2016 In Beer

Martin Johnson - My beer predictions for the new year.

With 2015 giving way to 2016, I’m seeing lots of absurd lists like the 20 best new beers of 2015.I mean, really?The American craft beer movement is moving at such a pace that if you drank three new beers every day of the year, you still would only scratch the surface of the innovation.Instead, let’s try a different approach.Here are three things that I think will mark the world of beer in 2016.

More German Styles Will Become Popular

During the last two to three years, two mostly forgotten styles, Gose and Kolsch have become popular and for good reason.Their distinctive flavors and alluring textures make them ideal beers for everyday drinking.Both started as 'summer' beers but have broken out of the ghetto into 52 week a year refreshment.There’s a lot more to explore from the German tradition; after all they did develop the Reinheitsgebot.I think we will see a burgeoning interest in Bock and variations thereof like Doppelbock and Weizenbock. 

It’s a very accessible style and it has a broad range of overtones like toffee and anise.In addition the mouthfeel is unique and almost seductive.I’m already beginning to see Berliner Weisse on a lot of beer bar boards, and I think that will shift into higher gear.Unlike so very many hefeweissen that feature banana, clove and even bubble gum flavors, Berliner Weisse are tart and dry.This makes them especially refreshing and also it’s the perfect beer for the dry white wine drinker who thinks that all craft beer tastes like Sam Adams Boston Lager.A good Berliner Weisse will remind people of other beverages such as Basque and Astrurian cider or Jura Chardonnay.

Strike Up the Bagpipes, Here Comes Scotch Ale

Dark beers are one of the biggest wedge issues in the craft beer community.For many, porters and stouts are like drinking black coffee.I happen to like black coffee, but as I watch my coworkers at the store shovel heaps of sugar and pour quarts of cream (okay I exaggerate but still…) into their coffee, I realize that mine is a minority opinion.I like the dry finishes and subtle hints of dark chocolate and, well, java in the finish of my favorite dark beers, but others may not share my affections. 

Scotch Ales are rising and they are the caramel macchiato of dark beers.They have rich vanilla and caramel overtones and make roasted malt accessible for those who resist the drier finish in some dark beers.Some American brewers like Oscar Blues and Founders have had Scotch Ales in their rotation for years, but more American and Canadian brewers are joining the fray.Especially as winter deepens, I think we’ll see a groundswell of these tasty brews.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Craft Beer Market Will Continue to Boom

You could probably fill a decent size venue with the number of editors eagerly waiting to assign a “craft beer is over” story.It’s not that editors are evil, but that schadenfreude sells almost as well as sex does these days.Those editors will have to wait a bit longer.Even though craft beer has boomed from 8.7 billion dollars in sales in 2011 to 19.6 in 2014, early reports suggest that 2015 will maintain this torrid pace.Sales were up double digits over the first six months and by the time the data is in, it seems like that 2015 will continue the path that is almost due north on a Cartesian axis.The reasons are simple.The product is outstanding and more and more people who didn’t like their first encounter with craft beer and coming back and discovering beers that they do like.

The sunny business report and burgeoning range of styles means beer lovers should toast the arrival of 2016 with their favorite brew and save the bubbly for later.

The Author:

Martin Johnson is a beer buyer and merchandising manager for Westside Market East Village in New York City.When not selling or drinking beer he writes about jazz and beer for the Wall Street Journal, basketball for Slate, beer for Eater and about a variety of cultural and culinary topics for The Root.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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