Trends? I Think Not.
A series of recent beer bar experiences challenged, in my mind, any idea of “trends” for the craft beer industry. I dropped by a pretty cool beer bar, the Busy Bee, for its 2nd anniversary celebration. The rare beer on that night was something made by Spike at Terrapin, which included maple syrup—Spike only agreed to work with Busy Bee if they aged it for a year.
Earlier in the day I’d fielded a question from our local weatherman about how to get beer educated. I’d suggested visiting a favorite multi-tap, Flying Saucer, and having the staff walk him through some style flights, as anyone who works there could guide him through a crash course.
Musing over these diverse experiences, I headed to a once-favorite watering hole that I’d abandoned due to lack of good choice and a poor line-cleaning regimen. Two towers of a half dozen taps each greeted me, both sporting a range of local craft favorites and some international gems.
These incidents percolated through my brain as I followed one of our Facebook threads on today’s beer trends. The contributors predicted the fading of the light lager, the overwhelming domination of extreme beers, the ruination of major breweries’ attempts at making craft-style beers and the limited viability of session beers, among a few dozen other trend predictions.
What is a trend? Dictionary definition: A general direction in which something is developing and changing. The opposite, a fad, is something ephemeral, or dictated from the top down. Think about fashion for that one.
The fruit beer trend? Still here. The can fad? Way past a trend now. Barrel aging trend? Going strong. The future of the four pack couldn’t be brighter. Trend for session beer? Taking off. 22oz bomber trend? The shelves are overflowing. And on and on.
As craft beer sales grow into the double digits and relentlessly pursue the magic threshold of 10 percent of the market, the notion of a trend seems rather facile. This has been an industry transformation, with whole segments of the market, and the industry, affected.
The essence of this trend, of this sea change, lies in the consumers’ aesthetic. The industry continues to add new layers to the experience of beer, of craft beer; layers that continue to provide an ever-expanding range of opportunity for our customers to experience beer pleasure.
Sure multi-taps were the rage in the past decade and now extreme beer bars seem de rigueur, but the multi-taps are still kicking it, just like the corner bars now stock craft beer. There are more after-work experiences for an increasing range of experiences. The beer world just keeps expanding—more breweries, more beers, more beer styles, more bars, more taps, more shelf space.
On another note, I wish to observe a milestone. After being in the middle of all the challenges and tumult of the rapid growth of the magazine, editor Julie Johnson is stepping out of the fray, while dedicating herself to maintaining our standards of excellence and continuing to writing for us.
As contributing editor, Julie will continue to provide guidance on the editorial direction of our work, and oversee its quality. In her already well-established role, Julie will collaborate with team members ensuring that the tradition of quality and excellence endure into the future.
In addition to maintaining this oversight, Julie will continue to contribute award-earning writing. Presently the beer writer for the local weekly newspaper, Julie also contributes to several industry publication providing overviews on the beer industry in general, and the craft brewing industry in particular. Several of her articles in this publication have garnered the highest industry awards.
This editorial originally appeared in July 2011, Vol. 32. No. 3