Drink Two and Call Me In The Morning: Balancing medical school and homebrewing

The Dogshead Brewing team first started to take shape when I got my acceptance letter to attend medical school in the fall of 2020. See, I was already a homebrewer having grown up in the craftbrew hotbed of San Diego, California allowing me to develop a taste for beer at a “relatively” young age. My first homebrew was about three years ago and I knew that one of the first things I would be packing when moving to Albert Einstein Medical College in Bronx, New York would be my brewing equipment. The first week of school I recall brewing a lemon drop saison that I could share with fellow classmates. After all, what’s an easier way of making friends than by giving away free beer? Giving away a well-crafted homebrew of course!

I enjoy brewing because, like in medicine, there is always more to learn.

It was not long after that I met Kira and Ryan, also first-year medical students, who shared my passion for beer. Kira, a devout “hop head,” is well known for her “study beers” that help her get through hours of studying. Ryan, a lover of all types of beer, is likely adding to his incredible collection of Untappd beer check-ins if he isn’t in class. Eager to delve into the art of homebrewing, the two opted in to join me for my next brew session . . . the first official Dogshead beer, a tasty pale ale that somehow went unnamed. Since then our team has brewed a number of beers, all sporting canine-related names like “The Grapedane” (grapefruit IPA), “The Bad Boy” (West Coast IPA), and “I Peed on the Carpet” (Belgian-style honey ale with a high ABV). The Dogshead name was inspired by my dog, Ash, a terrier-chihuahua mix with very large ears who has quickly become a campus favorite.

Despite the busy schedule of medical school our team has been able to find time to brew. An important part of scheduling a batch is trying to set aside a period of time when bottling day could potentially take place. This is usually on a weekend after a busy week or an exam. Once a bottling date is set, then we can reverse engineer a convenient brew day and go from there.
Several medical school friends have expressed interest in learning about the process of brewing beer. Many are surprised that brewing beer is even possible in a small New York City apartment.

I’m glad to say that I have had several brew days with various classmates curious to see how beer gets made. In fact, having extra pairs of hands around came in handy when zesting grapefruits for Grapedane IPA. Although Dogshead started as a few friends getting together to brew beer, because of the notable interest there have been talks about trying to establish a brewing club through the medical school. Of course, before any new candidate could earn an official Dogshead t-shirt they must go through the initiation process, which would surely include what could be the dullest aspect of brewing — cleaning.

The Dogshead Brewing team, and now second-
year medical students, posing for the camera. Photo by Jon Crain

Between figuring out the mechanism of action behind thiazide diuretics and learning the difference between a “lub” and a “dub” heart sound, sipping on a homebrew after a long day of work has become an integral part of the Dogshead medical school experience. I enjoy brewing because, like in medicine, there is always more to learn. Brewing seems to be a dynamic form of art that remains grounded in tradition, much like modern medicine. Besides the potential to become better brewers, the Dogshead team appreciates homebrewing because it gives us a reason to carve out quality time with friends amidst a hectic schedule of classes and study sessions. Brewing continues to remind us of how important it is to come together, relax, and have a homebrew.

Issue: November 2021