Beer festivals have been cancelled; smaller events like quizzes, homebrew meetups and *sob* karaoke have been cancelled; conferences, food pairings and training courses have been cancelled. You’re practising social distancing and trying to stay at home, and even if you could go out, you can’t hug, high-five or take a sip of the beer your buddy just ordered to see if you want to commit to a pint. I don’t know about you, but the above represents about 82% of my social activities, and I think we’re allowed to feel a little bleak about the coming weeks. I’m a textbook extrovert and I thrive on the company of others, so the idea of curbing my social interactions makes me a little antsy. But instead of sitting at home feeling grim (which is what I was doing yesterday), I thought I’d try and contribute something positive – a list of ways you can still enjoy your beer, even if you’re trying not to leave the house.
If you haven’t heard of them yet, check out SA’s newest online beer platform, Best Craft Beer. Their hand-picked beer selection features the top-rated breweries on Untappd as well as some rare finds from across the country, all delivered to your door. You can also check out old stalwart League of Beers for a decent, if slightly outdated selection. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of breweries are now offering a direct delivery service too. It’s a great way to continue supporting them in what is going to be a tough time for a small business. Breweries currently offering deliveries direct to the consumer include At Hops End, Beerhouse, Black Eagle, Charlie’s Garage (Long Beach Brewery), Drifter, Franschhoek Beer Co., Fraser’s Folly, Kennel, Hazeldean, Hopman, Riot, Saggy Stone, Soul Barrel, Soweto Brewing Co., Red Bridge, Richmond Hill, Red Sky and The Beer Merchant as well as Everson’s cider. Deliveries are usually limited to the immediate area around the brewery, ensuring you really are supporting a local business.
Please get in touch if you know of more breweries offering beer deliveries.
Get a growler fill
If you’re social distancing but not self-isolating, pop into your local brewery for a growler fill. That way you can enjoy fresh draught beer and still support your local brewery without worrying about touching stuff that other customers have touched while you sit and sip. For a not entirely comprehensive list of breweries (and other venues) that offer growler fills, check out this post.
So you’ve got your nice fresh draught beer or your recently received case of cool craft beers (by cool I mean awesome – they will likely need chilling on arrival) – what to do now? You could of course just sit around drinking, but if you’re going stir crazy at home and want to liven up your beer drinking a bit, here are some ideas:
- Challenge your significant other/housemate/carefully selected friend you’re still socialising with to a blind tasting challenge. This could be anything from a simple “which do you prefer” to a guess the style or guess the brand challenge. And if the person you’re holed up with isn’t much for beer, get them to set the challenge for you.
- Create a food pairing evening. Even if it’s just a couple of you, look what’s in your lock-down pantry and challenge yourself to cook a few dishes to pair with the beers in your fridge. You could try one dish and play “which beer goes best with it” or maybe pair three dishes and vote on a favourite (or if you’re isolating, at least post pics of the pairings on Instagram or Facebook and get others to vote!)
- Play “pour the perfect pint” – loser loads the dishwasher for a week.
- Plan a beer and toilet paper pairing. I’m kidding, obviously. No-one smart enough to read this blog was foolish/selfish enough to stock up on hundreds of loo rolls…
Pretend you’re at a festival
It was with a great big shudder of sadness that I learnt the Fools & Fans Festival would be cancelled. But I am planning to recreate the classic beer festival vibe in my own back garden. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Buy in a good range of different beers
- Get yourself a nice glass, then later leave it in the bathroom and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking from a plastic cup
- Message every brewer you can to ask them about the beers you’re tasting
- Blast out a soundtrack of 80s rock and sing increasingly loudly to it as the day progresses
- Send drunken selfies to your beer buddies and tell them how much you love them
- Wait until the last possible moment for a pee, then send your kids in there for 20 minutes while you hop from foot to foot wondering why you didn’t go sooner
- Assemble a pile of teddies/pillows to hug as the day goes on
- Start singing Bohemian Rhapsody on a WhatsApp group and wait for others to join in
- Fail to drink any water all day, then chug a Rehidrat before bed
- Fall asleep in your clothes and a random hat you acquired at some point during the day
- Wake up and eat bacon. Repeat
Drink together, separately
As we all have to withdraw a little from public life, it’s time for social media to shine. Encourage your followers to try and get their hands on the same set of beers, then set a time to drink them together over FB, WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram. Share pictures, tasting notes, scores, critiques and possible pairings. It’s just like being in the pub, but without having to pay for an Uber home… I’m planning to attempt something like this in the coming days so keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook accounts if you’d like to join in.
Beer is an inherently social beverage and it is admittedly not quite the same if you’re sipping it at home by yourself, but we’ve got to do our bit to curb the spread of COVID-19. I’d love to hear your ideas on how to make drinking by yourself in your back garden just a but more entertaining.