Real Beer, Virtual Events

The news last week (in my single-person household, anyway) was that my favorite event (the Great Taste) is canceled for this year. It’s a very well-run event, the beer is tasty (and if it’s not, you can dump it because look! There’s more!), and the event has grown to include tap takeovers at many bars and restaurants on the square in the two or three nights priorate the event. The tickets aren’t crazy expensive (if you can get them), but the hotel rooms are. I have gone for 10 of the past 11 years (one year every single one of us in the group I attend with was shut out), and I scored a cheaper hotel room for this year by booking it a year ago, which of course I will not use.

All that said, my first reaction after hearing the news was a kind of relief: even if they had gone forward with it, I was in no way comfortable attending an event that large in August. Even folks who adopt harm reduction strategies (is that beer in your glass? Make sure you have a glass of water before you put more beer in there) are inebriated by the end of the event. Not necessarily falling-down-drunk, but not sober, either. (The organizers also do a great job ensuring there are alternatives to driving, not least by not allowing parking nearby.) The people pouring beer are close to each other as well—the whole event would provide multiple opportunities for infecting hundreds or thousands of people. Cancelling it is the right thing to do. 

Why was I relieved? Because I would have been sad not to be there. I’m glad to have that small disappointment removed. Somehow, the disappointment around the cancellation is less than the disappointment I would have felt if it had happened and I didn’t attend.

I’m still holding tickets to two other events that have not been cancelled, and I’ve requested a refund for a third event that has been postponed indefinitely. Frankly, I’m willing to swallow the (substantial) cost of the non-cancelled events at this point; much as I enjoy the camping and the wandering around the track and everything else, I just don’t see how bringing people from all over the world together, in June or even August, for that matter, is a good idea. I’ve attended these events at these venues; I know what it’s like.

On the other hand, the brewery running series I do is doing virtual races in June and probably July; there was also an April virtual challenge, and I’m a week into the May virtual challenge. This has been pretty awesome—and working from home means that I do, in fact, have time to go for a run before work. (I usually do, mind you, but now I do even if there’s an early meeting.) Do I miss the camaraderie of the events? Yup. Do I miss actually being at the breweries? Hell yes. Do I miss seeing new neighborhoods, both on the way to the event and during the run? Also hell yes. But the virtual events have actually had their own pleasures as well, and, as noted, I’m running more. 

It still is just overwhelming and horrifying and frightening, and the devastation around us all is only going to get worse at least through June (IMHO). These “openings” are going to result in massive infection and death. I’m not exactly “happy” to skip the events that I enjoy so much, but it’s the only strategy that makes any sense at all.