US Craft Beer Trends – 2010

Posted on December 31, 2009

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Being an analyst I’m always looking to see what the next trend will be, whether in wine, beer or financial data. Thankfully nobody uses my trends in the financial markets to invest with. These are some of my picks for trends that we will see in the coming years, whether it picks up in 2010 or 2011.

1. TWITTER IS GOOD BUSINESS

Being a late starter with TWITTER it has taken me several months to understand the benefits that it can provide to restaurants, bars and breweries. Twitter is used on news broadcasts and CNN takes quotes directly from TWITTER. Twitter is making life easier for businesses to get a quick message out to a group of people who then re-tweet that news to others in their list, or through Facebook.

Twitter will be the big thing for breweries in 2010 and beyond, more so than Facebook. Most of my friends on Facebook don’t care about my BEER talk, or beer festivals, as I don’t particularly care about some of their broadcasts.

Twitter can be fan specific, and it can take a business less than a minute to tell people the SOUP of the day, or when a beer is tapped out. Some bars & breweries that use Twitter to their advantage are; Baileys Tap Room Portland, Brouwers Cafe Seattle, Boundary Bay WA, Uber Tavern Seattle, Stone Brewery San Diego, Thirsty Monk NC.

2. Wine & Bourbon Barrels

One of the most unique beers you can buy in the US right now is the bourbon barrel aged beers, and the beer stored in wine barrels. American whiskey is called Bourbon and it uses American Oak that can only be used once. After that the barrel is useless to the Bourbon maker and the barrels can be used in beer production. Goose Island Bourbon barrel aged was one of my first introductions to this style, and I have been fan since this time. In Denver this year one of the big trends I saw was many brewers had a version of Bourbon Barrel Stout, or Porter. Though not all bourbon barrels work, they are definitely creating their own style of beer that unique and very cool.  Could these beers be aged in the bottle ?
California produces a lot of beer and a lot of wine. Seeing more ales that are stored in spent wine barrels is something that I think will work its way onto the scene. Brewers like Avery are starting to play around with Wine barrels, and others will as well.

3. CANS

Yes beer can taste great in can. Not all beer in a can is Lucky Lager, Coors & Pabst. Those lucky enough to have Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy in the can are with me when I say that it no way effects the flavor of the beer. With more beer looking to be transported between the East Coast/West Coast and now Europe, the space and weight of beer in cans will make a lot more sense to more breweries. Cost of shipping in terms of weight, storage and how much fit into a container. Think of the wasted space of a bottle.

When drinking craft beer we always tip the bottle or can into a glass anyway. 21st Amendment, Matts Brewing, Oskar Blues, Central City Brewing, all use cans for their beers and the trend will continue in the next 2 years. Likely choices would be Can or Bottle?  Everyone resisted the Stelvin Wine cap when they were first introduced.

4. Belgian Beers

Beer is going back to the roots of European beers with an American twist.  One of my favorite American brewers currently is New Belgium for their sour beers, and Cascade was favorite in the latest Portland Winter Ale Fest for their fruit beer. Developing Lambics and wild yeast doubles and triples are what is going to be more common. Belgium beer is what I first started with, then I went over to the hoppy IPA’s of the west coast, and now I’m moving back to the Doubles and Lambics. These styles of beer are what brewers have fun making, and these can be cellared and stored in barrels. Look for more seasonal style Belgian varieties.

5. Estate HOPS

As previously written about, I think there will be more emphasis on regional hops, whether grown onsite, or in a location that gives it some ‘differentiation’ from the next brewer. Similar to the great names on brewery beers, we will see HOPS with distinctive location themes. Whether it be Czech Hops for Pilsner, or Yakima Grown Lager.

6. Bottle Conditioned Beer

Without doubt the major area that American brewers can create a following is by producing a beer that is released annually, with a limited number, and the beer can be cellared like a fine wine. There is a close affiliation with Wine and Beer buffs who will pay whatever it takes to attain a certain certain beer. Barley Wine Beers are the best type of ales to sit down and cellar, and these the ones that Restaurants should carry in their cellar along with wines.

7. Brewer Collaboration

It has started with the likes of Sierra and Dogfish, Stone and Brewdog in Scotland, Left Hand and Terrapin. One of the best beers of the year for me was the Coffee and Milk Stout of Left & Terrapin. The Limb & Life tastings that have occurred over the country have been another example of people wanting to taste unique creations by well known brewers. The Europeans are desperate for more American Style beers and we’ll likely see a move of brewers from Europe in North America.

The next couple years will be an exciting time for American Brewers, and hopefully the impact will help some states overturn their ridiculous laws of beer not being allow to cross state boundaries. This is wishful thinking as we know that certain states have rules setup to stop new entrants into already established markets.

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