The beer industry is a changeable one.
At different points, pine, bitterness, citrus, grapefruit pith, and caramel were all hallmarks of a fantastic, trendy IPA. Something like Surly Furious. But recently, it is safe to say the haze craze has solidified into a bona fide foundation to build a brewery on.
Sour beers, especially fruited ones, have anchored many a brewery. The amalgamation of hoppy, hazy, fruity, and sour beers has resulted in sour IPAs, and even milkshake IPAs.
The dry brut IPA seems to be holding on to its popularity for now, but will no doubt go the way of the black IPA. But what’s next?
Back to basics
Co-founder of Little Thistle and all-around beer maestro Dawn Finnie sees a shift to simpler times coming in 2019.
“I see the pilsner, lager, clean, crisp, beers continuing,” she said. “Low-alcohol, full-flavor, crushable beers. And best of all, I see saisons – sour, bottle-conditioned, fruited, farmhouse, Belgian, French, whatever. There are so many different ways to be creative with them.”
I agree. Forager Brewing Co. has been crafting saisons akin to Jester King Brewery’s in Texas. Forager’s are lower ABV, and mostly aged in white wine or red wine barrels. They’ll release a fruited series soon. The style offers something to please the sour fans, but also wine lovers.
And lagers continue to relieve those with palate fatigue, thanks to pastry stouts and hoppy beers that pack a wallop. Minnesota is lucky to have Fair State and Summit on top of the lager game (and New Glarus across state lines), but it seems more and more breweries are exploring the simple drinkability of a no-fuss beer.
A look around
Chicago now has more breweries than any other metro area. Maybe because of that, it has the best IPAs in the Midwest – the fruity, hazy, pillowy mouthfeel variety. It is worth keeping an eye on the market and just diving into what is already there.
The slightly nascent Milwaukee market has Eagle Park Brewing Co., which is probably the best hazy IPA crafter outside of Chicagoland. These places are really going to mature this year and are worth noting.
On a more dire note, we will likely see some closures – maybe more than ever. More and more places are closing down, or halting expansion projects, like Deschutes Brewery’s east coast plans that have been delayed. There won’t be a major shakeout, but as palates get better, bad beer will begin to be left at the curb. Plus, regional breweries are finding it harder to sell beer when more local places are popping up.
Keeping it local
Rochester will grow even more as a beer destination with Thesis Beer Project and continue to mature. I expect to see more barrel-aged releases, and maybe more gimmicky beer to arrive.
Craft beer should continue to thrive. And who knows, maybe we will see the arrival of an entirely new style or concoction.