So What Have We Learned From This?


Well it’s almost four months since we started sequestering to stay safe and not get or
spread Covid 19, so there have been lots of things not happening or being done
differently and maybe we can learn from that…

First off is can you believe all you read or hear? I’ve been hearing a lot lately about
the big spike in alcohol sales and we’re all drinking a lot more at home and some are
worried we’re drinking too much. Interestingly enough there has also been an
increase in grocery store sales. Hum, could this be connected or similar? Okay let’s
think about this; in many states bars and restaurants are closed so we can’t eat or
drink out. Then DUH, we’re not going to stop, we’re going to buy booze from the
liquor stores and food from the grocery stores and drink and eat at home. That’s not
a spike in sales, it’s just different sales; come on don’t tell me half a story. If you want
to talk about the spike then you need to talk about the decline on the other side that
caused it. Oh, and yes, I have been drinking more craft beer the last few months.

Craft breweries are basically creative by nature and closing tap rooms forced them to
channel that creativity in other areas besides selling for on premise consumption.
Less draft and more packaged beers and more growler and crowler fills for curbside
pickup have kept them going. Some even started delivering around the state to get
their product in our hands, not to mention our glasses and mouth. A few NY
breweries were delivering in NJ until the state found out and told them to stop. And
now, after we entered the next phase, they’re using open outdoor space in parking
lots, sidewalks, fields, even streets to setup outdoor beer gardens. And I’m sure they’
re already working on reconfiguring their indoor space to create better flows and
social distancing for those of us who haven’t been able to go there and begin to
socialize and try some new craft beers again.

Some, who had already started branching out and making hard seltzer, ramped up
that production to make sure they had enough varied packaged product for all. Hard
seltzers are lower in calories, lower in carbs and zero sugars, lighter than a light
beer, and can be very tasty and thirst quenching on a hot day so a smart move to
help weather the storm.

They’ve also shown once again they understand they’re part of a larger community.
The Other Half created the “All Together” collaboration beer for any breweries
interested in participating. They came up a recipe, worked with a packaging company
to get a common distinguishable label and got Craftpeak to donate their time, talent
and technology to setup a website for participating breweries.  The purpose was to
encourages all brewers to use the same recipe and donate some of the proceeds to
support hospitality workers in their community.

So far there are >850 brewers worldwide including >500 US craft brewers involved,
which is close to a 7% participation range; not bad. I’ve had a couple of these and it’s
a good recipe. Magnify Brewing in Northern NJ created their “Round of Applause IPA”
and sold it only to essential workers for $1 per four pack. Actually, they would have
given it away but that’s illegal; hey I’m sure the essential workers that got it were
probably pretty happy paying only $1. Magnify took the proceeds, doubled it and
donated that to a food pantry. I’m sure there have been many other acts of
thoughtfulness and kindness by other craft breweries.

At this point I’ve not heard of one craft brewery that closed shop; that’s not to say
that all will survive and some who are inefficient and don’t necessarily make good
beer shouldn’t, but no one’s thrown in the towel yet.

And what about our bars? Sure, there were growler specials and takeout food plus a
special beer offering, but some have shown more creativity by bringing in a broader
and constantly changing selection of craft beers, becoming more retail than on
premise. It was great to go in every week and find an entirely different selection to
choose from. In addition, my goto, The Cloverleaf, did mystery packs, four in a bag
that you find out what you’ve got after you buy it, which adds a little spice to the
adventure. I want my favorite craft beer bars to survive and reopen when it’s safe so I
was happy to support them as much as I could.

As craft beer consumers and lovers, we’ve found out we can survive in a pandemic.
There’s certainly been enough craft beer available! There have been plenty of virtual
beer tastings, where you could taste along, many Zoom happy hours where they
share what they’re drinking and in what vessel and some of us have met in parking
lots where we socially distant have a couple of beers. None are nearly as much fun
as the old standard of meeting up with your beer buds in person and having a few
cold ones. That will happen again but I’m guessing we’ll probably stop letting each
other taste our beers…

It was also an opportunity to revisit some old friends. Walking through the liquor store
and checking out the coolers and shelves gave us an opportunity to look at some
and think “that’s a good one I haven’t had in a while”. I took that opportunity with a
Sam, a Fat Tire, an Ithaca Flower Power and a couple of others. Trying new beers all
the time is fun but they’re not all great beers. Going back to something you know you’
ll enjoy is a good change of pace.

I’ve saved the best for last; I think I’ve discovered the latest craze; the Craft Beer
Diet! Over the course of three plus months I lost ten pounds! Usually I’m just happy
to maintain my current weight so this was a pleasant surprise and also a mystery as
to why it happened. I put on the old deerstalker hat and summoned up my best
deductive reasoning to analyze the situation. I used to go to the gym 4-5 times a
week which I’m not anymore, but I am more active at home working on indoor and
outdoor projects; that couldn’t be it. I’m not eating less, I’m eating about the same as I
was before, really only missing a couple of lunches out with the guys, so that’s not it.
What else is different?? I’m drinking 2 or 3 craft beers at night watching TV, probably
more than I was when I was going out with the guys. But when I went out, I did more
afternoon drinking than evening, maybe that’s it! That’s about the only thing I could
deduce, as I don’t think I have a tapeworm.

Well I’m going to continue my studies on this until I figure it out and then I’ll release it,
on BeerNexus of course, and become one of those craft beer visionaries that I like to
write about; as long as I don’t wither away to nothing that is…

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer. presents
Big G's Beer Beat
by Glenn DeLuca
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