How beer fans shop for beer has dramatically shifted in 2020. Sampler flights: Out. Curbside pick-up: In. In store browsing: Out. Shipped fresh from the brewery: In.
Opening hours have shifted, how you order has shifted and the rules continue to bob and weave like a prize fighter forcing the consumer to be ready for practically anything.
This makes it almost impossible to write a column about buying beer in 2020. It could be dated before I finish typing this sentence. However, there are some helpful overall hints that I can impart from months of beer shopping in the time of Coronavirus.
1. Look for Crowler Deals
Many breweries have deals on crowlers. Usually buy three deals which come in handy for some of those big, hop filled West Coast IPAs. You might also find deals on beer styles that are not as popular. Blonde ales or a Wit could cost you less.
2. Split that 4-Pack
Find a beer friend who has the same taste proclivities as yourself and split the cans between you. It is a can world out there (as long as the aluminum supply holds). You can also go bigger and split a delivery order.
California breweries are leaning into delivery and consumers can reap the benefits. That means you should check out your favorite Golden State breweries and see if they ship. Also find out what the minimum order is, what may seem a bargain might not be if you have to order more than desired. Take advantage of the rule changes to score some sought after beer.
There will be a virtual Great American Beer Festival this year and you can buy a passport that contains deals for breweries in California. The festival already has a list of participating locations so scan the list and see if the cost of the passport pencils out in savings vs. the cost.
5. Bottle Shops
It is fantastic that you support breweries by buying direct. Continue that, please, but do not sideline your favorite bottle shop. Follow them on Instagram or other social media and you will see cans from places you don’t normally see down here.
Now you can take those hints and apply it to beers that are available. The theme for this post is vanilla. The Bruery has a trio of beers with Chef Brooke Williamson that cover a gamut of foodie flavors. One that caught my eye was The Spice, an “Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and thyme”
Heading straight into another food collaboration, Common Space Brewery combined forces with Coolhaus for an Ice Cream Sandwich beer. The Coolhaus Classic Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich inspired the Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich Beer.
Now get out there (safely and masked up) and support local and California breweries and bottle shops.