With 2021 in our rearview mirror it’s time to turn our attention to 2022 and what we can expect from the year ahead. As with previous years, we’re peering into our crystal ball and predicting some trends from the craft beer industry this year. We’d like to think that we’re pretty good at this, with last year’s predictions all coming true in one form or another.
So what will 2022 bring for craft beer? Overall it’s going to be a mixed bag; but one thing has always remained true: the craft beer industry is resilient, and brewers faced with even the toughest challenges have found ways to come out on top in the end.
Traditional styles make a resurgence (especially English Mild)
In 2020-2021 the industry saw a strong resurgence of the demand for craft lager. This brought about a new change where breweries weren’t just pumping out IPAs but also had to think about their lager game. In 2022, we expect things to continue to shift towards other classic styles like English Mild, and have breweries think long and hard about the diversity of their offerings rather than just being the go-to hazy IPA house.
Supply chain issues force a change
2021 taught us a hard lesson: our global supply chain is fragile. It’s very likely we continue to see supply chain disruptions all throughout 2022, and that uncertainty is going to force brewers to think differently about their production process. Everything from hops production to canning supplies is going to be affected, so expect to see breweries finding new ways of sourcing materials and altering recipes to fit with the new normal. With all this change it also means that…
Beer prices are going to rise
Yep, there’s no way around it, so better get used to it now. Everything is more expensive, which means producing your favourite beer is more expensive, and you can’t expect breweries that have just managed to survive two years of a pandemic to eat those costs. Supporting craft beer is going to be more expensive than ever, and only a few breweries will be large enough to be able to minimize price increases–and arguably that means supporting the smaller ones will be even more important, despite the price increases. This too will have a compound effect…
Consumers are going to be more selective
Naturally, increased pricing means consumers just aren’t going to have the spending power to experiment with labels and beer they aren’t familiar with. So we’ll start to see a much stronger brand loyalty to craft beer than we have before. Consumers will put their money into breweries they know and love, not only because they only have so much to spend, but they also want to support those breweries and ensure they don’t go under. It also means that breweries are likely to become more of a destination, a night out, than just a distribution hub. Drinkers are going to want to be part of the whole experience, spend time at the brewery, build a bond, buy more beer, etc. Good news for those brands that already have an established community, bad for those looking to break into the market.
2022 will be the year of the “collaboration beer”
So how then does a brand earn a new drinker’s interest? In 2022, it’ll be through collaborations. Brands that band together to make something great will both benefit; a loyal drinker for either label will have the chance of being exposed to a brand they may not have known, or weren’t very familiar with, and if they like it they could become a new consumer. It’s a win-win scenario, and one that allows brewers to share costs and experiment outside of their traditional offerings. Expect major collaborations this year.