Beer trends 2016 – what’ll be hot, and what do I hope for – part 2

Recently an amusing blog popped up on biernetwerk.nl, a site I recommend you to follow. The writer posted his biggest grievances in a piece called ‘These 7 beer trends we’d rather see disappear in 2016’ – entertaining and instructive! Kim Lentjes predicted five beer trends for this year on her fine blog genietenmetbier.nl and Sligro’s Food Brigade recently listed their ‘Top Three beer trends for 2016’. Apparently you like lists and predictions, so I won’t disappoint you. In three blogs I’ll analyse these three lists and then I will post my list with what I believe will be hot, and what I hope for in 2016!

Karel van Broekhoven: zythologist and cellar master!

Karel van Broekhoven: zythologist and cellar master!

After looking at Kim’s predictions for 2015 it is now time to check out the outlook for 2016 as per Sligro Foodbrigade. My colleague Karel van Broekhoven helped them identify three big trends: English inspired low-alcohol, high-flavor beer; sour and geuze (spontaneous fermentation) and top-fermenting saison will all gain ground. Three remarkable predictions!

The trend of low-alcohol, high-flavor beers becoming more popular is definately there – I believe sessionable is hot. However fantastic oak aged barleywines, Russian Imperial Stouts or cherry-vanilla-rhubarb triple Imperial India Pale Ale on habañero pepper may be, after a glass or two you’re done.

A propper English pint

A propper English pint

The simplicity and sessionability of flavorfull beers – and yes, England is the cradle of these brews – is full-heartedly being rediscovered and revalued these days by consumers who appreciate a ‘gargantuan brew’ occasionally, but want to have a drink too. This trend has been smouldering for some years now (see for example the amount of session IPA’s that have popped up this year) world-wide, and I can totally see 2016 be the year of low-alcohol, full-flavor beer. I, for one, would cheer it loudly!

Black Label by Boon

Black Label by Boon

Could 2016 be the breakthrough year for sour or wild fermented geuze beers? However much as I would personally like that, I fear this is still way out of reach for the vast majority of beer consumers. The beer’s complexity is unrivalled in Beerland, the vinous character undeniable and its thirst-quenching capacity unmatched. Great festivals like Carnivale Brettanomyces (an hommage to all brewable yeasts and bacteria) draws more visitors year on year, but most beer drinkers will still think you’re pulling their leg when you serve them a geuze – at best. We’ll see how this trend will develop – who knows, maybe the new Black Label Geuze by Brouwerij Boon is the champion lance to help wild yeasts finally get their well-deserved pedestal.

The 'Mother of all saisons' by Brewery Dupont

The ‘Mother of all saisons’ by Brewery Dupont

That saison (the top-fermenting bit is superfluous and is, like ‘white snow’, a tautology) is gaining ground is undeniable. Just as with India Pale Ale, or Iepaa in Dutch, the fact Brand Brewery has chosen the style for its annual amateur brewing competition is all proof this style has been popularized. But if that will mean it’ll gain as much volume as Iepaa has remains to be seen – and I doubt it. There are still so many consumers who haven’t even tried their first Iepaa I suppose the year of saison is yet to come. Then again: it’s less intense hoppiness may give it the upperhand over IPA, being a lower flavor threshhold, and who knows indeed saison may be the leading beer style of 2016. We will have to see in December 2016 – most importantly, I’m so happy all sorts of great beers are so totally in the picture these days!

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