As we look ahead to 2015, locally and nationally, craft beer will only continue to grow. It’s inevitable that some craft breweries across the country will have to shut their doors, but there will be more breweries opening as well. More Bud, Miller, Coors, Labatt, and Molson drinkers will be converted to the craft side over the next year, and craft breweries will welcome them with what they’ve been doing for years now, as well as thriving on new trends to expand the landscape of craft beer. What are some of these trends you should be looking forward to in 2015?
- More Coffee – Craft beer geeks and coffee nerds are on the same wavelength. Oftentimes, they’re the same person. Deep interest and passion for a beverage that many people never even drink. While roasted barley can produce coffee like flavors and aromas in beer, the actual addition of coffee beans in the brewing process is becoming more commonplace, and will only increase in 2015. While it’s natural to add coffee to a stout, porter, or brown ale, look for coffee in different styles. Community Beer Works has been doing their Espresso Whale for over a year now, and Resurgence added coffee along with vanilla to a pumpkin ale this fall, coffee will show up more often in 2015. The emergence of “golden stouts” and coffee IPAs will meld the geekery of craft beer and coffee lovers alike.
- Gose and Berliner Weisse – Old German styles of beer that were nearly extinct, have discovered a newfound love from American craft brewers. A distinct tartness and a low ABV make these beers ideal warm weather thirst quenchers. While certain spots in the U.S. have embraced the style more than others, look for a nationwide appreciation of the styles to take off later this year. Locally, Community Beer Works has produced a version of berliner weisse called Mr. Superfantastisch, but look for other options to emerge once the cold weather leaves town.
- Barrels Aren’t Just for Bourbon – The words “barrel aged” can make a beer geek’s ears pop up like a dog hearing the mailman approach. More often than not, barrel aged refers to bourbon barrels, in which stouts, barleywines, or other higher alcohol beers are aged. The vanilla, oak, bourbon flavor that these barrels can impart on a beer can make some ordinary beers into complex works of art. While wine barrels are often extensively used, look for more beers to be aged in rum, tequila, or like Hamburg Brewing Company’s anniversary beer, Three Sixty Five, port barrels to be used more often.
- Increased Lagering – The vast majority of American craft beers being brewed are ales. Some breweries like Jack’s Abby in Framingham, Massachusetts have embraced lager though with outstanding results. While sometimes lagers are generically associated with the tasteless, yellow, fizzy light beers of Bud, Miller, Coors, a well made pilsner is a real treat, and something that should be appreciated by craft beer lovers. With Flying Bison and Old First Ward Brewing already taking the lead locally, look for more pilsners, dopplebocks, schwarzbiers, and other lagers in 2015.
- George Likes his Beer Spicy - Chili peppers being added to craft beers isn’t a novel idea, but the trend will increase in 2015. The spicy additions to imperial stouts like Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout, Westbrook Mexican Cake, and Perennial Artisan Ales Abraxas have made these beers some of the most coveted bottles throughout the United States. San Diego based Ballast Point has also done extensive chili pepper brewing, including spicing up IPAs and porters, and Rogue Brewing has even released their Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. In 2015, look for more widespread use of chili peppers by more breweries across the country.
Here’s to another great year of craft beer in 2015!