What is the next big thing in brewing? Who knows the next fad in craft? Any forgotten styles that will make a comeback? What the heck is a AVIPA? There are so many questions, so many unknowns. I lose sleep over this stuff. This week I will continue predictions for the coming year, not what I hope for but what I presume current trends will lead the industry towards. This past year continued with multiple dry-hopped, adjunct heavy, New-England style IPA’s. This movement does not seem to be slowing down, so here are a few other guesses at what 2018 trends might look like.
Goose Island began aging their Imperial Stout in Bourbon Barrels in the mid-90’s and the rest is history. Now you can find beers aged in Rum, Tequila, Scotch, Aquavit, Pinot Noir, Cognac, Brandy, Gin, Sake, and anything else that can impart flavor and add complexity to a base beer. Additionally, there are more styles getting barrel treatment beyond imperial stouts and barleywines. Brown Ales, Ciders, Saisons, and even the IPA is getting fortified and flavored in barrels. As our palates grow and become more refined, let’s challenge our local breweries to reach beyond bourbon barrels to wine and other spirits. After all there are plenty of barrels in NY state between the many spirit and wine producers within our borders.
I recently saw that Aslin Beer Company out of Virginia released an 18.4% AVIPA, which is a term they coined as an IPA over 18% that is dry hopped at least 5 times. This is a single run beer, which means that they do not add water to the initial “mash in” of grain and is composed of four separate mashes. Between the amount of grain and hops used, this seems to me like a waste of ingredients. As the liquid alchemists we call brewers are able to mask the alcohol in these high gravity beers, one wonders what the limits are? My guess is that a strong beer like this is more of a one time thing and not sustainable. How many 10% beers can one comfortably consume before it starts to feel like work?
Mid-size to Large Craft Brewery Struggles
The market is very competitive at the moment, and larger established breweries have the added challenge of remaining relevant and fresh among the newest hyper-local startups. Many of these new breweries are the brainchildren of head brewers from these large breweries or brewers who cut their teeth during the rapid expansion of the last ten years. Just in the last week a nearby brewery (Old Saratoga) abruptly shut down its operations, and another regional powerhouse (Smuttynose) has announced that it will sold through bank auction in March.
That’s is all for now, but next week I will be on location checking out the Tampa/St. Petersburg area brewery scene. Part 2 of this discussion will be coming out soon! Also The Ruck crew is heading out to Chatham Brewing at the end of this month for our 1st collaboration brew of the year, updates to follow.