We’ve known for quite some time now that COVID-19 was going to impact the beer festival scene pretty hard, but it’s very clear now that 2020’s season is completely off the table. There had been some hope for the fall season but with the BC Beer Awards officially scrapping their event, it looks like we won’t be gathering together to celebrate craft beer until 2021 or beyond.
But, with that all said, it’s more important than ever for us to do our part to support and celebrate the local breweries we love. While we may not be able to do it in an ‘official’ capacity, there are a number of alternative ways we can continue to cheer on our local, independent brewers.
Continue supporting home delivery
Breweries haven’t stopped being inventive during these times, and home delivery continues on (so far). While we’d argue that home delivery should in some form or another become the norm, it’s important to continue to support delivery services while they are still in place. It is going to be expensive for breweries to staff back up, shift back to a tap and keg model and begin to resupply restaurants with product, so they’ll need all the help they can get.
Host your own beer awards
Just because we don’t have official award ceremonies this year, doesn’t mean you can’t run your own. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, buy a few different beers in a particular style, or choose to pit breweries in the same area head-to-head. You can run events with a few people in a safe and responsible way, each with their own tasting flights, or even virtually. It’s a great way to discover a beer you may not have tried before. You can even use the official BJCP judging sheet.
Organize a brewery tour
Many breweries are opened at reduced capacity, and more are on the way. It is reasonable to start thinking about beer tours again, either on foot or by bicycle with a small group of friends. To add a festival style element, keep notes on the beers you try as a group and come up with your “best in show” at the end of the day.
Participate in virtual events
One of the best things about festivals is the atmosphere; the live music, entertainment, etc. During COVID many breweries have shifted their event nights to a virtual setting with things like pub trivia, live music, brewmaster dinners and more being hosted on their Facebook and Instagram feeds. Continue to show breweries how much you appreciate them by participating in these events, perhaps even ordering some of their beer in advance to drink during the livestream.
Whatever you choose to do to help fill the festival void remember that where you spend your money and attention matters. Breweries will be facing several difficult months ahead, and it’s no exaggeration to say that every dollar spent on your favourite brewery might be the dollar that keeps them in business.