There are four primary ingredients for beer – water, hops, yeast and grain/malt. Of those, hops, yeast and grain get a lot of attention. Water seems to take a backseat. It’s just a carrier for the rest of the ingredients, right? Wrong. Actually, water is just as vital to the ultimate character of the beer in question as anything else.
Craft breweries across the country are growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, while Big Beer continues to see a shrinking market share year over year, craft beer continues to grow. It’s only natural that in order to cash in on this trend, big breweries are doing whatever they can. These efforts range from the creation of “craft-like” brands, such as Shock Top and Blue Moon, to the acquisition of actual craft breweries. Buying up craft brands has become incredibly popular, actually and with no Big Beer company more than Budweiser.
Once upon a time, fruit and beer were distinctly different. You chose your beer based on your preferred style – IPA, stout, porter, pale ale, etc., and then based on the strength that you wanted, followed by other tangential things like the hops used in the brewing process. Today, you have those options, but more and more breweries are jumping on the fruit-flavored wagon, as well.
The American craft beer scene changes pretty regularly, driven by drinkers’ tastes as much (or more) than brewer innovation and experimentation. Styles like ultra-hoppy IPAs and high-gravity beers are always popular with some drinkers, but mass appeal waxes and wanes. Currently, one of the most widespread trends is toward low ABV, lower hop session beers. And that might be a bad thing, particularly for craft breweries.
For a very long time now, the beer industry has been male dominated. That’s apparent everywhere you look, from the staff at most older beer brands, to the advertising they put out. Sex sells, and the beer industry has taken full advantage of that for a very long time, marketing their products in conjunction with scantily clad women, and tongue-in-cheek advertising jargon. The craft beer industry, while dedicated to being different from Big Beer, has also failed to avoid the same pitfall.
Craft beer drinkers face a number of challenges, but one of the most pressing questions is often whether or not they should cellar a particular beer. While it’s true that a little aging can often have profoundly positive effects on your libations, that’s not always the case. In some instances, cellaring will lead to oxidation and ultimately, un-tasty beer. In fact, some beers really aren’t designed to be cellared at all and the brewer actually wants you to drink it fresh.
The craft beer sector has seen incredible changes in the last few years. In 2017, it’s finally grown to account for more than 10% of the US beer industry as a whole for the first time in history. Couple that with the ever-growing number of craft breweries, brew pubs and other related businesses opening across the country and the future looks very bright, despite the inevitable slowdown of overall segment growth. With that being said, there are quite a few factors that will affect the craft beer industry throughout the rest of this year. Let’s take a look at some of the most important.
Beer drinkers know that the ABV (alcohol by volume) of a beer will determine quite a few things. It’ll tell you how many beers of the same ABV you can have before getting sloshed. It can tell you whether or not you might expect some booziness in the taste of the beer. It can also tell you whether the brewer was following a traditional recipe or shooting for an imperial version of a particular beer style.
When you think about beer ingredients, chances are good that you can come up with the classic four. Every beer needs some combination of water, yeast, hops and malt. Otherwise, it’s not beer. If you follow the dictates of the German beer purity law (the Reinheitsgebot), then that’s probably the end of it for you. However, craft brewers are more and more frequently going beyond the pale in terms of what they’re adding to beer, and it results in some interesting, and often delicious, results.
2016 was a big year for craft beer in many ways, from an increasing number of buyouts by Big Beer to the ongoing growth of the industry and even more craft breweries operating in every state of the nation. We’ve seen the rise of interesting new beer styles (New England IPA, anyone?) and more. Where will the industry be heading in 2017, though? Actually, there are quite a few trends emerging that will dominate the year for craft breweries large and small. Below, we’ll look at some of the most important for you to know.