A few days ago, I listened to Moira Gunn interviewing an author on her public radio program, “Tech Nation,” about what technology to expect in the next 50 years. That set me to thinking: what will the craft beer revolution that we have so carefully nurtured be like in 2053?
We find ourselves becoming the “ark” of the world's great beer styles.
Before we get too far down this path, I should tell you that I’m one of those folks who don’t believe in time. I guess you can say I’m not responsible for whatever I write about the future, or the past, since my view is that there’s only the continual now, but I digress, don’t I?
To see what may be in beer’s future, it might be wise to examine history.
The ninth through 14th and 15th centuries saw the first great revolution in beer brewing: the conquest of hops. Bohemian King Wenceslaus decreed the death penalty for smuggling hops out of his country; and English King Henry VIII declared severe penalties to prevent their use. Nevertheless, the hop revolution had been fully successful across the world, even in England, by mid-18th century. Bavarian lagers and English porters were the great beers in that era.
In the early 19th century, brewers learned temperature control in the malting process, and pale malts became possible. This initiated huge changes in brewing technology and brought to fruition the major beer style groups. Thus, the second great revolution: golden Bohemian-style cold fermented and aged lager beer. This style still towers over world brewing consumption. These less bitter, lower alcohol, attractive pale and mellow tasting beers became popular across the globe. Bohemian lagers, along with English pale ales (most especially, India pale ales), Irish stouts, and Bavarian doppelbocks dominate 19th century brewing accomplishments.