The Year In Beer
Submitted by  Morgan O'Neil

Undoubtedly, the past decade has seen more changes in the American beer industry
than at any other time in history, except perhaps for Prohibition. Think new breweries,
new styles, new terms. It was only a couple years ago that the hazy IPA exploded in
popularity, and only within the past year that hard seltzer water made its debut.

For both professionals and consumers alike, the end of the year is a chance to reflect on
what we’ve seen in the past and to think about what’s coming next. Here's what the
experts are saying about trends we saw this year.

2019 saw an ever increasing diversity in craft beer.  
The faces of craft beer are changing. Craft brewing continues to become more inclusive
than ever before. It's a welcome natural progression since craft by it's nature welcomes
all to great beer.

There was a focus on craft malt.
If malt is a potato, then hops are salt. Sure, spices are sexy, but they can’t stand by
themselves. That’s what more and more brewers are starting to realize, especially as the
industry matures and brewers find themselves with the time, energy, and resources to
focus on the sourcing of ALL their raw ingredients — not just the little green ones that
have historically stolen the spotlight. In 2020, expect more American farmers to increase
their malt production, and prepare for the arrival of new maltsters who cater specifically to

Alternate beverages came to the fore.
Breweries brewing only beer is a thing of the past. These days the cool kid taprooms fill
their taps with excellent beer alongside bubbly hard seltzers, craft coffee beans, fruity
kombucha flavors, and most likely, a few non-alcoholic or low-cal drinking options.

We’re just on the cusp of the hard seltzer boom and we expect to see it continue to stay
front of mind for those in the brewing industry. Expect ore unique and well-made products
from local craft breweries..

Fresh hop beers proliferate.
Its true that good, well-made hoppy beers have a way of communicating freshness. It’s
also true that U.S. hop acreage has increased almost 80% since 2012, and production by
77%. That means greater direct access to hops for breweries, which allows fast-working
brewers to produce more fresh hop beers.

Lactose went big time.
Many expected 2019 to bring lactose brewing  to a swift and milky death, The reverse
happened.  We are seeing it featured in beers now more than ever before. It seems that
it tends to work best when it complements milder fruit flavors in a sour or plays a
background note in a stout or smooths out a juicy IPA.  

Rosé beer makes the scene
This past year saw brewers just beginning to start down the rosé road. Quite a few have
made their own takes on the pink wine–and most have seemed like an easy way to get
your friend who only drinks hefes to have one more variety to choose from–but, luckily as
rosé has gone from a trend to a stalwart on the shelves.

Tasting rooms at breweries grew and prospered  in 2019
Many a small new brewery gets a majority of their sales from their tasting room. In fact
tasting room has kept many craft breweries afloat and will continue to do so.  Consumers
became accustomed to visiting and going to a local brewery for a beer became an in
thing to do.  No mystery - the beer is as fresh as you'll ever get.

Lager popularity grew but not as much as expected.
Every year so called experts predict that lagers will begin to dominate the craft scene and
every year they are proven wrong.  This year was no exception though lager sales,
especially on draft, grew. Maybe people new to craft beer need alternatives to those
great double dry-hopped brews as more and more craft enthusiasts appreciate the style.

Hazy IPAs, Stouts, and Sours continue leading the pack
While 2016, 2017, 2018 and even 2019 were dominated by the hazy IPA, two more styles
have joined the party. The IPA hasn’t gone anywhere, but consumer tastes have shifted
to accommodate sweet sours and rich stouts. The industry has taken notice.

Needless to say IPAs still rule the roost and will continue to do so.  At the end of 2019   
one out of every four beers sold was and IPA.  Long live the King. - SPECIAL REPORT
A look Back at 2019
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