Tracking the Trends with Jo

Each year, and over the course of centuries, trends that flow with each pour of beer vary as much as the common style of fashion. Like fashion, much of what trends can be due to necessity. However, in a day in which certain factors like water purity, refrigeration, transport, or material availability do not plague the capabilities of a brewer we find that a brewer’s creativity flows more freely. There are weird trends, for certain, however, these are some of the few that I predict will become more popular through 2018: hazy IPAs, not-beer beers, and session beers.

Hazy IPAs are classified and named as such for their, well, hazy appearance. But they are so much more than that. It is the mark of brewers showcasing their work in its rawest form. Brews straight from the tank have yet to go through the polishing stages of the brewing process and come to that clear or opaque color we formerly associated with beers. In recent years many brewers and brew lovers have leaned towards more unfiltered brews and less filtered brews. Beers that are unfiltered are cloudy or hazy in color and gain their carbonation from a longer process of fermentation. Filtered brews usually have artificial carbonation added to the brew post clarification and pre bottling. This method is becoming less common in new brews that want to truly show the best features of a brew. And what better way to do that than to know the carbonation you taste is straight from the fermented grains, hops and yeasts used in brewing? Before, this was a brewery only treat. But now, the unfiltered, unprocessed style is the freshest trend. IPAs in particular are popular in this trend. The brewing process is a very touchy process in that the type of hop and when it is added into the brew in the process greatly changes the flavor outcome of any brew. This means that the unfiltered IPAs showcase in every aspect of itself the talent and knowledge of the brewer, and tastes as it does based solely on what hops and when. Think of it as the most delicious aged rotten herbs you’ve ever tasted. This year I expect you all to make sure you’re getting your fill of vegetables. If that so happens to be in the form of drinking your veggies… I won’t tell your mom if you don’t.

The not-beer beers. I bet you read that and thought “whaaaa?” Yes, the beers that are not beers but we don’t know what to categorize them as so we just put them into the area of beer. But that’s just it, they aren’t brewed with malts, yeast, water, or hops. They are brewed with magic! Well, no, but sometimes it seems like it. The hard seltzer waters that are out there, the hard root beers and ginger ales. I even have an alcoholic green tea currently in stock. I lie not, it’s amazing. I actually worry that they are too good and I will pretend my regular morning tea is just like any other day but, in reality, it will be one of those. I have some Radler’s coming in that are tea brewed with spices and beers and sometimes I find myself gathering my sorority girl attitude because I CAN’T EVEN. Seriously though. I often find myself having conversations with myself because I have to talk myself off the ledge of becoming an alcoholic. I often joke I got this job due to my alcoholism. Now I fear it is the opposite way and this job will turn me into an alcoholic because there is just so many yummy brews out there. I mean, just think about all the yummy, lonely brews out there that want some love and I pass them every day and ignore them. They call to me, they want chosen. I’m like the claw in Toy Story that all the little space alien toys envy and aspire to be picked up by in that crane game at Pizza Planet.

We have lots of session IPAs that have already been popular in the public eye. With the hustle and bustle of beer steadily increasing there is a certain sense of relaxation many of us want to re-instill into our daily lives. This spring, summer and even fall I think people are going to look for more session beers. Lighter and smoother flavors, lower ABV and mid-range pricing that assures us flavor is not sacrificed for cost. Lounging has become something we now plan, and what better way to complete that plan than to top it off with a solid brew. However, those heavy stouts, the extremely bitter IPAs, or those lagers with the 11% ABV aren’t exactly relaxing. Imagine this: you are spending your day in the sunshine, leaning back on a tube in the pool. The cool water tickles your toes and creates a stark contrast to the heat creating beads of sweat the drip from your next. You look to your buddy lounging on the pool deck and ask them to pass you a beer. They reach into the cooler, shake some ice off a can and toss it to you. It’s your favorite style of brew and you are eager for that first sip. Your senses are tickled from the familiar hiss and snap of aluminum, the cool liquid sliding over your lips and your sigh of relief and relaxation is so palpable it’s as if the can itself hears it an is grinning back at you. Sessionable beers are categorized by anything that doesn’t surpass 5% alcohol per volume. Those beers that are easy to sip, gain a buzz, and remain so without those unwanted effects of too much alcohol and not enough of the red stuff in your veins. Now, I am sure that your day of relaxation did not include drowning from getting so drunk you fell asleep on your pool noodle face down in the chlorinated liquid that appeared so tranquil only moments before. So look for plenty of session style brews this spring and summer.