Beer is working hard these days.
When every day feels the same, when the only way to tell one week from the next is the curve on a graph, it’s how we mark the coming of evening and discern the ghostly outline of our weekends. Beer as anchor to reality.
The presence of bottles, cans and glasses is how you tell whether the Zoom call you’re in is for work or pleasure. It makes quizzes and frustrating can-you-hear-me, you’re-on-mute, no-you-go-first conversations just about bearable. It enables the seance.
It’s memory. Cask ale from a bag in a box to recall the Drapers Arms; mixed cases of cans as a faint reminder of turning up at a strange bar in a strange town and exploring strange breweries; bottles of Augustiner or Westmalle on the sofa standing in for train journeys, hotels, warm beer garden evenings.
We expect it to distract us, too. To be something we can talk about that doesn’t hurt or scare us. To provide new experiences when those are a rare commodity. Little presents to ourselves that arrive in the post.
And it’s what we’re looking forward to – the end point that will tell us we’ve made it through, the whole family around the pub table, thinking about nothing but the cards in our hands or whatever trivial question we’ve decided to half argue over.