The craft beer scene continues to expand in Canada, and while it may not be “hip” anymore to be a craft beer drinker, it certainly isn’t going out of style. In fact, I’ve got some bold predictions as to where I think the industry is heading in the next year, and if any of these turn out to be true, then it’ll only be a good thing for craft beer drinkers.
Bring on the Gueuze
Chances are, even if you drink a lot of craft beer, you’ve likely haven’t tried a Gueuze (pronounced “gooz”). A Gueuze is a complicated lambic beer; spontaneously fermented and a blend of several different years of barrel-aged beer. This means that, at minimum, these beers take three years to make.
So why now? Many of the experimental Canadian breweries have had a few years to grow, and I guarantee you that at least one brewery has seen the stellar reputation of Gueuze across the pond and are interested in duplicating it locally.
More Session Ales
No I’m not referencing more of this site (although, we’re blogging a hell of a lot more). But rather the session ale style, which is lower in ABV and much easier to drink than a higher alcohol counterpart.
Let’s face it, while high ABV is a nice treat, session ales are the way to go for the majority of consumers. There’s a reason Bud Light remains one of the best selling beers globally, and it’s because it’s a beer you can drink many of during the course of a game or meal. Craft beer is playing catch up, and will target this market more aggressively this year.
Regional Styles Make a Splash
2017 was all about the Northeast IPA, or the Hazy IPA. I enjoyed it as much as the next craft beer drinker, with some of my favourite new beers coming out of the style. Expect to see more regional flavours and styles pour out into the market. Styles like Altbiers, dortmunders, kvass and more are going to be increasingly available, along with regional spins on traditional styles like stouts, lagers, pilsners and more.
Lagers are Taken More Seriously
As with the growing demand for session ales, there’s an increasing demand for lagers. Early on, a respectable craft brewer generally wouldn’t be caught dead brewing a lager, instead aiming to capture the more “sophisticated” drinkers palate with complex brews. But I expect that to shift; while brewers will still continue to develop more and more complex beer, lagers will become increasingly more acceptable for craft brewers, and drinkers, to partake in.
This has already made a small start in 2017, with beers like the Diablo Cookie Porter from Superflux and Four Winds, but expect this trend to pick up some serious steam in the next year. There’s something super interesting about a beer that is meant to taste like a popular food item, and as long as it isn’t a combination that is too extreme, consumers are bound to scoop up these brainstorms.
Think of combinations like Mexican Mole Stout, Basil/Lemongrass IPA or Raspberry Jam Cream Ales.
Botanicals Replace Hops
Let me start out by saying that hops aren’t going anywhere, but they aren’t the only herb in the forest. Old school brewing used to incorporate a wide variety of herb and botanicals before hops became the de facto standard for brewing. Brewers are starting to come back around and experiment with other botanicals like tree sap, kernza, elderflower, yerba mate, jasmine and more.
Does it sound weird? Sure. But remember, there are a number of health benefits to different botanicals, and they provide flavour profiles that you can’t reproduce elsewhere. Through experimentation we could end up with some truly spectacular beers.
Cans Become Fashionable Again
For the most part, it’s become an expectation that the most interesting craft beer is packaged in bomber style, or similar, glass bottles. Cans have been pushed to the side in favour of their glass cousins, but a resurgence in tall can limited releases and improved design is bringing the can back in style.
There are a number of benefits to seeing it swing back towards cans. They are easier to transport, package, recycle and stock on shelves and from a consumer standpoint, a can chills faster and can be more approachable for the average drinker who isn;t interested in opening an entire bomber bottle.