Welcome to 2020, the first year of the future (or so I’ve been made to believe by countless sci-fi films). With 2019 totally behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead and wondering just what exciting new things 2020 will bring us in the world of craft beer.
As you may have noticed, we do this every year. Last year we actually did pretty well with our predictions overall, so this year we’re hoping to do even better! Without further ado, here’s where craft beer is headed in 2020.
The Whiteclaw Effect
The drink that everyone was talking about in the summer of 2019 is not going anywhere. Expect Whiteclaw, and a myriad of other competitors, to break out even further with drinkers. Why? Because it’s light, fizzy, practically tasteless and will get you drunk without feeling awful about it.
So how does this impact craft beer? Brewers will look to emulate hard seltzer; that means low-abv, light flavour, low-calorie. These are trends that were already taking hold in the industry but expect to see them amplified due to Whiteclaw, and marketed in a similar fashion.
Reverse Whiteclaw Effect
Where there’s a push, there’s also a pull. Some breweries will go against the grain and fight back. This means the other extreme end of the spectrum with big, bold beers. Think heavy double dry hopped IPAs, Imperial pastry stouts, etc. These will be the beers that no-one asked for, but a lot of people will buy.
Slow Death of Hazy IPA
Hazy IPA has been a significant trend in the industry for several years now. As far as trends go, it’s actually outlived many other similar trends, but its day in the sun is coming to an end. To be clear, we’re not predicting that Hazy IPAs die off completely, but rather that they start seeing less and less importance on shelves and taps. Hazy’s will make room for more diversity and whatever other hot new style enters the scene.
2020 Finally Spotlights the Gueuze
We made a prediction way back in 2018 that Gueuze would finally become a mainstream trend, something that never happened (unfortunately). However, since that time we’ve seen more emphasis on variations on sour categories, lighter abv and a return to more traditional styles. So we’re going out on a limb once more and saying that Gueuze will finally get the interest it deserves in 2020.
Rise of Rotbier
Ok this may be the most far reaching prediction of the bunch. Rotbier is fairly unknown outside of areas of Bavaria, but it has qualities that are worth considering. First it’s a bottom fermented beer that is aged in wooden barrels, meaning the final product has a nice red hue and drinks incredibly smooth with a long lasting head. There is some funk, but not overwhelmingly so, and it’s not a heavy drinking beer. Lots to like about this style, and just to reinforce its coming emergence the category was recently added to the Great American Beer Festival competitive judging roster.
There are a lot of elements working against craft beer in 2020. A market that arguably is oversaturated, changing drinking preferences, a potential economic downturn and a younger generation statistically drinking less. It’s not a prediction we are happy to make, but closures are coming and it will make an impact on the broader industry at large.