. That personal highlight was followed by harder luck when, on Sept. 21, his season was cut short due to forearm pain (which has since healed). With his children in school during the day, and lots of down time following a fourth straight losing season, he needed a hobby to take his mind off things.
The dedicated beer fan turned his attention to homebrewing. It’s a safe past time, which Twins fans have to appreciate. “I did some woodworking in the past. This is a little bit less of a risk.” Perkins also smokes his own meat and compares that process to brewing beer. “The experimentation, seeing how things come out in the end, it’s really hard to duplicate stuff because it’s such small scale.”
He’s completed around 15 batches since his first brew session in October 2014. Like most craft beer fans, the thrill for Perkins is in the discovery. “I never duplicated a recipe. I was justexploring different beers and what I like.” The closest to a repeat recipe was a Guinness-style stout he made with variations each time to hone in on their famous formula. “I’ll try to clone something. I’ll buy the real one and compare it to the one I made,” he says. “That’s what I’ve had the most fun doing.”
“I did some woodworking in the past. This is a little bit less of a risk.”
His brewing highlight came this January when he visited Bad Weather Brewing in Minnetonka. He had met owner Joe Giambruno while picking up homebrew supplies at Northern Brewer. Perkins offered to share his smoked ribs with the brewery. In turn, Bad Weather invited him to help brew their flagship red ale, Windvane.
“I dumped in all the hops on a batch,” he recalls. “Which is crazy going from a homebrew scale to dumping 5-gallon buckets of hops.” Bad Weather will open their own brewery in St. Paul this year and Perkins is now a firm supporter. “I know I’ll be doing something with them when they open,” he says, “To have a hand in helping them however I can.”
While the hobby is new to him, it’s garnered attention with Twins teammates who don’t homebrew themselves but like his beer. Like any hobby, finding time is always a challenge, but Perkins enjoys the luxury of living in the same town where he plays.
“If I was not playing for the Twins and living at home, I know I wouldn’t do it during the season,” he notes because of Major League players’ intense travel schedule. From now until fall, he’ll only brew on a rare off day—if at all.
While Spring Training restarts the baseball cycle and puts a pause on his homebrewing, Perkins takes the opportunity to shore up his beer collection again, beginning with Cigar City beer from Tampa. He cites their Hotter Than Helles Lager as a favorite warm weather beer, and he’ll no doubt pack a couple into his suitcase before making the trip back north to Target Field to kick off what the Twins hope to be a comeback season.
“We’re turning the page on last year,” he predicts. “We have some confidence heading into this year and we all are excited to get to work and see if we’re as good as we think we can be.”
For Perkins, baseball and homebrewing are ways to share his talents with others. “That’s as fun as anything else,” he explains, “making something that other people can enjoy.” While we may need to wait until next fall for his next batch of homebrew, Perkins is delighting Twins fans on the mound, as the unmistakable thump of strike-three hits the catcher’s mitt to close out a victory.