A simple question, once with a simple answer, “Yes.” Depending on who posed this question, or to whom it was posed, this usually signified a pint or two at a regular or local pub, bar or tap room. A spontaneous jaunt after work perhaps or for those lucky enough, a swift pint with a colleague or friend on a break from work. But after many months of separation, hardship and scrutiny I wonder how easy that question is now to answer and, indeed, where the resulting drink may take place.
As I write this article, Covid restrictions have now all been lifted save for a couple of exceptions here and there. Bar service has resumed, indoor gatherings are no longer limited and you can enjoy a pint whilst seated or stood socialising. Alas for many, restrictions are a thing of the past but for the more health conscious, has opening the hospitality sector up scared them away rather than encouraged them out? Do they now favour a drink in the comfort of their own home?
I ask this after limited research in my own line of employment in the craft world, and after speaking to those in and around the local area too. What were once reliably busy days with pints aplenty being served and sipped, seem now to be sporadic and unpredictable at best. Granted, we are at the start of lockdown restrictions being eased, but it appears the floodgates have yet to be opened. Heck, they’re barely even ajar in some instances.
A governmental approach of ‘it’s up to you’ may not help with different rules from venue to venue; some still requiring face masks, bookings, operating table service and limiting capacity. Whilst I would like to point out I do not criticise for those that choose to still operate these policies, I do wonder where that leaves our beloved on trade. Is it easier to stay at home?
Likewise, after months of drinking at home and many a garden pub or bar being built during lockdown, I wonder how hard these trends and newly acquired habits will be to change. Undoubtedly, beer will always be better when served via keg or cask but with a menagerie of beer available at your fingertips you can’t help but understand why some are still hesitant at leaving their homes just yet.
With home working still in place for many business nationwide, there’s often little reason for people to venture out from their hideout. What once was a chance meeting, or arrangement of those who worked together or close by is now less likely to happen with some people unlikely to return to conventional office spaces for a long time, if ever again. We’ve become reliant on home deliveries and the world at our fingertips (ordering apps may also be a discouragement perhaps) and what was a simple train or taxi journey may now be a daunting task to some.
I must concede that I have my own trepidations about going back to normal (whatever that was and will now be) and I feel it will be a long time before my personal anxieties are no longer present when stood at a busy bar, gig or sporting event. I am confident in my own actions, but I do wonder whether once safe spaces are now not so safe.
I don’t write this article with an attempt to answer this question, more muse over it but it does make me wonder; what do people want? Where are they choosing to drink their beer, who with and by what means? Is what was once a quick pint or two now sharing a can or few in the comfort of a living room, garden or home bar? Only time will tell if people gain more confidence braving the wide world, or if their habits have been changed through their own volition or their hand being forced.