With the cold weather, the end of year typically brings with it a warm nostalgia as we take inventory of the last twelve months and look towards the next twelve with naïve and stupid optimism. The nostalgia for me has nothing to do with sweet memories of childhood Christmases or anything like that, but instead with year-end social and pop culture best-of lists. Top 10 albums, Spotify Wrapped and the Untappd Year in Beer. That’s my jam.
Untappd is kinda like Instagram, in that the beer you’re drinking or the thing you’re taking a photo of is only part of the equation. The other part is our needy human ego which makes us want to brag about being at a cool place and drinking a beer that’s way better than your less cool friends are drinking at their boring homes. And if I can’t sit in a perfectly lit taproom, staging a portrait mode photo of a beer for 10 minutes before I even take a sip, then what the hell’s the point of logging it?
I crossed the New Mexico state border only twice in 2020, funnily (or sadly) enough both times to Texas. That’s it. Last year was photos of beer in Barcelona and pints in Paris. Needless to say, pics of hard-to-find beers geotagged in exotic locations were just not a thing this year.
Back in 2018, I logged an embarrassing 341 unique beers across 6 states and 75 different venues on Untappd. This year it was a sad 19 unique beers from 8 different venues, led by my #1 drinking hole, Untappd at Home.
Yet somehow, I bet I drank more beer in 2020 than 2018 (and maybe 2019 combined). Instead of exploring new venues and tasting exciting beers by the bottle, we bought cases of our favorite beers to-go at the taprooms, brought them home and, well, we drank them. That was the miserably sad formula, supporting the local economy one 16-ounce can at a time.
I was recently asked what lessons I learned in 2020. I should have said “resilience” or some shit, but my answer was that sometimes it’s OK to drink 3 beers on a Wednesday night and, for me, every night in 2020 felt like a lonely Wednesday night. The world’s a hellhole, gimme another beer. #selfcare
And maybe that’s the rub. Pandemics aren’t the time to satiate our thirsty egos by padding our beer stats or sharing well-curated insta shots (unless they’re in mountains and you’re surrounded by trees and no humans). We hopefully help keep our favorite places chugging along with our to-go orders and make this little sacrifice until we’re back in that taproom again soon, amongst friends and strangers, taking heavily filtered photos of pint glasses and once again drinking beer in public.
Here’s a perfect 2020 song off my favorite album of the year, Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud. The song, “Can’t Do Much” is a love song, but feeling isolated and questioning your sanity over something you love and miss, well, I figure that could be any one of us this year. Until we’re in that taproom again, stay home, practice social distancing, wear the damn mask and support local beer.