Last year, the “colors” of IPAs were a veritable rainbow. Playful brewers mixed the intense hop profiles of IPAs with other styles or approaches, like Belgian-style wheat beers or ales based on medium- to heavy-roasted malt cores. But the experimentation hasn’t stopped there. Brewers continue to blend beer styles and search out rare ingredients. The results? New beer categories, like Belgo-American styles and IPLs (India Pale Lagers), and brews that incorporate experimental hop varieties or exotic spices. There’s always something new to try in the craft beer world!
Beer Loves Wine
There’s a common saying that it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine, but now it seems the reverse is also true. Breweries are turning to the world of wine to produce new brews that bridge the gap between wine drinkers and beer drinkers. From wine grapes and must to yeast and used barrels, brewers have plenty of wine-derived options. Although this trend isn’t completely new—a few breweries have been playing with vinous goods for years (we’re looking at you, Russian River Brewing, Dogfish Head and Captain Lawrence)—more brands are testing the cross-category waters. Check out recent releases from Allagash, Avery, Firestone Walker, Odell, Stone, The Bruery, and more to see what all the fuss is about.
For the Love of Lagers
For a while, the beer-drinking world seemed divided. Either you knew what you liked and it was light and easy, or you embraced the extreme side of the craft beer culture and found everything else to be pedestrian or weak. Thankfully, we’ve now arrived at a middle ground, where appreciation and enjoyment can be found in a range of styles. Not everything has to be extreme to be good. Lagers often get a bad rap for being too light or weak, which may be true of some mass-produced selections. However, today’s craft breweries produce many fine examples that offer nuance, complexity and—wait for it—flavor.
The Can Revolution
It’s hard to ignore the increasing number of craft beers available in cans, but now, breweries are looking for ways to improve upon them. Samuel Adams recently launched its “Sam Can”—the result of two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing—which aims to approximate drinking beer from a glass. Sly Fox Brewing just put its Helles Golden Lager in a new “topless” can whose entire lid is removable. It’s the first brewery in North America to use the 360 End technology developed by Crown Holdings.
The Ladies Love Beer
Traditionally, beer has been viewed as a man’s drink. Despite a history of women brewers, the men in charge of England saw there was money to be made and drew up laws limiting women’s right to brew. Today, the craft-beer culture has helped to reverse centuries of discrimination. Not only are women becoming more interested in craft beer (see: the audience at the Great American Beer Festival, the number of female beer bloggers, the rise of women’s beer clubs), but they’re also becoming a larger part of the business. The Love of Beer, a recent documentary produced by Alison Grayson, offers an inspirational portrayal of women in the craft-beer industry.
Homebrewing is for Everyone
In 2012, there were more than 1 million American homebrewers, and that number is expected to climb. More Americans are becoming interested in do-it-yourself production and local sourcing, as well as artisanal craft beers and the creativity and artistic expression they represent. Now, for the first time since before Prohibition, homebrewing is legal in all 50 states. The federal government legalized homebrewing in 1979, but since the Constitution’s 21st Amendment predominantly leaves alcohol regulation to the states, each state has had to individually legislate homebrewing. In May, Alabama was the last state in the nation to legalize the hobby.
Cheers to homemade beer!