It has no doubt come to your attention that from Thursday night, South Africa will be in COVID-19 lockdown. We’ll all have to remain in our homes for 21 days, unless we have a job that is crucial to society or we have to pop out for essential supplies. Essential supplies basically means groceries and medicine. Beer does not fall under the essential supplies heading (although I think anyone who is currently trying to keep their kids entertained for 14 hours a day within the confines of their home would disagree heartily with this concept).
The past week has been one of ups and downs. I’ve been lacking focus, many of my friends are terrified for their small businesses and fretting over whether they can continue paying their employees. But in amongst the angst, there have been wonderful moments – reconnecting with old friends over video conference call apps; teachers and celebrities offering free classes and performances via social media. In what is frankly a bit of a shitty, scary time, the people of the world have shown that we can unite and lift each other up. Community is everything at this time, whether it’s looking out for your neighbours, checking in regularly on your family (remotely, of course) or getting together – virtually – to have a beer with your mates.
And so I would like to introduce Backyard Beer Fest. As you’re well aware, pretty much everything has been cancelled lately, including all manner of beer events. So this Saturday, 28th March, from 12pm to 6pm, the South African craft beer scene would like to invite you to attend a beerfest – in your own back garden. And the best bit is, you of course don’t have to be in South Africa – anyone in the world can participate! And please feel free to change the times to suit your timezone – unless you like some really early day drinking (lockdown rules are the same as airport rules after all…)
Support local, get social
The idea is twofold – first, you get to support an industry that is really going to be struggling; an industry that I have no doubt has brought you plenty of happy times over the past ten years. Many craft breweries are now delivering, but you’ll have to be quick – get stocked up NOW to be ready before the lockdown begins (23:59 on March 26). You’ll find an evolving list of breweries offering deliveries here, or please just message me and I will hook you up with the brewers.
Second, you get to do something fun; to alleviate the boredom of social distancing/self isolation/lockdown/quarantine/whatever we’re calling it. Yes, you’ll still be in your own home/back garden/balcony, but for a few hours you’ll be at a virtual festival with – hopefully – a whole lot of other beer lovers. Here’s how it will work:
Beer by its very nature is kind of casual and laidback, so rather than have some video chat you have to enter, or a live stream you’re meant to tune into, it’s all about you and how you choose to spend the day. The idea of Backyard Beerfest is that you recreate something of a beer festival vibe without leaving your premises. And of course, you need to share videos, photos and just general chatter across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #backyardbeerfest. The goal is to chat to other beer lovers just as you would at a fest. Let’s drink separately, together.
At a basic level, get some beers, crank some tunes and chat to some people over social media. If you’re looking for some ideas of how to spend the afternoon, here’s a checklist. Every time you check something off, share it on social media (And if you’re the competitive type, award yourself a point).
- Stock up on beer (QUICKLY!) – try to have at least six different beers, ideally from six different breweries
- Wear your favourite beer shirt
- Contact the brewers on social media and ask the sort of questions you would ask at a festival (anything from ‘what’s the difference between lager and pilsner?’ ‘tell me more about barrel ageing’, what’s the dry hop on this beer?’ or just a simple where can I find more of this?’) or just give them a high five on a beer well brewed
- Share a review of one of the beers on your preferred social media channel
- Blast out your favourite beerfest tunes
- Dance (bonus point if it’s on a table – at least there’s no security to tell you to get down)
- Wear your festival hat. And if you don’t have one, now is the time to select one
- Take and post selfies with every beer you try
- Tell your mates you love them (over social media)
- Have a conversation with some random person (over SM of course), ideally while queuing for the toilet
- Make yourself a big juicy burger, gourmet hotdog or festival sandwich and share pics
- Sing a slightly drunken rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (and please post a video)
- Find that one leftover beer token in your back pocket the next morning
Please share, share, share, tag #backyardbeerfest. Enjoy yourselves and drink responsibly. Let’s turn this lockdown into something positive – a way to connect, make new friendships, revive withered ones and send out virtual, slightly drunken hugs to everyone who needs one.
Backyard Beerfest takes place on Saturday 28 March from 12pm to 6pm in your back garden (or front garden, or balcony, or even your kitchen). For updates and ideas on recreating that festival vibe, click ‘attending’ on the Facebook event page.