The Virtual Taproom: How to Hang Out with Brewers and Learn About Beer Online
By its very definition, social distancing means we’ve had to put socializing on hold. We’re grateful that we get to cozy up in our living rooms with our favorite beers. #BeerMail and #PorchBombs are more exciting now than ever. Even before our favorite breweries and bars had to close their doors to on-premise business, a craft brew and a TV bingeing session made for a pretty great night. Many of us might be missing that socializing aspect of enjoying craft beer and cider, though. Just as breweries have you covered for your beer needs, they’re stepping up with virtual events, too, so you can turn your home into your own taproom. From brewery tours to happy hours to classes and lectures, here are some beer-fueled ways to get social without leaving the house.
Virtual Happy Hours with Collective Arts Brewing
At Collective Arts, art and craft beer are the perfect pairing. The Canadian brewery extends its mission of not only bringing together the community with great beer, but of also giving artists and musicians a platform with its virtual happy hour series. These social hangouts have a creative twist geared toward tapping into your inner artist.
“We’re teaming up with artists, musicians, brewers and other creatives,” explains Collective Arts communications coordinator Justin Fauteux. “Every episode, a different host will be showcasing their passions, and inspiring you to be more creative. People from all over the world can join to have a beer and relax. It could be an artist showing you around their space, an impromptu jam session, or one of our brewing friends talking all things beer.”
A Can Design Contest from Montauk Brewing Co.
Once you get those creative juices flowing from happy hours with Collective Arts, make sure to stop by Montauk Brewing Co.’s Instagram page for details on a fun contest they’re running. This isn’t a virtual hang per se, but an interactive challenge that gets you participating in the beer-naming and label-designing processes -- plus, of course there’s a prize.
You can start by e-mailing email@example.com to ask for a template, and you’ll get a picture of a blank Montauk beer can. Then, let the coloring commence, with crayons, pencils, markers, or whatever you want. You’ll also suggest a name for this artsy brew. Submit your take by June 1 and you could win $500 cash, and your design will be used in a limited run of cans when the beer goes into distribution. If you know Montauk’s beers, you know their cans are all about those splashes of color, so get bold with it.Once you get those creative juices flowing from happy hours with Collective Arts, make sure to stop by Montauk Brewing Co.’s Instagram page for details on a fun contest they’re running. This isn’t a virtual hang per se, but an interactive challenge that gets you participating in the beer-naming and label-designing processes -- plus, of course there’s a prize.
Virtual Happy Hours, Yoga, Trivia, and More with Goose Island Brewing Company
Every Thursday at 5pm CDT, you can join Goose Island head brewer Jon Naghski for a virtual happy hour. He welcomes a different guest each week, and the floor is open, so this is the chance to get answers to your burning questions on beer and brewing. The hangout can be found on the Goose Island Clybourn brew pub’s Instagram page.
Then on Saturdays at 12pm CDT, Goose Island teams up with Our City Events for virtual yoga classes. These sessions combine enjoying beer and getting social with some guided movement we could all use right now, aimed at finding a moment of zen. To participate, register here, then follow Goose Island and Our City Events on Instagram and you’ll get access to the classes. They’re free, but donations are appreciated and go to Our City Events teachers.
Goose Island isn’t done yet. Tuesday to Friday of each week, they’re teaming up with TriviaTainment to run quiz competitions on different themes like “The Office,” Disney, and “Friends,” for example, so choose your obsession accordingly. There are three time slots per day, so you can pick one and compete nationally against other players. All the dates, times, and information for signing up can be found here.
There are even more events being scheduled all the time, so make sure to stay tuned to Goose Island’s Instagram page. You can catch live music from up-and-coming artists, and cooking demonstrations from “Top Chef” winners like Paul Kahan, Cameron Grant, and Beverly Kim -- every chef will show you some impressive kitchen moves, and Goose Island gives $1,000 to the charity of their choice.
Homebrewing and Beer-and-Cheese Pairings with City Brew Tours
If learning the art of pairing beer and cheese is more your style, CBT has one-hour sessions (with casual hangs afterward, you can stay as long as you like) with expert guides who will tell you all the little ins and outs of beer, cheese, and what makes certain styles go with certain varieties. The beer and cheese is not included, but that just gives you more freedom. Check out the recommendations from City Brew Tours and then go shopping for your favorite cheeses and beers. City Brew Tours arranges tours of different breweries all over the United States and Canada, so until we can visit those breweries again, the company is offering online experiences. There’s the Homebrew Experience, for all you DIY-ers that might finally have the time to try your hand at making your own beer. City Brew Tours has curated a kit of homebrewing essentials you can order, and then you can join a three-hour class guided by a homebrewing wiz to get you going.
Virtual Brewery Tours
Speaking of brewery tours, there are plenty you can explore without actually leaving home. You can crack open a Brooklyn Lager and join Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver on a guided video tour of the brewing space. Or, go for the Luppolo, an unfiltered and dry-hopped pilsner from Oxbow Brewing Company, and then tour their space on YouTube via The Maine Brew Bus.
Virtual Beer School with CraftBeer.com
Where did beer actually come from and how long have we been drinking it? How is it brewed, and with what types of ingredients? What different styles of beer are there, and what distinguishes those styles? Now is the perfect time to learn about your favorite drink. A class on the basics of beer makes having a pint more of an experience. CraftBeer.com has an on-demand virtual course called Beer 101 that’s accessible, super informative, and yes, it’s “school” that’s actually fun. It’ll help you make even more informed choices when you’re beer shopping and drinking, and you’ll have some tidbits to share with friends the next time you’re talking brews. Enroll here.
Virtual Lectures with The Chicago Brewseum
Once you learn the basics, why stop there? The Chicago Brewseum is a project that curates exhibits and events discussing the legacy of beer and its impact on our society and culture. They’re hosting virtual lectures on Zoom that dive deep into fascinating little pockets of history and what role beer played in that history. Topics include how Australian brewing got started in the eighteenth century in New South Wales, a history of British beer styles, and a history of Cinco de Mayo and how it’s celebrated. There’s even a Brewseum book club. For a schedule of talks and information on how to join in, check out the Brewseum’s event page.
Music From Breweries to Set a Taproom Vibe
Maybe you just want to feel like you’re hanging in your favorite taproom when you’re in your own living room. Some breweries are creating playlists and finding other ways to get their favorite music out there so you can press play and be instantly transported. Enjoy a Rubsam & Horrman Pilsner while listening to The R&H Beer Radio Show. Brian Quinn, who helms R&H, plays his favorite music every Monday from 6pm to 8pm. Tune in here. Or, treat yourself to your favorite Springdale beer and unwind with the brewery’s playlists, curated to bring a little extra Springdale into fans’ homes. Springdale Beer Co. marketing director Rob Day says that, when open, the taproom reflects the staff’s eclectic tastes, and these playlists are a way to “exhibit that in the digital world.”