I was starting to feel like Will Smith in the 2007 post-apocalyptic action thriller “I Am Legend.” Remember the plotline? Smith played a US Army virologist running around New York City immune to a virus that was originally created to cure cancer—only to wipe out everyone but him and a slew of unforgivably hideous nocturnal mutants.

What can I say, I love those “post-apocalyptic-world-is-going-end-and-somehow-this-person-is-the-last-man-standing” movies. Remember Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes” and “The Omega Man?” he hopelessly types dating himself.

So there I was, midway through one of my nightly walks with a friend, trying to remember the last time I had a night out with the gang. Turns out, it was the beginning of last year, where I met with a bunch of my buddies at Cherry Street Brewing, one of the breweries we’ve featured right here in CBAM.

As it turned out, the conversation centered on the impending doom all of us were about to partake in—masks, social distancing, curbside takeout, virtual happy hours, and the list goes on. As we fist-bumped our way through a night of catching up and looking ahead, none of us really imagined what was before us.

It feels weird to reminisce so hard about that mask-less exhilaration of taking deep breaths, pulling up a chair to listen to a little live music, and soaking in every bit of all those things we so took for granted.

So there is some hope out amid the madness of the last year we have endured. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is still work to do.

And then it happened. The vaccine hit and (most) people everywhere started to stand in line to help get us past this madness. So here we are. With most restrictions lifted, the return to whatever normalcy awaits is beginning. Just recently, I ventured out with some of the old gang to have a beer and listen to some music. The summer nights will make that more of a habit.

So there is some hope out amid the madness. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is still work to do. But as we continue to do a deep dive into what exactly happened since the walls came tumbling down, so to speak, there is much to be studied and learned from. As for the craft spirit world, we stayed true to the legacy of our profession by pushing forward when pushing forward did not seem possible. Some did curbside. Some made hand sanitizer. Everyone did what they could not make the abnormal seem bearable.

Do you remember where you were when they said stop? Do you remember how it made you feel?

Here’s till we can all toast one to the heroes who made that possible again.

While it may not seem like it, the light is in front of us—out there flickering and begging us to stay committed to what needs to be done to reach it.

Until then, masks and elbow bumps and Zoom calls and longing for the day when I can grab a fistful of M&Ms and toss them into my popcorn will have to do. It has taken me (us) this far.

Stay safe. Stay strong.

And let me know if you have any good movie recommendations.

Story by Michael J. Pallerino, editor of Craft Brand & Marketing magazine. Over the past 30-plus years, he has won numerous awards, including the “Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award,” recognized as the Pulitzer Prize for business-to-business magazines. He can be reached at mikep@ccr-mag.com.