Craft Beer Trends 2018

Craft Beer Trends 2018

It’s important to stay ahead in the beer industry, and with the year wrapping up, most brewers are looking forward towards 2018. Breweries are trying to figure out what trends to watch for next year, and since the craft beer market is ever changing, staying ahead of what will be in demand is essential. While the market does move quickly, let’s look at some of the trends you can expect to see in 2018.

Local Style

Breweries both large and small are really embracing the local style and culture in which people consume their beer. This means both catering to a lifestyle, while using local ingredients.

We have clearly seen a recent trend with local styles, with the New England IPA being ever so popular, but it’s a safe bet there will be more beers catered to a specific local crowd. Firestone Walker brews a Blonde Ale that they fittingly named 805, am homage to the local area code. They say the beer was created to reflect the laid-back California lifestyle, and it’s a beer that Firestone Walker only distributes to California, keeping true to the local theme.

Fort Point Beer Company, out of San Francisco, also keeps it local with the Manzanita: a Smoked Altbier brewed with charred manzanita, a local shrub. The beer gives a nod to the local California wilderness and features a label designed by a local artist in San Francisco.

Expect to see more breweries keeping things local in 2018, with both the beer styles they choose and utilizing locally sourced ingredients.

Breweries that Give Back

In a recent survey, 75% of millennials said it was important that companies they support give back to the local community and charities. That in turn gravitates them towards companies that have established programs that benefit the community with their profits.

Recently, BrewBound handed out their industry awards, with Creature Comforts, from Athens, Georgia, taking home the award for ‘Cause of the Year,’ a sign that giving back will be essential in moving businesses forward in 2018. Creature Comforts launched their ‘Get Comfortable Campaign’ with a mission to help end poverty, hunger and homelessness in their local community, and they donated more than $100,000 in value in 2017.

It’s safe to assume that 2018 will see more people drinking for a cause. From fundraising events at the brewery, to a donation for every pint sold, breweries giving back will be a trend to watch in the new year.

Session Beer

Higher ABV beers have typically dominated the craft beer industry, and while that will remain consistent, expect to see an even bigger surge in session beers. The landscape of craft beer is constantly changing with the demand for a lower ABV having been created, and with a session being under 5%, making for an emerging trend in 2018.

Founders Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan, just announced that in 2018 they will be launching 6-pack cans of their ‘All Day IPA,’ a session beer coming in at 4.7%. Expect to see similar beers surge, and for more breweries to deliver a flavorful beer, that isn’t coming in too strong.

Canning

Currently canned beer only makes up a small portion of the distribution within the craft beer industry, but the market is beginning to see a shift from bottling to canning. Look for more breweries to make the change to canning in 2018. One reason is the recent surge in mobile canning lines, which allows for breweries that cannot afford their own lines to can and distribute their beer.

Canning allows an increased portability, beer that stays fresher longer, and allows breweries to really embrace the full design area of a can. With the ability to use the full can, it allows breweries more room for design and advertising.

So many breweries are ramping up their canning production in 2018, with Oskar BluesNight Shift Brewing, Founders Brewing and Westbrook Brewing, among many others, already embracing the canning trend.

Collaborations

We have seen a trend when it comes to brewery collaborations in the industry, with breweries travelling from across the country or even the world, coming together to produce a beer. While it’s anticipated that this trend will continue in 2018, expect collaborations to reach outside of the beer industry.

Columbus Brewing Company collaborated to develop a beer for the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer team. Anticipate more breweries working together with companies, celebrities and even chefs to develop custom brews. It’s a trend that has been seen in other alcoholic beverage industries, and it’s only a matter of time before it makes the leap to beer.

Palmetto Brewery and Cigar City are just two of the breweries that collaborated with rock band Hootie and the Blowfish for the aptly named, ‘Hootie’s Home Grown Ale.’ Expect collaborations to continue in 2018, but keep an eye out for how they evolve and change the way breweries market their beers.

Sour and Fruit Beers

Sour and fruit beers have really taken the market by storm over the past few years, but watch for even more in 2018. There are now quite a few breweries with a well-developed sour program. Cascade Brewing in Portland, Oregon, dedicates their craft to sour beers with many of them incorporating fruit – their Kriek beer alone uses 16,000 pounds of cherries. 2018 will breed more breweries who begin to develop a sour program and expect a lot of them to add fruit to that mix.

Jackie O’s Brewing in Athens, Ohio launched their sour program this past year. While they do have a variety of year-round beers, they decided to expand and create sour beers, launching 3 different sour styles. And they aren’t alone. With demand growing, breweries are dabbling into sour beers to keep up with the trend in the industry – more Gose’s, Berliner Weisse’s, and Lambic’s will be hitting the shelves in 2018.

The craft beer industry is constantly changing, with trends that come and go, but with planning and a little luck, breweries can prepare themselves for what the craft beer market demands. With the rate of craft beer still growing, but slowing down in pace, it will be crucial for breweries to recognize trends to help keep them ahead of the curve in the craft beer industry.