This Year In Beer
by Sylvia Gonzalez
Craft Beer trends to look for in 2016
Hard” soda flavored beers – Not Your Father’s Root Beer was just the beginning. As
consumers have rushed to embrace ‘hard’ root beer, brewers have taken note and begun to
expand their offerings. We can debate all day whether these drinks are actually craft beer, but
there’s no arguing that it’s a trend that’s not slowing down
Nitro-mania – Samuel Adams hopes to lead the charge to popularize a new style of carbonation
in 2016 with its series of nitrogen-carbonated beers – a white ale, an IPA and a coffee stout.
But it won’t be alone. Guinness, whose stout is arguably the leader in nitro beers, will continue
to promote its nitro-IPA, which it released last year. And Left Hand Brewing’s recent expansion
of its nitro offerings
Craft Cider – Like hard root beer, there’s an argument to be made that hard cider isn’t beer. (It
is, in fact, closer to a wine.) But it’s a fast growing area in the craft world – and even a few
brewers are looking into ways to incorporate it into their wheelhouse.What’s more likely,
though, is small cideries will start to turn heads by offering a variety of styles.
Crowlers – Canned beers are already hot – and that trend could begin to carry over to more
growler stations this year. Rather than storing 32 or 64 ounces of beer in a glass container that
lets light in and has a short shelf life, some shops are switching over to one-time use jumbo
cans that allow buyers to store them for a longer time. It’s quick, and convenient – and it gives
growler fill stations a chance to earn a bit more per fill.
More Mergers – 2015 saw a fair bit of consolidation in the craft world. And it doesn’t look to be
slowing down. Anheuser-Busch Inbev certainly signaled this during the holidays, buying three
craft brewers in five days – the U.K.’s Camden Town Brewery, Arizona’s Four Peaks Brewing
and Colorado’s Breckinridge Brewery, the nation’s 50th largest craft brewer. Expect
MolsonMillerCoors to start playing catch up once the AB Inbev-SAB Miller deal is done. And
look for more craft brewers to band together as well.
Dry-Hopped Everything - Not just for IPA’s, Session IPA’s, or even Black IPA’s anymore. Expect
to see citrusy, floral or s picy aromatics pop up in the noses of nearly every beer style, from
sours to stouts.
Subtly Sour - In 2016, sour or funky will come into play but more subtly than ever before.
Brewers are creating beers with a side of acidity, or a whisper of farmhouse funk. Look for
more subdued traditional styles like Gose, Berliner Weisse or earthy Farmhouse Ales, and
popular brews like Imperial Stouts and IPA’s spiked with a touch of souring bacteria or wild
Single-Malt Beers - This year expect specialty malts to get the same star treatment as hops—
beers will be brewed with the same base malt but just one specialty malt to showcase that malt’
s contribution to the ale’s colour, aroma and body.
Limited Release Beers - Limited release bottles cause lineups and havoc on their release
days. In 2016 we will see more and more bottle frenzies for special or rare releases as demand
rises. Is it just hype or is the beer worth it? Doesn't really matter as long as it sells.
Return to Lagers - Eschewed by craft brewers initially due to the long fermentation times and
added expense and difficulty to produce, plus the public’s general lager fatigue, there is a thirst
for crisp, clean light-bodied lagers once again. This year we’ll see more small-batch lagers–
and more experimentation in this category–than ever before.
Fine Dining with Beer - Some of the world’s best restaurants are embracing beer as the perfect
partner to food. Styles like Belgian farmhouse ales offer sparkling bubbles and a dry finish that
will sync with any fancy dish.
Session Time - More and more breweries are lowering the buzz factor on just about every
beer style. Look for a return to traditional low-ABV styles like English Milds, Berliner Weisse’s
and Schwarzbiers, and the word “session” attached as the new “it” modifier, attached to nearly
every beer style from Stouts to IPA’s.
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