These days everyone’s doing their best to get by, and at VA Growler we’re no different. Stuck at home. Working a lot, or not at all. Trying to keep busy, stay motivated, remain human. And occasionally combing our hair for a video conference.
Fortunately, there’s no need to resort to bathtub gin with so many craft beer, wine and spirits readily available for pickup and delivery. So, we checked in with some of our contributors to see how they’re getting on and what they’ve stocked in their coronavirus survival kits – besides toilet paper and hand sanitizer, that is.
- What beer/wine/liquor are you drinking?
- What are you binge watching/reading/doing?
- What are you listening to?
- What comfort food are you eating?
Ben Swenson, contributor
Williamsburg’s craft beverage scene is what a realtor would call “cozy,” meaning I can easily get beer, wine, liquor or mead straight from the source. So, I am supporting my neighbors by sipping away on Brass Cannon Brewing’s Skull New England IPA.
As it turns out, dogs, chickens and human children require constant attention. And I’m pretending to work during the rare moment I can hide and not be found.
When I’m in the mood for toe-tapping, I’m cranking the volume on my Celtic Pandora station. When the better me would be parenting, I’m listening to fast-paced audiobooks by John Grisham and C.J. Box.
I’ve recently spotted parts of my freezer I had forgotten existed. That means my comfort food is three-year-old, freezer-burned, manager’s special chicken thighs and desiccated blocks of succotash that must have looked appealing at the time.
Jessica Shea, photographer
Currently utilizing my bottle of Belle Isle Black Label moonshine to make my raspberry version of its Shiny Lemonade. It’s so refreshing on these gorgeous spring days we’ve been having.
My husband and I are building our dream home, so we’re out there almost every day in the evenings once the builders are gone, watching the sunset over Stumpy Lake and admiring the progress. It’s what we have to look forward to in these gloomy times. Since it’s in a small community of 14 houses, most of which aren’t done yet, we’re not putting ourselves or anyone at risk by being there.
I find myself listening to Calum Scott a lot these days. I just love his raw emotion and range. Ironically, his song “What I Miss Most” is hitting home right about now: “Life beyond the window/I’m jealous of the way the black bird flies/Free among the people/Those quarter million stories pass me by.”
Trying to find a balance between supporting local and utilizing the food we bought, which for someone like me who isn’t blessed with many culinary skills is nothing exciting. Las Palmas, our favorite local Mexican place is across the street from us, so we’ve been ordering from there quite a few times.
Clay Barbour, executive editor
I am enjoying a lot of Free Verse from the Virginia Beer Company and New Realm’s Hazy Like a Fox.
I’ve been working my way back through the “West Wing.” My wife never watched it, so it has been fun introducing her to it. And let’s be honest, a show about idealistic people trying their best to do the right thing is welcomed tonic for these troubled times.
Lately, I have been digging classic UFO a lot. Michael Schenker could really shred. And I never stray too far away from Tom Waits.
I feel like we are eating a lot of spaghetti. My wife has a great recipe and it’s really easy to make lots of it and eat leftovers for days.
Pete Newell, contributor
I’ve embarked on a quest to find my perfect gin and tonic using my favorite Virginia gins: Commonwealth, Tinkerman’s, Caiseal. Each gin and each tonic create a unique flavor profile, so it’s been interesting to see how they meld together.
I’ve been watching a lot of movies with the family. We rotate who gets to pick the movie each night, so the types of movies have been all over the place. We’ve watched “Corpse Bride,” “Creed,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Shazam,” and “Richard Jewell,” just to name a few.
I’ve listened to a lot of Michael Kiwanuka lately. For some reason, his music just speaks to my quarantine mood.
I’ve grilled more in the past month than I have in the past two years. Steaks, burgers, ribs, Philly cheesesteaks, bratwursts, the list goes on and on.
George Culver, photographer
I am going through the house drinking everything we’ve been hoarding (wine, liquor, beer), but I happened to pass by Rip Rap Brewing after making a take-out run and bought a four-pack of the new Steamship New England IPA and was very impressed with it. Forget toilet paper, I’m stocking up on this stuff.
I was turned on to a game called RimWorld (for PC) that I started playing where you basically control a group of survivors, aka unwitting colonists, who crash land on a far-reaching planet. Need a place to sleep? Better make it! Need to keep warm? Time to chop some wood! Can’t stand your fleshy hand? Let’s install a bionic one! If you don’t keep them comfortable be prepared for them to go crazy and do things that aren’t so nice.
I have Zionsville by Khruangbin on loop. It is super-chill and gives me a Calgon moment every time it starts.
I picked up a tub of Sloane’s Smoked Gouda Dip from The Creative Wedge at the Old Beach Farmer’s Market in Virginia Beach. If you haven’t had that yet, you’re missing out. I can eat a sleeve or Ritz crackers loaded with it in no time flat.
Victoria Bourne, associate editor
Honestly, a little of everything. But so far, I’ve really enjoyed Benchtop’s Jam Pact blueberry and raspberry gose and wish I’d stocked twice as much of it.
Binge-watched “Picard” and “Star Trek: Discovery” in the first week or two of quarantine. Just started reading Michael Chabon’s “Werewolves in Their Youth” collection of short stories. Walking the dog – a lot.
Lots of yacht rock while mowing the lawn and tuning in to Phish’s Dinner and a Movie and Radiohead’s #StayHome weekly archival concert videos.
When I seek comfort my palate regresses to 12-year-old me, so macaroni and cheese, burgers, breakfast for dinner. We’ve been ordering out/doing take out a lot as well, supporting our local eateries as best we can.
Eric Wallace, contributor
Virginia Distillery Company’s Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky with a splash of water.
Reading Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children.”
Listening to The Twangbangers, “26 Days on the Road”
Eating curbside pickup meals from chef Ian Boden’s fantastic The Shack restaurant in Staunton.
Frank Morgan, wine contributor
I’ve been drinking exclusively local wine and holding live virtual tasting and interviews with winemakers (video replays of them all are online). Recently, we have had a Veritas Vineyards 2015 Scintilla sparkling wine chilling and I opened a bottle of Keswick Vineyards 2017 Cab Franc to pair with steaks on the grill.
I’ve returned to reading books that I enjoyed years ago like “The Sun Also Rises” (which I first read 25 years ago while on a trip and come back to often) and M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Gastronomical Me.” And I am building a lot of Legos with my daughter.
Like books and food, I’m returning to comfort music. For me that’s music from the 1990s Seattle grunge scene: Alice in Chains, Tad, Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Nirvana.
More comfort: fried chicken and French fries made at home, and cinnamon toast like my mom used to make (lightly toasted, lots of butter, sugar and cinnamon).
EJ Toudt, creative director
I’ve really gotten into pilsners recently and have been enjoying Smartmouth’s Safety Dance and Benchtop’s Crispy Whip Czech Pilsner.
Binge watched “Hunters” on Amazon Prime, “Manifest” and sadly “Hoarders” on Hulu.
I have started listening back on some of my favorites like Jeff Buckley’s “Grace,” Beck’s “Sea Change” and Shiner’s “The Egg.”
Loving tacos, traditional meat loaf and chili.