How many times have I said, “Things are changing quickly…” when talking about the local beer and brewing scene this past year? A half-dozen in the Cheers! column alone. As we head into the 20th (20th!) month of the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like, at least here in San Diego, we’ve taken a step down off the razor’s edge, and can assume that there won’t be a change in the hospitality rules overnight.
I’m guessing that is a relief for many of the breweries that at one point really didn’t know if they would be open day-to-day. Some, like Bagby Beer in Oceanside, decided to close down for an extended period, some opened their doors in protest, and still others navigated the roller-coaster — checking the news and county health websites each morning to figure out how to adapt.
As a beer columnist, I’ve been fairly focused on interviewing brewery and distillery teams to see how they were adapting to the changing landscape. Those that know me in real life know I’ve been as locked down as anyone, maybe more so, as I tried to avoid the coronavirus both for myself and to prevent spread, and then because I just got used to drinking my beer at home on the patio.
A few weeks ago, I stopped by Burgeon Beer in Carlsbad to pick up a few four-packs for my beer drinking virtual book club but instead of grabbing and going, I stopped to chat with a few members of the team. Around me brewery life was happening. Kegs were being tapped. Beertenders were cleaning the bar. Customers were wandering in and ordering a pint. The bakery smell of beer being made filled my nose, and I was happy.
It was a nice moment in time. One where I wasn’t beset by the usual anxiety that has crept up when going out into the world.
Then today, truly for the first time, it dawned on me. I can see the other side. I can see a future, hopefully soon, where I don’t come up with a COVID plan before leaving the house. I can see popping into brewery without a care, sitting inside at the bar, and not worrying if the person next to me is vaccinated or not. Doesn’t that sound nice? Shoutout to all of San Diego County for getting right to the edge of 90%.
Today, I’m going to drink a beer in celebration of my epiphany. It’s going to be a locally sourced Oktoberfest. I have no doubt it will be delicious, and I’m going to start planning my near future beer drinking adventures. Cheers everyone. I hope to see you soon.
Beer things on tap:
- Visit Wavelength Brewing Co., ASAP: Unfortunately, Vista’s Wavelength is shutting the doors to the Main Street taproom at the end of October. Their announcement referenced the impact of COVID-19 and negotiating a new lease as part of the reason. They’re currently trying to empty all kegs of beer and need your help.
- The Bushwood Bash at Dogleg Brewing Co., Oct. 29: A Caddyshack-themed costume party.
- 13th San Diego Beer Week, Nov. 5-11: 10 days of events, beer releases, tastings and celebrations of the local independent beer community.
- Ebullition Brewing’s Singalong Dueling Pianos, Nov. 5: They had me at “Singalong.”
- Bagby’s Slow & Low Lager Celebration, Nov. 20: A lager-themed beer festival celebrating beers fermented at low temperature and taking the long road to being finished. Supports Helping Paws.
- Tipping Pint Brewing Grand Opening, TBD: A brewery grand opening in Oceanside? Yes, please.
The Roast! West Coast coffee podcast has returned for a third season. All new episodes are released on the Coast News Podcast page every Tuesday and Thursday.