Looking to the Future
All that being so, what about the future of the Craft Brewing Revolution? Well, we can be sure that we have only lightly tapped the potential of beer styles across the world.
The new Sam Adams Light (which I haven’t tasted) may be a forerunner of “light-beer-with-taste,” a sub-revolution of that style, whose time is well past due.
Our craft brewers are developing a large base of heavy beers, but this has definite limits in our automobile-oriented society. You can only have one of those at your local. Unless you can rent a designated driver to get you home, you are in danger.
We must, and will, develop what the British call “mild ale:” low in alcohol and heavy in taste. The only thing stopping this development is the fact that we have no name for such a beer type. “Mild,” “low alcohol,” and “light” are all discredited names. The session beer concept is in dire need of a name. And we must develop tasty beers.
Hops are sure to gain strength in our beers. Here in Oregon, we have brewers throwing hops around like rice at a wedding. We have super-hopped up a number of styles as Oregon common beer, Oregon IPA, and delightfully hoppy Oregon red ales. But then, we are also demanding imperialness (imperial, as in hoppiness and strength) in many of our beers: imperial IPA, imperial pilsner, imperial porter, and I’m waiting patiently for my first imperial common beer.
Then there is the “stout” category. Almost every competition brings new ideas: bourbon stout, chocolate stout, coffee stout, fruit-flavored stouts, etc. In Japan I found a Bavarian stout, that is, a stout brewed with Bavarian weizen yeast. I now look forward to some brewer producing a “Belgian” stout along the same lines: brewed with a good Belgian Trappist yeast and perhaps enhanced with a dollop of coriander or cardamom and a sliver of Curaçao orange peel. In the end, it will be our homebrewers who will actually pioneer the new beer styles for the 21st century.
Brewing technology, of course, will change dramatically in the next 50 years. Brewers in 2053 will surely have full computerization of every step (even more than they have now), and that will be possible even for us homebrewing cheapskates, as it’ll be cheap, too. However, I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a backlash against that much automation. We could easily see a renaissance of hand-brewed beers. That will probably take place just before the fourth great brewing revolution—the one leading back to tastelessness again.