2016 Is The Year of Weird Craft Beer

Photo Credit: TravelJunction on Flickr

2015 is behind us, and those that thought there would be a slow down when it came to the craft beer industry have to now swallow their pride and admit the end is not yet in sight. While we are coming VERY close to a saturation point, particularly in BC, I don’t see a slow down soon, but what I do see is an evolution. This evolution is going to make craft beer better in the long run, even with a few bumps in the road.

Let it be heard: 2016 will be the year of some weird beer.

What do I mean when I say weird? I mean that as competition grows, brewers are going to have to stand out, and that means taking some risks with recipes and seeing what sticks. Many local brewers are already comfortable taking those risks and understand there is a dedicated following that is willing to take it with them. That following will grow, and grow exponentially this year.

Think of the successful experiments seen in 2015. Storm released the insanely expensive Glacial Mammoth Extinction; Four Winds saw a crazy line up for their release of Edna; Driftwood’s Satori Harvest practically flew off shelves and Strange Fellows basically banked their entire operation on the demand of sour beer.

So what does that mean for 2016? Here are five predictions:

  1. So Many Seasonals: I’ll be honest, my beer fridge is basically 80% seasonal releases at this point, and has been for sometime. Limited seasonal releases give the brewers the ability to test out new batches at a small scale risk while at the same time allowing for an air of mystique and demand for these limited batches. Expect a TON of seasonal or limited series releases this year.
  2. Pucker Up for the Sour: I predicted at the start of 2014 that sour beer was coming to overtake our taps, while it’s taken longer than I anticipated, I think 2016 is the year. Sour beers are ready to hit the streets, with many local breweries having sat on aging barrels for at least a year at this point. Come spring, expect plenty of local breweries to hit the streets with some form of sour.
  3. Barrel Aging is the New Norm: Brewers are beginning to barrel age everything, from traditional IPA’s to Pumpkin Ales. Expect that to continue as craft beer drinkers look for more robust flavours in their beer.
  4. Infusions Galore: Beer just isn’t beer anymore if it doesn’t have some sort of creative twist on it. Tofino’s been consistently pushing out their kelp stout for ages now, and Dead Frog has done a Peanut Butter Stour, other brewers are jumping on board and finding new ingredients to add to their beers to make them 100% unique. Think things like pine needle, flowers, dried fruits, etc.
  5. Some Will Be Bad: Look not everything is going to stick, some brewers will create something so outrageous that even the most dedicated beer drinker won’t be able to handle. That’s not a bad thing; the more experiments made, the more likely we’ll see some exceptional beers rise to the top. So I’ll take the good with the bad.

Overall, 2016 is going to be a very good year for craft beer. It’s not ok to just have a “craft” brewery anymore; now you need to have a craft brewery that makes great beer. And that means everyone wins.