Statistics show we are all, in general, drinking more during lockdown. As usual with statistics, you have to look at them with a jaundiced eye. It is not surprising that off-licence and supermarket alcohol sales are up when pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs are all shut. Deprived of the option of a few jars at the local, we have had to adapt.
Restrictions on non-essential travel led me and I suggest others to look favourably on deliveries to home. Given the impossibility for the able-bodied at getting a supermarket home delivery slot this has encouraged us to look further afield. Amazon being a prime (no pun intended) example.
Unsurprisingly the big brewers are content to allow the public to pick up their usual bland Euro-fizz lagers and lowest common "taste" denominator "bitters" from the supermarket and no doubt are still shifting plenty of product although I have heard sad tales of farmers having to feed malting barley to livestock due to brewers cancelling orders.
The smaller operators do not have anything like the shelf presence of the big brewers, if they have any shelf presence at all.
Closure of free houses has cut off a vital outlet for getting their products to the public. This has forced them to be agile and inventive. The strength of the small organisation is that it can do that as there is not a huge chain of command paralyzing the decision making process.
I have to confess that although I will try new beers and ciders I tend to be prejudiced that anything labelled "craft beer" is a bit like DIY - at its best almost as good as something professionally done and at its worst making you wonder why they bothered in the first place.
The current obsession with American-style IPAs with Citra hops is a personal bugbear. If I want a drink that tastes like grapefruit I will buy grapefruit juice and not beer.
Similarly, calling sickly sweet drinks made up with all sorts of fruits often to the exclusion of apples and which taste and smell like old fashioned cheap boiled sweets as cider is plain wrong as far as I am concerned.
However, personal idiosyncrasies aside, it is amazing how many small breweries are successfully using social media to keep selling their beer in the absence of pubs.
From established market leaders like Brewdog down to tiny micro breweries from all parts of the kingdom they are popping up on Facebook and other social media platforms offering something different and I, personally, have found it interesting to try a few and I hope and trust that others have done so too. In this way, micro breweries who would probably have been selling their beer generally in the local area have extended their reach from Cornwall to Yorkshire and indeed beyond.
To me it is a win-win situation. We get to try new beers and they are awarded for their innovation and enterprise by keeping selling despite the lockdown.
Necessity may be the mother of invention but in my case it is also the father of weight gain!
Originally published June 17, 2020.
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