Random Beer Thoughts: August 2020

Things have gotten a little crazy at work and in life recently, even more than “normal” or even “the 2020 version of normal”, so I’ve had to cut back a little on Hoppy Boston posts. That will probably be a trend for the foreseeable future, but I will try to keep a somewhat regular flow of content and I will especially try to keep up with these monthly thoughts/links columns. Honestly, I’ve really struggled to write about beer recently for a wide variety of reasons, but I will try to keep at it when I can. If you are looking for more beer recommendations in addition to my occasional reviews make sure you follow Hoppy Boston on Instagram, I make sure to feature some beers on there that I enjoy but won’t have time to fully write up (or I reviewed positively before and still enjoy today). Onto the links. As always, feel free to pass along anything that you think should be featured it future iterations of this article.

COVID-19 continues to have big effects on the industry. Massachusetts changed the rules for open restaurants, requiring people to order food along with any drinks, and this threw a big wrench in plans for many breweries and beer gardens. This change was clearly meant to target bars but it highlights how this whole re-opening plan has been poorly thought out. How is an outdoor beer garden with spaced seating but no food more dangerous than an indoor restaurant? Too many parts of the whole reopening plan have been haphazard and not based on the science, and I think we’re all going to pay for it this fall/winter. Unfortunately, we’ve also had too many instances of bars/beer gardens not following the rules, which is a whole other problem. I also hope that some help for the whole industry comes soon, as popular places like Lord Hobo (the bar, not the brewery) are having a tough time.

The other major thing that is going on in this country is obviously the push for social justice and equality, and it will hopefully have a major impact on a craft beer industry which has struggled to attract a diverse clientele. Good Beer Hunting has published a series of articles on the lack of diversity in craft beer. Part one looks at the origins of inequality in craft beer, part two looks at the issues with culture and workplace practices, and part three argues that addressing issues with inclusion, equality and justice could determine if breweries flourish or fail. All three articles are well worth the read, and hopefully craft beer, and the whole country, starts moving in a better direction.

Lots of great stuff coming out of Allagash this month, including the consistently great beer the brewery is known for. Allagash is celebrating 25 years, and celebrated with 25 days of charitable giving. Allagash has also taken the Crafted For All Pledge, a framework designed by Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham to diversify and expand the craft beer community. I hope to see many more breweries make a similar pledge in the near future, it is a much more meaningful step than a post or hashtag on social media or a collaboration brew for charity.

Hop Culture has a profile of Bent Water Brewing along with a discussion about brewing consistent beer.

Unfortunately there is another brewery closing to report, Somerville Brewing Company AKA Slumbrew is closing the brand and liquidating their assets. This isn’t a huge surprise after the recent news that they had filed for bankruptcy protection compounded with the challenges of the pandemic. It’s been a rough stretch for the breweries that helped start the current Massachusetts craft beer boom, it’s sad to lose some of these seminal local breweries.

Even with all of the current challenges in the industry we do have some breweries moving forward with plans to open. Sterling Street Brewing is planning to open in Clinton this fall. Veteran contract brand Portico Brewing is planning on opening a brewery and taproom in the Union Square neighborhood of Somerville. Aeronaut has purchased the former Down The Road brewery space in Everett which will allow them to increase capacity and potentially open another taproom. The Owl’s Nest, Night Shift’s seasonal beer garden on the Charles River, is also back open.

Springdale Brewing has a discussion on their rotating hazy IPA series and the music that inspires the beers.

Hop Culture has a list of social-distance acceptable activities to try in the Boston area this summer, complete with breweries near each activity. With the constant changes in rules it is probably important to check with any listed brewery about hours/reservations before swinging by.

Clickbait Article of the Month: We have a tie this month! Mandatory has a ranking of the 10 best craft beers, which is a typical mix of classics and hype-beers (or beers that were hype beers a few years ago). October has a list of the best IPAs of 2020 (so far). Just trying to make a list like this is ridiculous, and you won’t be surprised at all to find that a AB-InBev owned brewery cracks the list.

One other article just missed out on the CAOTM: Boston.com has a run down of the top-rated breweries in MA based on Beer Advocate data, which is kind of a throw-away piece and features many of the places you would expect.

That is it for August, thanks again for reading and sharing/commenting/liking my posts on social media. Hopefully my output will pick back up a bit as we get into a new routine this fall.

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