Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
We are used to June being a month in which
something new begins.
June is the month of the first day of
summer. The school year ends in June and we commence a summer break,
or the rest of our lives.
In many places June is the month when the
weather finally becomes accommodating. The sun rises earlier and the
days last longer. We can sit in the evening talking with our
A few years ago June was the month when I
began my Craft Brewery Pilgrimages. Everyone was welcome to come
along and visit a tasting room or brewery somewhere in Southern
California. There were new breweries springing up all over and I
wanted opportunities to visit them with my friends. Each month I
would choose a different brewery or tasting room and we would meet
there to try their brews and spend some time talking.
Those Craft Brewery Pilgrimages were a good
way to meet new people and explore new places. In a couple of years,
one month at a time, we made new friends and visited places spread
over at least five different counties.
Now there are new places to visit and it
might be time to begin a new pilgrimage.
This June, though, is different.
June feels much less about beginning than
about finishing this year. This year June is a month in which we are
working to complete a task we have set out to do, or to survive.
Many of us have been keeping ourselves to
ourselves, isolated from people we love and want to protect. Some of
us have lost jobs we enjoyed, or at least jobs we hoped would help
us put our dreams into practice. We may know people who have gotten
sick, or we may have gotten sick ourselves.
Most of us have sacrificed something, giving
up something we love to try to control the damage caused by this
pandemic. We do not know what the future wil hold for us.
There are people and things and experiences
we know we miss and want to begin again.
I cannot complain deeply about what I have
sacrificed. Yes, there are things I miss, but I am healthy and
reasonably safe from the terrors of the world. I have the essentials
I need to start alive and stay well.
The month of June, though, reminds me of
those visits to breweries and tasting rooms on those pilgrimages.
Part of their attraction was the beer, but it was more about the
people who joined the exploration. The beer was very good, but it
was the spiritual life which sparked my attention.
Now, this June, we do not know the next time
we will be able to go exploring again. I do not know when I will be
able to walk in the door of a tasting room for the first time. It is
great to be able to open a bottle or can and try the results of what
someone has brewed, but it is not the same as visiting the place
where they brewed it.
I had hoped to be able to visit somewhere
new this month, but now I am not sure this June will allow it. It is
a challenge to find a satisfying substitute.
There are groups which gather online to
share the friendship and information which used to be found in good
craft tasting rooms in “virtual pubs.”
For example, the Campaign for Real
Ale(CAMRA) launched a #PullingTogether campaign in March to help
provide some of the social and spiritual benefits of tasting rooms
and pubs while they are dealing with the pandemic. It includes
information about brewing and other drinks through organized events.
The virtual pubs hosted a live music event and encourages pubs and
breweries to hold pub quizzes or beer tastings online.
I do not believe a virtual, online
experience can take the place of an actual Craft Brewery Pilgrimage.
Online tools can, though, allow us to share our pilgrimages with a
wider variety of other people.
It might be nice to share a visit to a
virtual tasting room sometime this month, at least until we can plan
a real life trip together.
Maybe June, or July?