Hopefully, it’s not a sign that Victoria’s current lockdown will resemble last year’s extended double whammy, but one of the cheerier craft beer aspects of the COVID pandemic has returned: collaborative beer boxes.
Back in the early days of the 2020 shutdown, such multi-brewery offerings appeared at speed across the country, with Hop Nation one of the first to get one into punters' hands in the shape of their Communitinnies boxes. And now they're back for 2021, thanks to an impressive turnaround from the newly-crowned AIBA champs considering their home state has only been in lockdown for less than a week.
The box features 12 cans from as many breweries, with Hop Nation's Duncan Gibson (pictured above left with co-founder Sam Hambour) saying the team launched into action as soon as they saw the initial snap seven-day lockdown could be extended. Their hope for the new mixed case remains the same as when they first brought some of their brewing mates together more than a year ago: encouraging drinkers to support a broad selection of local breweries.
“The whole thing started as a way people could support multiple breweries at once and, with lockdown, to share the love around,” Duncan says.
“It's a great selection of beer for drinkers and it means they know the money goes to the brewers rather than some gimmick.”
With the Victorian Government today confirming Melbourne will enter at least another seven days of lockdown – with the rest of the state continuing to operate under lesser restrictions – the Keeping Local Alive message is back front and centre for many in the Melbourne beer world. Although nobody ever likes to see a pub or brewery shut, Duncan says if there is any silver lining to this lockdown it's timing – and the fact Good Beer Week managed to scrape through unaffected.
“It’s very nice this isn’t happening a week earlier,” he says, reflecting on an event that reunited so many in the beer industry for the first time since the pandemic hit.
“I had a great week. It was just really good to see the beer community together and having a good time and tasting beers.”
Communitinnies are available through Hop Nation's online store.