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Pizza and beer
Pizza and beer in the new year? You bet. Photo by Peter Bravo De Los Rios
Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

Cheers! North County: Happy New Year! Now what?

2021 is here. Now what? The pandemic isn’t gone. Basically, in North County San Diego, everyone is arguing over school re-openings and masks and restaurant openings and allowing legal weed. It’s enough to make you want to head back to sleep for six more weeks.

Unfortunately, I’m not Punxsutawney Phil and can’t go back into hibernation. What I can do is follow the advice of my Mom. “You just got to make the best of it.” Hmm…What does “making the best of it” look like this year? Beer! Pizza! People! Two out of three of those are pretty straightforward.

We closed out the first weekend of the new year with a takeout dinner from Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside. My wife and I scarfed down pizzas with a side of It’s Festastic, a German-style amber lager next to our little gas patio fire. Side note: Before refrigeration, German brewers would brew lagers in late winter and then cold store them in underground cellars filled with ice from nearby lakes. They would mature underground through the summer months.

The Festastic has been aging splendidly, and in combination with homemade dough and sauce baked in a stone hearth oven, true joy was created in my mouth. The alchemy of pizza and beer is hard to describe fully.

Ten feet across from us, my wife’s snowbird parents gnawed on pizza and drank beers and a glass of wine. They brought their own plates and silverware and napkins for pizza grease. After 10 months of this pandemic, we’ve all gotten reasonably adept at the “shift mask, sip or bite, readjust mask” routine during the few in-person eating and drinking interactions we’ve had.

I’m grateful for these socially distanced moments with them. Sometimes I imagine striding across the patio in a devil-may-care manner to hug them, but then I remember what is at risk. My parents are thousands of miles away, and I hope that sometime in 2021, we will finally be able to close that gap again.

So instead, I move my mask, sip my delicious beer, and bring the mask back down. Make the best of it. Repeat.

One way I’ll be making the best of it throughout 2021 is by really appreciating the incredible creators in our local brewing, distilling and coffee roasting industries. San Diego is one of the finest beverage producing communities in the world, and San Diegans have the luxury of choice when it comes to supporting local.

Expect this column to be filled with plenty of interviews with local drink makers, explorations into some of the nuances that make them great, and even some pushing of boundaries as we learn more and more about these elixirs we all love so much.

I started writing the Cheers! North County column only a few weeks before the first pandemic shutdown, and yet somehow, with your help, we were able to pack in a whole bunch of drinking adventures last year. I’m looking forward to making the best of it, embarking on new adventures with all of you again in 2021. Thank you for reading.

Do you listen to podcasts? Are you interested in exciting things being done by interesting people in North County San Diego? Be sure to check out the most recent episode of the Cheers! North County podcast. Stream it on The Coast News online or search for it on your favorite podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Season 3 started with a surprise appearance from Santa on his way to pick up some coffee, beer and tacos, and guests from First Light Coffee Whiskey and Pacific Coast Spirits will help us kick off the new year.
Don’t forget to follow Cheers! North County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Got an interesting story about your drinking adventures? Reach out! I want to hear it.

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