On a normal January 1st, interspersed between football games and resolutions, I would plot my beer calendar for the year. Which breweries in Los Angeles do I need to visit and in what order? Where would I be traveling to this year? I would add beer festivals and events to my calendar like tentpoles. Knowing, full well, that the plans and hopes were probably too ambitious, but also knowing that planning was part of the fun.
Keeping the year that shall not be named out of it, this last January 1st, football games don’t hold as much appeal when the Rose Bowl is played in Texas and resolutions have been played out in the form of baking bread or gardening or getting out of pajamas for a day.
Beer planning has also lost luster, but just as small businesses had to pivot and then pivot and then pivot again, L.A. beer fans also need to pivot.
Last year, each Saturday, I went out with a buddy for a walk and brewery (or bottle shop) visit. It was a small way to show support from behind the mask. To Gardena and Eureka Brewing Co. who took over the Ximix Beer space and then to nearby Carson to another new brewery, Crac, who are canning an oyster stout, something of a rarity style-wise in our IPA laden landscape. Then into DTLA’s southern end and Hi-Def Brewing that is surrounded by condos. I have traveled from Long Beach to Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach. From the brand new So-Fi Stadium in Inglewood to the storied Rose Bowl in Pasadena to safely buy beer from Tortugo Brewing or Cerveceria del Pueblo.
I will continue that weekly appointment this year unless Covid continues to create dire situations, at which point delivery becomes the way to go. Thanks to a relaxation of shipping laws, Californians can enjoy the bounty of beers from practically anywhere in the state including our own locals. A few clicks and then just wait by the mailbox.
Last year, I purchased curated beer boxes from the California Craft Brewers Association. I watched videos from the brewers about the beers that they made and was able to enjoy a fraction of the festival experience even if it was from my couch. There will be more of that this year as festivals like San Francisco Beer Week which is a large and Bay wide affair becomes CA Beer Week. Not the same amount of fun, but isn’t it better to have a Zoom call with beer? If nothing else, the mute button has earned its keep.
Here are a few other ways to make Beer Year 2021 better:
1. Wear a mask and get the vaccine – the quicker we can get our two shots the better it will be for the beer community. I would add that this should be steps 2 through 10 as well.
2. Share, re-tweet, heart posts from local breweries – especially ones that have hours of operations or links to buying online. Spreading the word and reminding people will be very helpful and will encourage impulse buying.
3. Buy beer for a friend – we need to encourage staying at home even though at this point even introverts are probably tearing their hair out. So split your purchases. You buy one week, a friend the next. Or if you know a beer fan who is not going out, leave some beer on their doorstep.
4. Support restaurants too – we all know and miss restaurants with great tap lists. Help out here as well with takeout that avoids delivery apps and their onerous fees.
Lastly, stay patient and optimistic. It is not pretty out there beyond our quarantine bubbles, but this is just a tunnel and we will come out the other side. Maybe not as soon as we had hoped and maybe a little battle scarred or scared but we will be able to gather again at a brewery and enjoy craft beer to the fullest at some point.