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Featured image: From left: Johnny, Navin, Regi and Batu at St. Augustine’s in Vancouver. Photo: Buddy Turner

What can I say about 2020 that we don’t already know? British Columbia confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in late January. Since then, the pandemic has evolved into an unprecedented healthcare crisis across our province and the world. Thousands of people faced, and are still experiencing, huge curveballs and bumpy roads with challenging times in their personal and professional lives.

Facebook’s Memories feature resonates with me more this year than ever before. It allows people to see what they did on a day any number of years ago. The memories refresh every day; it’s like a digital diary in which I can look back on my life and see changes over the years. Notifications pop up on my iPhone, and with a smile on my face, I happily open and look through those memories. However, I’m also sad because next year’s memories will not show photos telling stories of gatherings amongst friends, hanging out at new or familiar places and travelling.

Changes to how we socialize

The world around us has changed because of COVID-19, including the way we can currently socialize. Our health authorities are focused on containing the coronavirus by breaking up and preventing transmission chains and concentrating on flattening the curve through restrictions, orders, and bans on numerous activities like social gatherings, non-essential travel, etc.

Before the horrible virus infiltrated our lives, we freely gathered and socialized in “places of business,” mingling with friends and others at shared long tables, wandering around meeting people or saying hello to someone you have not seen in some time. For my brother Regi and me, our favourite “places of business” is not a single place, it is a community of fantastic craft breweries, craft-focused bars, taphouses and tasting rooms. It would be unusual if a week passed without us visiting one or more establishments within the Lower Mainland’s craft beer community.

Our adventures in tasting craft beer took us on afternoon and day trips, weekends and longer “beercations” to destinations throughout our beautiful province, the United States, and internationally. We noticed the common thread at all the craft beer-focused places and communities has always been the kind and amazing people. Our interactions with people along our journeys have fostered many friendships. These experiences are all part and parcel of being out and about having human interactions and enjoying life’s pleasures. It was a time before personal protective equipment, social-distancing guidelines, restrictions and social bubbles were top of mind and part of our everyday vocabulary.

Adapting in a time of uncertainty

My brother Regi (of Reg’s Beer Adventures) and I have adapted to the health authorities’ safety measures by putting our social interactions in “places of business” on hold, which profoundly saddens us. We have shifted (hopefully only temporarily) to immersive videotelephony technologies such as Zoom and Facetime, which let us socialize, mingle, laugh and be with people in virtual environments of chats, groups, and events. We are happy these technologies are available during these unprecedented times, but we would prefer to be with people socializing and interacting in person.

When it comes to consuming our favourite craft beers, for now, we primarily drink at home. However, we show our support for the local craft breweries and do our part to help them through these troubling times by stocking up on their tasty libations. Besides purchasing craft beers at liquor stores, we also head out to local breweries to grab beers at their retail counter or order through their online store to pick up our pre-selected goodies. Also, many breweries offer delivery services right to your front door, which we also use.

Craft beer is something Regi and I both enjoy. For us, it isn’t about getting inebriated; it’s about spending time catching up with friends and making new ones, sharing conversations, stories and laughs.

Due to current rules, we cannot freely walk around at “places of business” to interact and engage with other people and groups outside our social bubble. We both understand and appreciate the safety measures are in place to keep everyone safe as our province’s health authorities’ rules and guidelines about COVID-19 continue to evolve.

Hopefully, one day, we will not have the wariness of the COVID-19 virus lurking in our minds, and we will be able to socialize again freely. Maybe the new normal might be different than what we are used to, or perhaps things will return to how it once was—which is what Regi and I hope!


Navin Autar

Navin has been following the BC and North American craft beer scenes devotedly for years. Along with his brother Regi, he has attended countless beer festivals as Vancity Craft Bros.

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