With the thriving locavore and green movements, the estate beer concept is poised to grow in the coming years. Currently, it may be best described as an emerging trend; as of right now, just a handful of commercially available examples exist.
Brewers are sourcing local water and using hops and grains grown on the brewery property for more authentic and environmentally conscious beers. It’s the closest thing to terroir that beer has yet to exhibit. Selections like Sierra Nevada’s Estate Homegrown Ale and Rogue’s cheeky line of Chatoe Rogue offerings—Dirtoir Black Lager, OREgasmic Ale and Single Malt Ale—offer unique aroma and flavor profiles that speak to their origins.
Forget about picking up a six-pack of something without knowing what it is or if you’re going to like it. Retailers across the country are adding tap bars, allowing patrons to sample beers on draft before filling up a growler to take home.
The concept promotes recycling, thanks to the refillable growler (the standard size is typically 32 or 64 ounces). It also encourages people to sample beers in a setting where sales associates can educate consumers about the style of beer and the brewery, and offer food-pairing advice.
Drugstore chain Duane Reade offers Brew York City Growler Bars in New York City at locations on the Upper West Side and in Brooklyn, while national retailer Total Wine & More has several locations already equipped with tap bars and plans to expand. You can also fill up growlers when visiting your favorite local brewery.
Although collaborations aren’t new to the beer world, they have increased in number over the past five years. There’s a sense of camaraderie in the brewing industry, and many brew masters believe that a success for one is a success for all. Brewers are sharing ideas and working together to create special limited-edition beers that are often the result of friendly visits or hang-out sessions.
Many domestic craft brewers have even taken the concept international, working with brewing superstars in places like Scotland, Italy and New Zealand. Given the novelty of these selections and the elite participants, these beers are always worth trying.
The IPA ”Rainbow”
The IPA (India Pale Ale) craze continues as we work through an array of colors—or, at least, white, black and red. The most recent trend in IPAs, and an indication of the brewing industry’s playful creativity, is the hybridization of styles.
Although regular IPAs are still popular, many brewers are looking to kick things up by mixing the intense hop profile of an IPA with another style or different approach, like a Belgian-style wheat or an ale based on a medium- to heavy-roasted malt core.
The results are the new colors of IPAs available today, specifically Black IPA (also called Cascadian dark ale or American black ale), White IPA and Red IPA. Expect brewers to start experimenting with other beer categories and styles to produce more innovative hybrids.
Whoever still believes that cans only contain lowquality beer hasn’t been paying attention to all the aluminum on beer shelves today.
Oskar Blues (and its Dale’s Pale Ale) has led the beer-can revolution since 2002, when it became the first U.S. microbrewery to release its selections exclusively in aluminum cans. Other brewers––like 21st Amendment Brewery, Avery Brewing Company, Maui Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Company––have followed suit, offering some of their top beers in cans.
Compared to bottles, canning is a more environmentally friendly form of packaging, thanks to its lighter shipping weight that reduces its carbon footprint. It also keeps the beer fresher, ensuring that the contents aren’t damaged by exposure to light or air.
Many brewery owners and brew masters are taking their goods on the road and partnering with restaurants to create unique events that pair beer and food. Menus are created in tandem with the restaurant’s chef to showcase exclusive or limited-edition beers. A brewery representative is also often on hand to provide insight into the beers and proper pairings. These evenings encourage attendees to rethink any preconceived notions about beer’s place at the table.
Check the Web sites of your favorite craft breweries to see where they'll be next, or ask local restaurants if they have any events planned.