Beer is big business in Canada. Over the last few years hundreds of craft breweries are now in operation, and consumers are demanding more and more from them.
As the industry continues to evolve, there are some trends to watch out for. We’ve pulled together a list of what we think consumers can expect from the Canadian beer industry in 2019. Last year’s predictions were pretty good, we ended up with a solid 4.5/7, so fingers crossed our track record holds up for this year.
The craft beer market is starting to look saturated. There are less breweries opening in major cities and more finding opportunities in rural areas. As breweries continue to grow and expand there are really only three major paths for scale: continue to build larger and larger facilities, merge with competing brands, or sell. This is a natural evolution of the industry, and we’ve seen relatively few sales and acquisitions in the market compared to the number of breweries available.
That being said, there is so much consumer choice there is also the risk of closure. Expect to see the unfortunate side effect of brewery closures as the pressure gets applied.
This is a style that hasn’t yet taken off in Canada but has had a few years in the States already. Blending together the tartness of a sour beer with the hop profile of an IPA is a nice middle ground between the two styles. It’s also a great jumping off point for drinkers that enjoy IPAs but haven’t had a chance to dive into sour beer yet. Plus there’s lots of room for experimentation; take for example a sour NE IPA that is both tart and juicy at the same time!
Increased focus on yeast
Innovation in yeast is becoming a huge focus for craft beer. Yeast is the backbone for good craft beer, and recent experiments are leading to ideas like having yeast duplicate hops profiles and creating new flavours for craft beer. Expect brewers to look to new industry innovations, and their own in-house yeast experiments to create new beers and creative takes on traditional styles.
BC becomes the beer champion of Canada
In overall number of breweries Ontario still reigns supreme, but the reality is, over the last few years BC has made a run at Ontario for having the best breweries in the country. Annual award competitions have shown a narrowing gap between the two provinces, and expect 2019 to be the year that BC overtakes Ontario in award wins.
Kolsch gets the spotlight
Lagers and Pilsners are generally under appreciated in the market, but in 2018 we saw a big shift from craft breweries into lagers and the focus seems to have paid off. Expect brewers to continue this trend towards lager style beers and Kolsch lovers will finally get more options to choose from.
Beer alternatives boom
Craft beer has only so much room to grow, but there are other categories that are still relatively young compared to it. We’re talking ciders, canned cocktails, mead, etc. Expect to see brewers break into more categories and fight for market share. Canned cocktails especially saw a breakthrough year in 2018 and that’s only going to get bigger as more craft options become available. The days of Growers cider and Smirnoff Ice are over.