#covid19 Archives – PorchDrinking.com
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What a year we’ve had in Michigan, eh? Nothing went the way anyone expected and for many, it went worse than they ever imagined. If you’re still standing, congratulations. However, one thing that definitely stayed as expected: Despite shutdowns and sickness and protests and kidnapping threats and endless elections, Michigan brewers once again made some of the best beer in the country in 2020. Which, of course, makes my job that much more difficult. I’m certainly not new to beer, but I am brand new to picking the Michigan Best in Beer Year-End Honors which, at 300+ breweries, is a daunting task, to say the least.
That being said, I still get the good news–and there certainly was plenty of it. So, I’ve compiled what I can of the best in Michigan. Here’s to an absolutely horrible, but completely wonderful, 2020.
~Jess, Michigan Editor at PorchDrinking.com
After months of political wrangling and a stressful weekend for many small businesses, President Trump finally signed a $900 billion aid package passed by both houses of congress last Monday. The bill extends many of the measures initiated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last spring. This new legislation funds programs to help individuals and small businesses, including breweries. With many areas facing new government-mandated business restrictions due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, the aid comes at a critical time.
Since April, many breweries have invested heavily to maintain safety and economic viability. Changes include website upgrades for takeout orders, expanded indoor and outdoor spaces and delivery options. In addition to these costly changes, breweries have seen uneven customer traffic and revenue. Breweries hope that this new stimulus package will allow them stay afloat long enough for restrictions to ease and economic activity to pick up.
With the 2019-20 global pandemic still at-hand, The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild has announced details for a re-imagined 18th annual Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB). Brewers from all over the nation have submitted beers for judging, and this year people can purchase 6 packs to-go, with 100% of the funds going to the host of FoBAB, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. The money will ultimately support the broader Illinois craft-beer community.
There will be no joy in Breckenridge this January as Laura and Bill Lodge, organizers of Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines, have announced the cancellation of the 2021 event. The festival was planned for January 7-9, 2021 in Breckenridge, CO. The cancellation follows similar moves by virtually every onsite beer festival in 2020 and represents one of the first 2021 events to be canceled. It would have marked the 21st annual event.
Organizers attributed the cancellation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on gatherings.
“Our Big Beers board has met and discussed the pandemic situation. We are very clear that our first priority as a Big Beers community needs to be supporting our sponsors and brewers throughout this bizarre and difficult time as they work hard to adapt business as necessary – and not by asking you to travel and/or otherwise support us in January of 2021,” said organizer Laura Lodge.
Lodge went on to explain that they’ve decided not to move forward with a virtual version of the event, but that they are still exploring the possibility of some scaled-down homage via newsletter or social media that would take place on the originally proposed January 2021 date.
As beer-drinkers increasingly long for festivals and celebrations to return, Purpose Brewing and Cellars seems to have found a way to throw a great party that’s both fun and safe. Purpose, located in Fort Collins, CO. celebrated their third anniversary on Aug. 1 with many of the usual features including music, special releases and an outdoor beer garden, along with pandemic-inspired additions like masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing.
The Brewers Association recently published the results from their third COVID-19 impact survey, aimed at gauging the state of the craft brewing industry. While things are far from rosy, as states begin to loosen restrictions, many craft brewers are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
The previous survey in April found that nearly 60% of breweries surveyed expected to be out of business in three months or less if conditions did not change. Fast forward seven weeks and this most recent survey finds that nearly 82% of breweries in the survey are either very or somewhat confident in their ability to remain open through 2020.
On Friday, May 29, the full COVID-19 lockdown came to an end for numerous breweries across suburban Chicago, as long as they could offer outdoor seating and follow social distancing protocols (The city proper would have to wait a little longer). The questions were: How would breweries adjust to operating during a pandemic and would beer drinkers comply and behave?
While many Illinois breweries were able to reopen with outdoor seating on May 29, Chicago-based breweries have had to wait a bit longer. However, this Wednesday, the city’s beer scene will finally begin breathing new life as brewpubs have been granted permission to reopen June 3.
In the city, things will operate under different guidelines than the rest of the state. As of right now, if a brewery location doesn’t serve food, they will not be able to reopen, even with outdoor seating. That will drastically limit which breweries in the city can reopen starting Wednesday.
This past two months, as stay-at-home orders swept the nation, breweries had to quickly adapt to keep their taprooms afloat. Draft-only taprooms shifted to packaging, breweries got creative with social distancing measures, and sadly, layoffs began to unfold. Regarding the state of the industry, the Brewers Association announced in early April that a recent survey found that the majority of breweries were concerned that their businesses could not withstand several months of shelter-in-place orders. And, although many states are now in the process of lifting those orders, most establishments in those regions are only allowed to open to limited capacities, and they are opening in an environment where high unemployment and COVID-19 fears are limiting people’s willingness or ability to frequent bars and breweries. Other locations remain under lockdown orders.
As we forge ahead, and inevitably, as states begin to lift stay-at-home orders, it is evident that things may not go back to normal, at least for a long time. At PorchDrinking.com, we’re keeping a close eye on how the brewing industry reacts. Here’s what a few industry veterans had to say on panels hosted by WeldWerks Brewing Co., BusinessDen and the Colorado Brewers Guild.
Zombie Dust, Gumball Head, Alpha King and the rest of the 3 Floyds lineup of beers will still be available to-go from the brewery in Munster, IN. But, the ability to sit down and have a drink or a bite to eat won’t be around for the foreseeable future; the 3 Floyds Brewpub is closed indefinitely.
We miss beer as it was, how we drank beer as we did, and how we hoped the community and
culture could grow into something more along the way. To do that, especially distanced from
one another, the future comes down to how we grow now, alone with ourselves, living in the
shadow of the last beer festival. While PorchDrinking.com typically publishes non-fiction news, features and long-form stories, this is a creative fiction piece from author, Tyler Malone.
The idea of “craft community” has always enjoyed duality in that it both touches on brewery-to-brewery camaraderie and the connection between breweries and its neighborhoods and cities. Breweries such as Chicago-area’s Skeleton Key, Wolfden and Sew’d Hop—to name a few, along with a host of brewing and service industry peers, are now creatively working together and with nearby businesses as they pivot to a new “normal” during the lockdown. And, that effort is exemplified by the unique to-go COVID-19 Brewery Baskets available to customers.
The (almost) national quarantine and school closures have forced parents to take on the role of homeschool instructor. Sure, one could joke that sifting through endless passwords and videos is enough to make anyone desire a drink. But, let’s be real here. Beer does more than relax one at the end of the night. Indeed, homeschool beer provides lessons. Homeschool beer broadens one’s intellect. One could argue that attempting to serve as a homeschool teacher without having a beer the night before is analogous to a kid refusing to do his or her homework. To wit: homeschool beer serves as a vital component of every parent’s pedagogy.
This should go without saying, but just in case: Don’t drink the beer WHILE teaching. You do your lesson planning at night or, at least after school. Otherwise, it’s detention for you.
With many breweries frozen out of Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance when funding ran out on April 16, 2020, last week’s passage of the Coronavirus-relief package provided new hope. However breweries need to act fast, as all programs operate on a first-come, first-served basis. With high demand anticipated, the added funds will likely be exhausted in a matter of days.
With more time to watch movies and shows, I’ve been reevaluating the importance of entertainment and imagination. One movie I’ve been thinking about is Big Fish—particularly the end where Albert Finney and Billy Crudup envision how “the story ends.” The ending they come up with is a bright visualization—a jubilant, cheerful scene where the son carries his dying father to a pond through a long stretch of smiling faces. As they walk down the hill towards the pond, the father gets a standing ovation from the dozens of quirky people who made up his remarkable (if exaggerated) life’s story.
Sometimes those kinds of visualizations are fun distractions—a daydream to pass the time. But sometimes visualizations are a coping mechanism, pure survival. It’s not news that we’re missing a lot right now. And when we miss things, it’s easy to let our minds wander and dream about what may come. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. With the help of some lovely folks in the craft beer industry, we’re going to close our eyes and imagine what it’ll be like on that first day back to life.
If you are like me, then you’ve recently taken the part-time job of home-school teacher. My challenge has been to come up with interactive lessons that will keep my kids engaged and distract them from destroying the house. As the weather gets warmer, our science lessons have been moved to our backyard and the curriculum has been about bugs. Lucky for me, there is a beer for that: Bug Zapper from Avery Brewing Co. Hopefully, as we progress into summer, this beer will complement cool, relaxing nights and our encounters with some awesomely cool bugs in the great outdoors. Let us talk about beer and bugs, shall we?
Embrace the Suck: verb, slang, military slang. “To consciously accept or appreciate something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable for forward progress.”
The Embrace the Suck mantra does not suggest that we should celebrate the suck, find joy in the suck nor pretend a situation isn’t as bad as it seems. Embrace the Suck requires one to accept fully that our present situation does indeed suck, and that we must willingly accept it. We must understand that it has to suck for a while and that only by enduring can we eventually arrive at a point where it no longer sucks.
And that is where we are in the world, which includes everything attached to craft beer.
Beer & Baseball go hand-in-hand. Although beer operations are either slowed or shut down in almost every U.S. location, to-go options and cellar-emptying are at least helping us through this quarantine. Baseball, however, is on full hiatus, and baseball fans need something to fill the void. The good news is that fans can still enjoy baseball during a quarantine through social and digital media. You may even find sites you never knew existed, and become fans of those sites forever.
Hello, good people. If you’re reading this, you know that things in the world are pretty bad. So yet again, in direct opposition to my natural state of being, I’d like to share a few positive things with you for this week’s What We’re Drinking.
As bad as things are—and make no mistake, they’re bad for a lot of people: Losing businesses, losing jobs, losing loved ones—there’s definitely a silver lining somewhere. We can’t see it now. Nothing feels great at the moment. But it’ll come.
The COVID-19 crisis has state officials and health agencies alike urging the nation to practice social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. Currently statewide shutdowns of bars and restaurants have been mandated in highly populated states including Colorado, Illinois, New York, Ohio—and the list is growing as we speak. San Francisco is in full lock down mode and stocks are plummeting. If ever was there a time to stay in and be a recluse, it’s now.
Chances are, your Netflix account is about to get a lot of traction—but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re self-quarantining or just plain bored, use this handy guide to help you determine what to watch—and drink—when you’re chilling at home looking for a Netflix binge.