It was a learning experience, talking about other people’s beer predictions. So it’s time to put my own neck in the rope, my head on the chopping block – time to turn my cheek and be slapped. Please don’t spare me when reviewing my five predictions for Netherland, Beer land 2016!
What’ll be hot #1: Saison taking over from IPA as ‘most popular beer style’ was agreed on via Facebook as early as 2013. However, I’m amazed to see IPA still retaining its popularity and it shows no signs of having reached its top yet! Thus, saison has not yet really broken out – albeit Brand embracing the style. No, what’ll be ‘hot’ in 2016 in terms of style is: pilsener! Pilsener the way it’s meant to be, or as the Americans call it ‘craft pils’. I really believe in the re-valuation, or rediscovery if you wish, of this most popular beer style. Yet, I see those beers be from small, artisanal breweries. The likes of Firestone Walker, Anchor Brewery and Lagunitas paved the way, to name but a few. Which Dutch brewers dare to stand shoulder to shoulder with Gulpener and re-invent pils? O, and darling beer friends: you don’t have to like it, but please give it an honest taste and speak honestly!
What’ll be hot #2: The opening of Marqt on Gelderlandplein saw the first serious attempt in retail to serve beer cold: thirty meters of cool beery delicacies! In Vienna a store opened (Bierlovers) boasting a walk-in fridge as well as a cold shelve wall, serving and keeping all vulnerable beers cool. And not, as you may think, for reasons of convenience so you can pop your cork on the street – no, from a quality perspective, to sell you the best beer possible! Just like Heineken Vers is kept cool all the way from packaging to shelve: light, air but above all too high temperature kills your beer. I hope, and expect, more stores will follow this example in 2016. Which national chain will do the honors?
What’ll be hot #3: Local is neither a hype nor a trend, so much is clear now – perhaps because of the idea we’ve thus gone two hundred years back in time. Personally, I like to know the baker who baked my bread, just as I like my butcher hand-picking the cows he chops up and sells – and I like nothing more than drinking a pint with the person who brewed it. For long I did so locally in tasting rooms, but more and more you see breweries open up who brew solely for the tasting room and have no desire to package at all – brew pubs! How ‘local’, recognizable and tangible can it get? Of course they serve a bite: local dishes, mostly with locally grown ingredients. The brew pub: every city or village can have one (again!) and I predict 2016 to be the year of the Dutch Brew pub.
What’ll be hot #4: okay, maybe I’ve got my hopes up too high, but I hereby echo Kim Lentjes’ prediction for 2015, can being thé packaging for beer. Why, again? Well: beer in cans stays fresh longest and of the highest quality, protected from light and air, and is best for the environment. Where many American breweries preceded I foresee at least five Dutch artisanal breweries offering their beer in can (too) this coming year. Five at least!
What’ll be hot #5: If I like it I want another one, and then some. When I order a fourth I know I have a winner in my hand. This ‘four pint rule’ is the leading principle for some breweries. Sure I enjoy a high-alcohol, wood aged and elaborately flavored beer just as the next man – but they have their moments. Sligro’s Foodbrigade prediction, eyeing English low-alcohol beer to become hugely popular in 2016 I echo for the last part: beer below 4,5% ABV yet full and rich in taste, inviting you for another sip, another glass, will gain ground. It may be a limitation, but doesn’t a real Master show himself in the limitations?
Right, there you have them: my five predictions for 2016. Can’t wait to review these in December 2016. Cheers for now!