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!
After analysing the 2015 predictions by Kim Lentjes and the 2016 predictions by Sligro’s Foodbrigade, it’s time to look at the 7 beer trends Biernetwerk.nl wants to be rid of. It’s an impressive and varied list of ‘small and large grievances of the (Dutch) beer culture’: so, what’s my take on it?
‘The total absence of Russian Imperial Stouts in supermarkets’: whoa, that’s a kick off! These poor supermarket category managers have just transformed their shelves from a virtuel dessert to a beer oasis, turns out they’ve still overlookes styles! Just give it time, I’d say, and remember a supermarket is not a specialized store. Rather, count your blessings!
‘Pretentious beer competitons’: I’ll admit many competitions have a ridicolously large list of (sub)styles, but for me Biernetwork exegerates here. Ultimately there’s but a handful of globaly respected competitions, and it’s more all these festivals having their own internal rankings. I’d much rather cheer the fact there’s so much attention and pressure on quality for participants! Where Biernetwork ridicules the medal for Heineken Light (in the ‘light lager’ category at Brussels Beer Challenge) they seem to suggest Heineken NOT being a globally respected quality brew – youthful exuberance?
‘Pretentious beer connoisseurs and beer clubs’: I wonder if I should feel addressed here, which is thus probably a ‘yes’ – besides, I’m vain enough to hope they addressed me too. Well, you won’t be rid of me that easily my friends! But please, do warn me the moment I start referring to myself as ‘Thé beer sommelier of The Netherlands’ because than I know I suffer from shamless overconfidence. But I get the point made by the boys and girls of Biernetwork: there are many people indeed talking utter nonsense about beer. Yet, that has nothing to do with age alone, kids! And do ask how high you want to climb yourselves – then take the risk to fall!
‘Barrel aging without profound knowledge’: well, here’s one I can almost echo in full, although I’d be tempted to replace ‘barrel aging’ by ‘brewing’. There is a lot of experimenting going on that’s not hampered by knowledge – but most importantly, there’s a lot of brewing without true passion. Every succesful sector will eventually attract tricksters and free-riders, but Holland seems to attract them quicker. Anyway: more knowledge won’t hurt anyone.
‘Sexist marketing’: wow, there’s an open door! My personal thoughts on the ‘Love Beer’ campaign are a little more nuanced, but that may be my age. Point is: beer does not discriminate between sex, skin colour, political or religeous convictions, sexual preferences or intelligence – beer only discriminates on age. No 18, NIX!
‘Poorly organised beer festivals’: this entry looks like it has been dragged in by the hair, because as far as I know domestic beer festivals are usually well executed (and the individual case referred to by Biernetwerk has clearly showed it has learned from failliure, as well as apologized). Sure, the staffing of the taps at Bokbierfestival always seems a bit of a mixture of Nouvelle Vague and Russian roulette, but I wouldn’t whine too much about it. Better, offer to be a volunteer yourself and only throw stones at what deserves it.
‘Exaggerated marketing’: wow again, scoring high in lopen doors again! Why not ask for ‘world peace’ or ‘honest advertising’. Duh. But the underlying issue, being the creation of over-expectancy, is indeed a serious issue. However we shouldn’t be looking at brewers (and their darling boys and girls of marketing) for this but at ourselves, beer drinkers/ – lovers/ – connoisseurs/ – experts/ – enjoyers/ – networkers: it doesn’t always have to be bigger, bolder, more extravagant. Just brewing good beer is, in itself, not an easy task you know, let alone repeating it time and time again. Again: please, do count your blessings!