Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

October 20, 2020

Beer Diary:

Outdoor Winter Tippling Tips

Stay safe from the pandemic and stay warm with these winter patio drinking tactics.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
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The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious threat to people’s lives and livelihood. It’s posing an even bigger threat to the existence of your neighborhood brewpub. It’s up to us beer dorks to do what we can to help keep these vibrant and critical pieces of the independent beer scene alive while at the same time keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe.

Obviously the safest way to support your local brewery is to buy beer to-go or at your favorite bottle shop—if said brewery is well-off enough to package and sell in retail establishments. While taking a load of beer home so you can sit in your darkened basement and drink alone is ideal for a misanthropic mutant like myself, for most people this is a recipe for insanity. Drinking or otherwise socially interacting with other humans is integral for people’s mental health.

Yet like a lot of people with critical thinking skills, even if it is legal to drink inside the local watering hole, I don’t feel safe hanging out in a petri dish of a bunch of rando’s coughs, sneezes, belches, and other sundry exhalations. Our only option, then, is tippling outdoors on the brewpub patio while social distancing. The problem is that here in the Midwest, standing outside during certain months of the year is considered a cruel and unusual punishment. That means we have to find smart and creative ways to stay warm while sitting and enjoying a beer outside in these dark winter months. Below are a few ideas I’ve come up with. I would love to hear other’s ideas, too.

Wear a Mask

This has nothing to do with staying warm but everything to do with not being an asshole. If you’re indoors or can’t social distance, wear a mask and don’t be a whining prick about it. Wearing a mask won’t prevent you from breathing or violate your constitutional rights—whatever the fuck you think those are—but will help protect the people around you. So just do it and make sure it covers your nose, too, for fuck’s sake.

Layer Up

The most obvious tactic for surviving outdoor winter drinking is to just wear a shitload of clothes. And guess what. It works. The trick is to always bring more layers than you think you’ll ever need—you can always take stuff off, but you can’t put layers you don’t have on. I prefer my layering with the lightest layers underneath and building up to heavy stuff on the outside. Like, beer t-shirt under long-sleeved beer shirt under hooded beer sweatshirt under a parka. That way if the sun comes out or the wind stops or you just walked five miles between brewpubs you can quick doff one of the outer layers and dial in the right amount of warmth. And it can’t hurt anyone to supplement your layer arsenal by buying the brewpub’s applicable merch, if they have it.

Keep Those Piggies Warm

For me, the biggest challenge with being outdoors in the cold for any length of time is keeping my toes warm. Some folks love those toe warmer packs you can buy, but I personally hate them. They barely seem to work and it feels like you have an extra big toe crammed into your boot. The tactic I take is to layer a lighter wicking sock underneath a heavier wool one. But I also use this inventive biathlete technique: slather your feet in antiperspirant. The thought behind this is when you first put on your socks and boots, your feet are too warm, and therefore sweat, which will, after being outside for an hour or so, make your toes feel like ice cubes. Prevent that sweat to prevent that threat. Plus, who can argue with less stinky feet?

Everyone Likes a Good Sit

Eventually, you’re gonna have to take a load off. And nothing will make your body temperature drop a couple degrees faster than sitting on a frozen metal chair or a chunk of frigid concrete. It’s like you can feel the cold seeping up through your butt like a cancer. Luckily, with a little planning you won’t have to choose between relaxation and ass-freezing-offness. Bringing along a towel or an old cushion to sit on are simple but effective ideas, but I prefer those styrofoam peanut-filled cushions you can get for deer hunting. The styrofoam actually absorbs and retains the heat from your body, eventually making it feel like you’re sitting on a little heater.

Go Big or Freeze Your Ass Off

There’s a reason why they call high alcohol beers “winter warmers.” Although imbibing alcohol actually lowers your body temperature, it gives you the sensation of feeling warmer, allowing for a few more precious minutes of brewpub patio time. So unless you’re driving, now’s the time to indulge in those imperial stouts, barley wines, old ales, and double IPAs and their sometimes double-digit alcohol percentages. We’re all adults here to enjoy the nuances of indie beer and not see how shitfaced drunk we can get, so I trust you not to overdo it and wind up face-first in a snow drift or bobbing in the Mississippi River.

Stay Safe

Lastly, just stay safe. Be smart. Stay informed. Listen to the experts. Tip your servers as much as you can. Together, with a little luck, we—and our favorite brewpubs—are going to get through this.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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