by Kevin M. Smith

Let’s face it – 2020 hasn’t been easy, and the year’s bullshit is just going to roll over into 2021. That’s how rough this year has been. 2020 is going to screw with 2021. It’s inevitable. The American response to the pandemic has been atrocious, and the effects are going to linger.

To compound…maybe to emphasize this point, Baltimore just shut down tasting rooms and restaurants, returning to the curbside pick-up/take-out. Montgomery County is considering putting the same restrictions in place, and will likely do so soon. I’m guessing you’re going to see a lot of other places follow suit – the dominoes are about to start falling again.

Okay. I get it. This isn’t exactly the holiday message you’re looking for…that any of us are looking for.

I’m tired of this. We all are. But the dominoes are beginning to fall again.

And this is where the holiday cheer comes in, strange as it might sound.

We’re hot and heavy into the holiday season, and let’s face it, if you’re a brewery, winery, distillery, or restaurant employee or owner, your holiday is about to get a hell of a lot harder. So, I’m really not talking to them. I’m talking to the rest of you. For those of you still looking for gifts for loved ones, or even if you’re done, consider picking up a few more gifts.

For many of us, these are our happy places; they are our homes away from our homes. We go there to relax and unwind, to celebrate the good in our lives, and to get away from the bad. As we are moving back to a model that removes their tasting rooms, tap rooms, and dining rooms, we are moving to a much less profitable model for many of these places.

If you are in a place of financial comfort during these trying time, buy your wife or husband that case of wine from Red Heiffer, Knob Hall, Big Cork, Boordy, Loew Vineyards, or whatever your favorite local winery is. If a case is too pricy, maybe pick up a bottle or three. Consider mixing and matching from various vineyards from around the state – taste the difference between Crow Vineyard on the Eastern Shore and Mount Felix in the state’s Piedmont region. Hell, put together a sampler pack of six wines from around the state.

If spirits are the thing that your gift target prefers, there are any number of distilleries from around the state to support. Baltimore Spirits just released their fifth anniversary edition of their Epoch Rye, and Tenth Ward recently dropped canned cocktails, including a smoked whiskey sour. McClintock in Frederick recently received national recognition for their products. For something different, your can get someone a bottle of Shochu from the American Shochu Company.

For the beer geek in your life, crowlers, new/rare beer releases, brewery swag – the list is pretty significant. If you’re in Baltimore, check out who your locals are, maybe even arrange a surprise delivery of Full Tilt, Peabody Heights, or Nepenthe to the person you’re looking to buy for (by the way – American Shochu, Clear Skies Meadery, Schmidt Spirits, and six Maryland wineries are on Biermi). If you have the time, you can always make a trip to one of the hot new spots like Brewery Fire, Flood Zone, Homaide to pick something up.

I guess what I’m getting at, is during this holiday season, as you are looking to buy for friends and family, do what you can to support your small, local producers. Not only are they friends and neighbors, but they feed money back into our economy, purchasing local grain, hiring from within their communities, supporting local charities – and the products, which make great gifts, are enjoyed by many. And don’t forget – most of the places offer gift cards as well.

Until next time,