The Beer Industry is Catching a Storm
The beer industry is caught in a storm. It weathered a pandemic and tariffs, but now it’s facing increased competition from hard seltzer and nonalcoholic drinks.
Despite this, beer has maintained steady growth behind the bar, and 2023 is expected to be another solid year. Here are a few of the trends to look out for.
Cask beer can be spectacular when served properly, but if it’s flat and flavorless, it can leave drinkers in search of other pubs. That’s why many cask enthusiasts are passionate about the process and the details of serving cask ale — the same people who get excited over a good pint of beer.
To make a quality cask of beer, the first step is to prime it with a mix of sugar and water. Then, you should let the beer ferment at a temperature that is appropriate for the strain of yeast, such as 68 degF (20 degC). If you are using finings, wait until the beer has reached a stable gravity before adding them.
Finally, the cask should be conditioned at a lower temperature — between 41 and 52 degF (5 and 7 degC) — for two weeks before being sold. Don’t jostle the cask, as that can kick up sediment and ruin the appearance and flavor of the beer.
As beer’s ABV continues to rise, consumers are seeking out brews that offer them more bang for their buck. This has led to the recent surge of high-ABV brews, including supersized versions of popular brands and boosted drinks like Three Floyds’ 8.5 percent ABV Zombie Ice or Troegs Independent Brewing’s new 9.5 percent ABV Double Nugget Nectar.
This category of brews hits the sweet spot between laid-back and lively, offering a delightful dance of flavors without tipping you over. Whether you’re looking to sip on a session with friends or a drink that meets your calorie and alcohol limits, these brews are perfect for any occasion.
To calculate the ABV of a beer, brewers measure how much sugar is present at the beginning of the fermentation process and then compare that to how much alcohol it produces after the yeast has eaten it all up. Because yeast can only successfully ferment up to a certain point of ABV, higher ABV brews are made by using more malt or supplementing the malt with another source of sugar, like dextrose or molasses.
In recent years, brewers have made huge strides in crafting alcoholic-free beers that are not only refreshing but delicious. Using vacuum evaporation, filtration and other techniques, these brews can offer the deep flavors of an IPA or a rich stout without any alcohol.
These non-alcoholic brews are making major gains in the beer market, with sales growing in Western Europe and the Middle East. Heineken 0.0 has become a big seller, and brewers like AB InBev have set a goal of making 20 percent of their beer non-alcoholic by 2025.
These brews don’t contain any alcohol because they skip the fermentation stage entirely. Though they’ll still use malt, hops and water, they won’t go through a yeast-based fermentation process. Instead, these drinks are carbonated by machines. This means that they have less calories and can be enjoyed by a larger audience. They can be sold at bars, restaurants, convenience stores and even anywhere that sells bottled water.
The Craft Lager
The resurgence of lager among craft breweries and beer drinkers could be seen as a bandwagon moment, a jump the shark finale – or even worse, a move that’s simply a part of the natural progression of craft beer. But a closer look at the trend suggests that it’s not just about getting more of what craft consumers want, but also making room for beers that showcase process and ingredient quality, and offer something different to the IPA-centric landscape that’s been dominating craft.
Lagers take a longer time to ferment and require more resources, so they’re technically more challenging to brew well than ales. But brewing them right can be rewarding to the brewer and give their brand some additional credibility in the eyes of the public.
But if you walk into your local brewery today, you’re likely not going to find anyone lining up for a canned lager release like they do for an IPA or barrel-aged stout. Instead, you’re likely to see lagers sold in pint glasses at the bar or six packs at the grocery store.