This is my list of things I think will happen in the new year. If you disagree or agree with me please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.
1. The continued rise of barrel-aged beer. This seems to be a huge hot button in the beer world right now, and many people are jumping on the bandwagon. The fact is that you can charge more for the beer, and you will sell it out, even if it's an inferior product. I look at the positives and the negatives here. Many brewers are not that skilled with a barrel yet. When a brewer does know what they are doing with a barrel, it is a thing of beauty. I think I will taste some really terrible barrel aged beer this year, but I think I will have the pleasure of tasting some really fantastic barrel aged beer as well. A few years of this trend should produce some downright amazing beer as more brewers gain a better experience with barrel aged beers.
2. The explosion of sour beer to a whole new level. I think there has always been a pretty good underground appreciation for sour beers from the likes of Russian River, Cantillon, Petrus, Drie Fonteinen, Trinity, Captain Lawrence, The Lost Abbey...etc.... I think you will see many more brewers jump into this arena this year. We already have two pretty outstanding producers of "sour" style beer in Indiana with Brugge Brasserie and Upland Brewing Company. One of my favorites is from Michigan and readily available here in Indiana from Jolly Pumpkin. The sour style category can encompass many beer styles that include Berliner weisse, Flanders red ale, Flanders brown ale, gueuze, and lambics. I am sure you can lump more in there, but those cover the majority of the sour beer categories.
3. More breweries, brewpubs, and nano-breweries up and running. I think there is still plenty of room for production beer shops to be in operation, but I just hope that they have a healthy dose of beer appreciation at heart and not just an entrepreneurial spirit because some think that beer is the "it" thing right now. The flip side is that I think several will shutter this year as well, but if you make a good product and price it right the business should do well.
4. More bars going to the 14 oz. shaker glass. This is the worst trend I am starting to see around the Indy beer market. I've seen several bars going to the 14 oz. shaker glass, but they are still pricing the beer at its original price or in some cases even increasing the price. The glass looks the same as a real 16 oz. pint glass, but it holds two ounces less. Consumers are not stupid, and one bar in town in particular has lost my business forever because of their newly purchased 14 oz. glasses that they continue to call and charge for a "pint" on their menu. I don't care if a bar uses those glasses, but have the common decency to let your patrons know what you are doing to them instead of trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Don't call it a pint on your menu and charge me for a pint, but only deliver 12 ounces of beer with head to my table. It won't be long until I start doing something like this around town.
5. The continued deviation of making separation points in the beer market. What I mean by this is the separation of the sexes. I got into beer because of the social aspect of it, but I've become a craft beer lover because it started from the social experience for me. I don't like seeing the rise of men vs. women craft beer circles. I am not just talking about groups here, but even breweries are starting to market directly to either men or women. I think we are losing a little piece of what makes beer so special, and that is getting together with friends over some great beer and having a good time. Can male and female only events occur? Absolutely. Should we also not forget the social aspects of our favorite libation? It's a joint mentality and not specifically a men vs. women thing.
6. I am not excited about this one either, but the $20 and up bottles of beer. I have seen this trending up for several years, but I think the $20 bomber of beer is here to stay given the success of Upland, Goose Island, Trinity, and several others this year. I am not opposed to paying for quality, but this is a very slippery slope.
Pipe dream wishes for 2011:
1. More great session beer in Indianapolis.
2. Hell's Black Intelligencer from Three Floyd's in six packs or any other lower ABV stout from them in six packs.
3. New Albanian's Beak's Best in six packs.
You know what they say about opinions right?