More barrel-aging? Continued session domination? When we want to know what’s coming down the pipes (literally) in 2016, we turn to the breweries, cidermakers and industry leaders themselves. They share what they see on the horizon next year, both the serious and, maybe, not so serious.
“Small and independent brewers are going to have another year of robust growth. We anticipate a busy 2016, filled with more localization of craft beer and opportunities in the marketplace. Craft lovers will demand more beers from their favorite brewers, resulting in more sessionable options, as well as overall continued growth via brewery openings, increased market share and marketplace opportunities—think channels like convenience [stores], continued penetration of stadiums, etc.”
–Bob Pease, president, Brewers Association
“2016 is going to be a year with a great deal of introspection and review for the beer industry. A proposed global combination of the number one and number two players means the industry is going to get a tremendous amount of scrutiny by antitrust and regulatory officials. Locally brewed beer is going to continue to grow as a result of America’s open and independent distribution system and state laws that maintain a level playing field and market access for all industry participants.”
–Craig Purser, president and CEO, National Beer Wholesalers Association
“I think we’ll continue to see a trend toward niche breweries specializing in particular styles and/or techniques. The days of new breweries trying to be every-thing to everyone may be either numbered or becoming less common. For instance, in Austin, Blue Owl Brewing Co. opened making exclusively sour mashed beers. In Denver, there are breweries like Hogshead and Prost specializing in English and German styles, respectively. There are, of course, plenty of examples of breweries focusing solely on mixed culture fermentation (ourselves included).”
–Jeffrey Stuffings, founder, Jester King Brewery
“I won’t delve too far in on mergers and acquisitions. I think that’s a trend that is only going to grow, for better and for worse. Folks should be able to do what they choose with their business. We may not always agree with their decisions, but they darn sure have a right to make them.”
–Trevor Rogers, co-owner/founder, de Garde Brewing
“Dry, dry, dry! More people drinking dry cider and more people making truly dry cider.”
–Brent Miles, head cidermaker, Seattle Cider Co.
“I predict that the next big thing in craft beer will be toys and prizes inside bottles, like a cereal or Cracker Jack box. We’re already developing a collectible set of brewer action figures—the gang is stoked!”
–Doug Dayhoff, president, Upland Brewing Co.
“I think people are going to continue to explore sour beers. I perceive a huge opportunity there, not so much in the classical sense, but with the ability to blend and add different flavoring components—spices, fruits, vegetables.”
–Gary Fish, founder and CEO, Deschutes Brewery
“A few words to describe where I think consumers will be going: ‘drinkability’ and ‘balance.’ 100 IBUs just to say you did it won’t be enough anymore. People are gravitating to beers that are well balanced—malt, hops and alcohol complementing each other on the palate, not competing.
–Joe Bisacca, CEO, Elysian Brewing Co.
“I think you’ll see session IPA overtake IPA as the largest-selling category. And I’d love to see a resurgence for amber ales. Fifteen years ago, they were the most popular craft style, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see people return to them.”
–Dave Engbers, co-founder, Founders Brewing Co.
“We may see the rise of the super hoppy (read as aromatic) but balanced and soft pale ale. Sours and funky beers will continue to increase by volume and diversity. And there will be fruit!”
–Adam Beauchamp, brewmaster, Creature Comforts Brewing Co.