Soon we’ll all be clinking glasses to say goodbye to 2015 and usher in a new year. For me, it will be a year full of new beers. But what styles will percolate to the top of the taps in the country’s best beer bars and bottle shops?
Look no further folks, for here are my Top 8 beer trends of 2016:
Yup. Not just for IPA’s, Session IPA’s, or even Black IPA’s anymore. Expect to see citrusy, floral or spicy aromatics pop up in the noses of nearly every beer style, from sours to stouts. Oh, and ciders too, obvy.
Puckeringly sour and furiously funky ales like lambics and Flanders Reds have been around for centuries and inspired a new style, North American Wild Ales, over the last few years. In 2016, sour or funky will bacterias come into play more subtly. Brewers are creating beers with a side of acidity, or a whisper of farmhouse funk. Look for more subdued traditional styles like Gose, Berliner Weisse or earthy Farmhouse Ales, and popular brews like Imperial Stouts and IPA’s spiked with a touch of souring bacteria or wild yeast.
Beer geek alert! This year expect specialty malts to get the same star treatment as hops—beers will be brewed with the same base malt but just one specialty malt to showcase that malt’s contribution to the ale’s colour, aroma and body.
Limited Release Beers
Limited release bottles like Amsterdam’s Double Tempest, and Great Lakes’ Thrust IPA cause lineups and havoc on their release days. In 2016 we will see more and more bottle frenzies for special or rare releases as demand rises.
Runs/Worships/Om’s with Beer
Beer has always been at the centre of my social circle—but now it’s going further, to invade every nook and cranny of our lives—from craft beer tastings at Church Services, to beer and board games cafes, to yoga at a brewery (here’s looking at you, Junction) to running clubs dedicated to the pursuit of a pint.
Return to Lagers
Eschewed by craft brewers initially due to the long fermentation times and added expense and difficulty to produce, plus the public’s general lager fatigue, there is a thirst for crisp, clean light-bodied lagers once again, like Mill Street’s 100th Meridian. Plus new innovations in the family of lager yeasts promises more variety in the brewhouse. This year we’ll see more small-batch lagers– and more experimentation in this category–than ever before.
Fine Dining with Beer
Some of the world’s best restaurants are embracing beer as the perfect partner to food. This year Canadian chef Daniel Burns’s earned a Michelin star for Luksus, where he creates a tasting menu that can only be paired with one alcoholic beverage: beer. I’m hoping 2016 will be the year that at least one or two top Canadian restaurants begin to seriously consider beer as a food partner. To try this trend at home: swap predictable table wine with large-sized beer bottles at your next dinner party. Styles like Belgian farmhouse ales offer sparkling bubbles and a dry finish that will sync with any fancy dish. For recipe and pairing inspiration check out Burn’s and his brewer collaborator, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso’s, new book Food & Beer.
You can SESSION that
Move over Imperial—Session is beer’s new qualifier. More and more breweries are lowering the buzz factor on just about every beer style. Good news for those of us who want to knock back more than one without falling off the bar stool or packing on the pounds. Look for a return to traditional low-ABV styles like English Milds, Berliner Weisse’s and Schwarzbiers, and the word “session” attached as the new “it” modifier, attached to nearly every beer style from Stouts to IPA’s.