12 Craft beer trends to look out for in 2018

31/01/2018

In the glass…

1. Innovation and Experimentation: Due to the explosion in the number of craft breweries in the US and UK, 2018 will see a jostling for position among new market entrants. We’re likely to see large numbers of new products released, with many new flavours made available and brewing techniques attempted.


The results may vary in terms of quality, but great drinks will endure. Tailgate Brewery, one of our partners in the US, have had great success producing small batch, seasonally appropriate craft beer. Started in Nashville in 2014, they have grown into a 50-barrel system, with 30 of their own, house-brewed beers on tap at each of their taproom locations. The brewers at Tailgate have proved that experimentation and innovation, when combined to produce quality beers with incredible flavours, really works!

 

 

2. Sours Rule: In 2017 sales of sour beer rose by 6.4% in the UK. We believe this year will see a continued rise, with new fruited sours launched in efforts to win over a few more traditional drinkers. One of the frontrunners in this market is Fordham’s The 11th Sour in the US.


This ale is a kettle sour that uses lactobacillus, fermented on house ale yeast and then aged on concord grapes. It’s a zingy treat for the tastebuds and a great example of a sour that’s not so far leftfield that it’s for the hardcore beer geeks only; this is one that the majority of craft beer drinkers, in our humble opinion, will really enjoy.

3. Looking for a New England: IPAs will continue to be popular but sales will shift towards the hazy, foggy or New England style. They’ll also come down in strength with some session products released, making this cult style more readily available to the mainstream market.


4. Double Trouble: High strength craft beers will continue to grow in popularity. Around 11% of all craft beers sold in 2017 were of 7% ABV or higher, rising from 5.3% the previous year. Last year Double IPAs accounted for 7.3% of all craft beer sales (compared to 4.3% in 2016). Consumers don’t appear to be put off by the higher price point and really enjoy the distinct flavour and high strength of double IPAs.


Cue.. Resin from Sixpoint at a whopping 9.1%


Resin slaps you with serious unfiltered dankness — sure it stings, but it feels so good at the same time. It’s hop candy up front, but drinks super clean for the size of the beer. We’re very excited to be working with this IIPA and bringing some seriously good strong beer to bars all over the UK.


Sixpoint Resin

5. Drinking Sessions: In reaction to the growth in the market of beers with higher alcohol content we will also see craft breweries developing their ranges of lower strength and session beers. Drinking in the UK is still a social pastime, so there will be a growing need for weaker, but still flavourful, craft brews.


Favourable tax rates for lower ABV drinks will also prompt brewers to develop these ranges. We may also see alcohol-free beers become more established in 2018 as they become more socially accepted and improve in taste.


We know session beers are loved in the UK as Fordham’s Route One IPA, at 4.5%, continues to be one of our best sellers year on year.


6. Stout Hearted: Sales of Imperial stouts rose by 3.3% in 2017, indicating that stouts and porters will go from strength to strength in 2018. Many industry experts have remarked that dark beers have been improving in quality in the last year, and this is something we have seen ourselves.


We have been developing our own range of imported US stouts which now include a couple of fantastic flavoured Milk Stouts in the shape of Saugatuck’s Neapolitan Milk Stout and Blueberry Maple Stout, Dominion’s Oak Barrel Stout, and the hugely popular Peanut Butter Milk Stout from Tailgate.



 

In the pub…

 

7. Down the ‘Local’: The great British public is becoming more discerning and more selective about how they spend their precious time and money. Trends indicate that in 2018, drinkers are as likely to frequent an independent, local establishment or recognised national chain – it’s about where they feel a sense of affinity with the staff and the product.


Attendance at taproom open days is already on the rise, giving consumers the chance to learn about the brewing process and sample locally produced beers. Over the last four years 40 UK brewers have sourced over £50m in crowd-funding. This demonstrates a huge appetite among the public to own a personal stake in the breweries they believe in.


Check out places like Bison Beer (Hove) and Kill the Cat (Brick Lane) to see just what we’re on about!

 


8. Crafty tech: As younger generations are discovering the world of craft beer, smartphones and other technologies will find practical uses within the pub setting. The ability to pay using a mobile phone app will become more commonplace, or perhaps to control the jukebox, or research and review their purchases.



Online communities will continue to develop around craft breweries and the establishments that sell their products, but (as we’ll see later) the role of the barman will also increase in importance.

 


In the business…

9. Diversification: The number of pubs closing is declining compared to previous years. ‘Wet’ pubs that only serve drink may look to diversify to maintain their position. With this will come an increased focus on pairing food with different types of beer and offering something different to consumers.

10. The Battle for Talent: We expect to see a potential reduction in the numbers of European bar workers as the uncertainty of Brexit continues throughout 2018. Couple this with rising employment levels and we may see a battle to hire skilled people throughout the brewing and hospitality business.


Only a third of beer drinkers currently believe that staff have a good enough knowledge of the beers they are serving, so this will be a key way for establishments to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In 2018 we expect to see more competition for talented employees and a need for bar managers to ensure their team understand the range of beers they are serving. We believe that staff training and customer tasting sessions are key in educating both bar teams and drinkers, which ultimately leads to increased sales!



 

In the packaging…

11. Can it: Canned craft beer sales grew by a massive 327% between January and August 2017 in the UK. Younger consumers in particular are looking more and more for products that reflect their own lifestyle and image. Standout design, lightweight and recyclable materials will be as important as the ability to keep contents fresh.


We love the nanokeg that Sixpoint use. They understood that keg was by far the best vessel for retaining the quality and freshness of the beer inside and wanted to ensure their beer could reach the drinker in the best condition and so opted for cans rather than bottles to remain true to their values.


12. Beer art: The design of craft beer packaging will play increased importance in the consumers’ purchase decisions. Research shows that eye-catching, modern and innovative designs can be more important than shelf space in drawing the eye of the consumer. Designers of craft beer cans, bottle labels and pump clips are building on the culture of craft brewing, referencing everything from B-movies to modern art.



Having looked at the key trends for this year, we are ensuring the brands we manage and develop provide the innovation and experience that the consumer is seeking.

 

 

SOURCES:

http://zythophile.co.uk/2017/07/10/fanboy-investors-put-50m-into-uk-craft-breweries-but-is-that-money-down-the-drain/

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2018/01/five-trends-in-craft-beer-to-watch-in-2018/

http://imbibe.com/news-articles/beers/pub-trends-2018-haze-food-and-keeping-it-local/

https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news/markets/drinks/nielsen-research-shows-rise-popularity-canned-craft-beer-20-11-2017

https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2017/12/21/What-are-the-major-beer-trends-for-2018

https://www.beerwulf.com/en-gb/articles-about-craft-beer/beer-predictions-2018/

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/sep/03/brew-period-craft-beer-labels-works-of-art

 

 

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