Some Good, Some Bad


Well here in the Northeast we’re in about the same place we were last month,
which the way things are looking in the Southeast and Southwest, isn’t
necessarily a bad thing. It would be nice if we were a little further along on the
road to recovery and whatever our new normal will be. Outdoor dining is okay but
on some of the really hot and humid days it’s not the most comfortable, but better
than nothing. It’s also much better when it’s a good-sized tent as opposed to an
umbrella over the table as someone is usually trying to avoid the moving sun.
Some states have moved further along and added 25% capacity indoor dining,
which is a great step, although it’s usually not for just drinking, it’s for food and
drink, which hinders us craft beer drinkers a little.

We’re definitely getting more used to seeing others in masks. At first it was a few
of those super-duper KN95 medical ones but mostly the blue pleated ones. They’
re pretty cheaply made as I had a side strap pull off before I even put it on. Being
the DIY guy I am, I pulled out a stapler and reattached it. Heck as we use less
paper, I use less staples so it’s great to find a use for them since I have enough
staples in reserve to supply the state of North Dakota for a year.

In the early stages, when masks were hard to find in any store, some creatively
used their bandanas, like the cowboys in the old west when they went in to rob a
bank. Since it’s now mandatory to wear a mask into most banks shouldn’t bank
robberies be up??  I can see the robber handing the teller a note saying “give me
all your money or I’ll take off my mask and sneeze on you” although they would
have to get it through the small hole in the plexiglass to be much of a threat.

Many people and companies started making cloth masks and they’ve become
something of a new fashion statement. Even Rosie the Riveter, well maybe not
the original one who inspired the iconic poster, but Pennsylvania’s own who
helped build WWII bombers in Seattle, is making masks at the age of 94! Just
doing her part as she says.

Some are just plain, some multi-colored, while others have a logo or symbol on
them. That makes it a little more interesting, like checking out what’s on someone’
s t-shirt. My goto, The Cloverleaf put their logo on black ones for their staff. If
they had enough, they should sell them as I’m sure many of us loyal patrons
would purchase one. I did notice they have the logo in the middle over the mouth,
so when the server is speaking it’s moving. I think I like the logo offset better than
over the mouth, but hey if someone could come up with an interactive scene
moving symbol or logo or picture that would be interesting. Masks do help the
disgruntled server and the server with the idiot customer as they don’t need to
fake a smile with a mask on…

A couple of months ago I had mentioned to our Editor in Chief, aka Grand Puba,
aka Beer Savant, aka Mr. Blue, aka (well we call him lots of other things but let’s
keep those internal) that he should consider BeerNexus masks. We could then
be outfitted in our BeerNexus shirt, hat, mask and underwear…a popular item but
not usually visible, when we head out to our local water hole or virtual craft beer
tasting event. He wasn’t sure my idea had merit and he’d be stuck with a bunch of
masks, but the way things have gone I’m thinking it was a good idea!

Hey if we’re going to wear these to stay safe, we might as well have some fun it.
The cloth ones are nice as you can wash and reuse them. I myself spotted one
with a stylish beer mug which I picked up (since my BeerNexus one is still on
order…) along with one for my favorite baseball team. Some are outrageously
priced so look around till you find a reasonable one, unless of course you have
to have that particular one you’re looking at.

Some of the bigger craft breweries could/should use this to their advantage. It
would be easy for Boston Beer or Sierra Nevada or Founders, etc. to order a
large supply to give to their staff and to us customers. They could have us send
in receipts to prove we bought a few 12 packs or run a special promotion where
they’re in 10% of the cases of one of their varieties of beer (like a treasure hunt)
or something like that. Maybe they’re not as cheap as key rings or stickers, but
my key ring is in my pocket and my sticker is on a wall at home, neither of which
gets anywhere near the exposure of a face mask out and about…I’m just sayin.

Back at home, where we’re still spending more time than usual, we need to keep
ourselves amused. There’s definitely more time to read and there’s usually a
craft beer article or two I’ll open up to see what others are saying or thinking, or
in some cases not thinking at all. I think it’s important to be able to pick up on new
info, trends, whatever, especially when it’s happening in other parts of the
country that I can’t experience as I’m not there.  I’m probably not reading all that
much more than I usually do.

Lists make up a good portion of these and a recent article was the 25 Most
Important Beers. Like I haven’t seen enough lists, let’s see
The 25 Best IPAs
The 25 Best New Breweries
The 25 Best Pumpkin Beers  (sorry but I’m never opening that one)
The 25 Most Important Craft Breweries
The Best New Beers by Region
The 25 Best Coffee Stouts
And on and on and on we go…

I’m a glutton for punishment so I usually take a look at these. Taste is such an
interesting and individual thing. I can be sitting at the table with three or four of
my fellow craft beer drinkers and we may span the gamut from not like to like to
love the same beer. But that’s not enough consensus, so that’s why platforms like
Untappd, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate are important. When a lot of people like
a beer it’s probably a good beer. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily like it as I
said taste is a very individual thing, but there’s certainly a better chance than
when many don’t like it. Some may view this similar to the herd mentality, oh you
like it because everyone says you should. I’m not sure I quite view it that
succinctly as when you look at a rating, it’s not like there are 25 other people in
the same room trying to convince you of the same thing. That’s hard to fight and
if you have been finding yourself in that situation try watching Henry Fonda in the
movie 12 Angry Men to pick up a few pointers.

Sometimes these lists are downright depressing because the first thing you do
when you go through the list is to count how many you’ve had. How demoralizing
when you’ve been drinking craft beer since it’s inception and you’ve only had 10
of the 25 most important beers in whatever category; way to make me feel like a
failure. There are some lists that are just plain bad and you catch that when you
spot something that you’ve had that’s being extolled and you know somebody is
getting something out of the publicity and it’s not worthy of a best list.

But maybe we shouldn’t be all that hard on ourselves. First of all, there are about
8,000 craft breweries in the US, although we still need to see the effect of the
current pandemic on that, all making multiple styles of beer and realistically we
can’t try them all. Not that they are all available in your neighborhood, but if you
drink three different beers a day for a year, that’s 1,095, which means it would
take you almost 8 years to try one from each. (But with two leap years in there
you get six more!!). So, there can be a positive side to these lists as the ones
you haven’t had are then opportunities for you to try craft beers, new to you, that
others find merit in.

Personally, I think half of all craft breweries could go away and we’d still have an
amazing amount of wonderfully delicious craft beer. I can name numerous
breweries that I have no interest in drinking as whatever I’ve tried hasn’t
impressed me enough to give them another shot. That may be a little cruel as I
can also name a couple of breweries that over time really stepped up their game
and are now making really good beer, so giving them a chance to improve can be
worthwhile also and as I’ve mentioned everybody’s taste is different so somebody
must like them.

There are also uplifting moments when they put a beer on their list from NC or FL
or CO or wherever and you’ve had the beer or been to the brewery. That’s when
you’re patting yourself on the back for being such a craft beer savant or maybe
you were just lucky.

So yes, I’ll continue to review those lists and revel when they pick something I’ve
already had, but also keep in mind, there’s a lot of great tasting opportunity with
so much more really great craft beer out there I haven’t had…yet.

Cheers to craft beers!

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

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer. presents
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