Top 6 Beer Trends of 2015
As the American craft beer scene continues to grow, the endless choices on the shelf can complicate the otherwise simple pleasure of having a cold one. To help you wade through this sea of suds, we’ve highlighted the top beer stories of the year.
Let’s face it: India pale ales (IPAs) aren’t going away anytime soon. They remain the most popular style of craft beer, accounting for the highest number of entries at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Some of the most sought-after selections a beer geek could ask for are IPAs, like Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder and The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. The latest IPA trend—and there’s seemingly a new one every year—is the session IPA. These are lower octane than their traditional IPA brethren, meaning you can enjoy a few in one sitting. Because, really, who doesn’t want to enjoy more of a beer you love?
With the recent success of low-alcohol IPAs, more and more brewers are lowering the buzz power in lagers, kölschs and even light sours like Berliner weisse and gose. Drinkers are realizing that great flavor doesn’t have to be accompanied by high alcohol. You can knock back a few of these refreshing brews without suffering the next morning, making them perfect for warm weather.
Sour beers have been both traditional sweethearts (like Flanders oud bruins or Belgian lambics) and modern darlings of the craft-brewing scene (American wild ales). But an extreme tongue-tickling, mouth-puckering experience may not be for everyone. The answer: Brewers are turning to lightly soured styles and experimental hybrids to bring the funk to the masses. Styles like Berliner weisse and brett-spiked saisons or IPAs can bring a taste of the wild side to those who might favor a cleaner brew. Warning: Once you get that first vibrant, acidic hit, you may never turn back.
Craft brewers have embraced cans as a stable, secure, cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to glass bottles. Now, from canning innovator Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado comes the latest addition to metal mania: the Crowler, a growler-sized 32-ounce can that can be filled and sealed at your favorite taproom. Adopters are starting to pop up across the country, allowing customers to take home their favorite pour in conveniently sized and travel-friendly containers.
Playing with ingredients is a calling card of the American craft-brewing spirit, and the ingredients mixed into brewers’ worts are getting wackier by the day, with surprisingly good results. Chili peppers, offbeat produce, wild herbs, flowers, spices—the possibilities are endless. Some surprisingly good examples include Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout brewed with chilies, Fonta Flora Brewery’s Alpha vs. Beta Carotene Local Carrot IPA and Smuttynose’s Satchmo, an ale brewed with foraged black trumpet mushrooms and aged in red-wine barrels.
With the success of the American craft-beer market, it’s no surprise that craft-beer cultures are emerging in other countries. Artisanal breweries producing high-quality, distinct and flavorful selections are popping up in New World countries like Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. European countries like Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are now home to small breweries offering alternative styles and experimental beers. It affirms yet again that the demand for good beer is universal.
- 1Session IPAs
- 2Low ABV Love
- 3Slightly Sour
- 4Meet the "Crowler"
- 5Foodie Beers
- 6Craft Goes Abroad