In times past, early June is a magical time here in Los Angeles. Beer lovers are coming down from the intense high of the Firestone Walker Invitational and preparing themselves for the fun in the sun that is L.A. Beer Week.
This June feels like a strange limbo or “medium place.” Some breweries are open depending upon the county they reside in and others can but aren’t either due to an abundance of caution. Others may still be planning how they can successfully modify their physical space to allow a significantly smaller amount of people inside. Change has been, will be, and will continue to be the word of the day.
What I want to talk about in this space between Memorial Day and July 4th is how the beer consumer needs to change as life begins to rev back up to pre-pandemic speeds.
Prepare – A few seconds of Facebook “research” is not going to cut it anymore. Neither is a “let’s just show up” plan. Now, you are going to have to find out how each brewery taproom is operating. Are the operating hours reduced? Are reservations required? Is there a wait list to get in? Remember that the rules one week might differ from the next.
Respect – We all reside on different spots on the virus fear spectrum. Keep that in mind as you encounter new people. The person in front of you might be putting on a brave face, but is scared to have people around them and will be spooked by any cough or sneeze. The person behind you might be a tinfoil hat conspiracy believer, but both are taking a risk to support a local business so treat that action with respect.
Follow – Any and all posted rules. Even if you think they are beyond the pale. This is where step one will help. If you want to go to a brewery and they require a food purchase or they make you wait in your car until your seat is ready, then decide beforehand if that is OK. Do not suddenly get all “Don’t tread on me” because your favorite barstool is off limits for seating.
Tip – After a few beers math skills may become worse but please make the effort to open your calculator app on your phone and get the tip right. By right, I mean nice and generous. All customer service jobs now come with a side helping of risk and they are probably having to deal with those who are not following kindness rules in addition to that.
Smile – Whether you have a mask on or not, smile. Be happy that you are back at the brewery instead of curbside. You can remember the good ol’ days of 2019, but don’t wallow and complain.
Instead of focusing on one beer style this month, I am highlighting a six-pack of summery treats.
Ogopogo Brewing – Cider – This San Gabriel brewery has two ciders: a dry-hopped version with Citra hops and a Rose version made with Petit Syrah grapes
Eagle Rock Brewery – Local Source – “Helles lager brewed with Local, Native Plants including Woolly Blue Curls, California Bay Laurel, and Black Sage from Theodore Payne’s Nursery.”
El Segundo Brewing – The Independent – This yearly IPA release is a great way to be patriotic. Or descend into bitterness.
Stone Brewing – Buenaveza Salt and Lime Lager – Instead of reaching for an Alka-Seltzer to cool down, try this not a gose, more margarita inspired light beer.
Smog City Brewing – Strange Times Hazy IPA – The first beer in a series of hoppy variations that will eventually end up with a Triple IPA.
Societe Brewing – The Heiress Pilsner – This San Diego brewery has been sending up cans of some of their core beers and this is a great introduction or re-introduction to their line-up.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.