Looking back on my Top 8 Beer Trends for 2016 — some rang true (dry-hopped everything, session ales), others not-a-so-much (single malt beers?! WTF was I thinking?) and others are waiting for the Canadian beer market to grow up (fine dining with beer, can we get a Canadian Luksus PLEASE).
For our 2017 trends, I’m feeling more confident. That’s because I’m not the only one predicting these bad boys — my sister, Tara Luxmore, joined me at Experience Beer this year, and we now write and travel together — hurray! Two is always better than one. And because we’ve travelled a lot this year, going to the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Philly, judging cider at GLINTCAP, tasting beer at GABS in Sydney, Australia, and attending our very first GABF. And we believe that tasting beer widely (especially in the U.S.) is key to seeing what is next on the horizon.
So this year, we expect to see deeper local partnerships between neighbourhood brewers and culinary businesses, from foragers to coffee roasters, and these will lead to new flavours in our brews. We know brewers will go deeper into beer’s third family of yeasts — the wild ones. And we predict a return to crisp lagers made the old-fashioned way, a continued downward focus on lower ABV’s in most styles, and some zany trends bubbling up from homebrewer’s basements, like chilli beers.
Here are our Top 9 Beer Trends for 2017 and where you can taste them from coast to coast
1. Wild and Sour Breweries
Not everyone is content to just kettle sour—more and more breweries in the US are going the way of Denver’s Crooked Stave and dedicating their entire production to wild and sour beers. Like Black Project, which started as the “wild beer” side-project for Former Future Brewery, but the brewer/owner loved making these styles so much, he shuttered the first brewery, rebranding to a funk house. These breweries are making beer with the “third family of yeast” Lacto, Pedio, Brett and spontaneous fermentation via coolships. (Hot tip: Go to Birreria Volo where Crooked Stave is pouring).
Nickel Brook’s “The Funk Lab,” became the first all-wild/sour brewery in the country when it opened this month.
Half Hours on Earth, a nano-brewery in Seaforth, Ontario deals mainly in sour and Brett strains too, but doesn’t like to be pinned down by style definitions.
Folly Brewpub, Toronto, a small, brett-focused brewpub on College Street. Try Inkhorn, dark with a touch of tart cranberry.
Must-Drink Wild Import — Rodenbach Vintage Ale, a hot LCBO pick, this Flanders Red is case-load worthy. Read about it in our six-pack.
2. The rise of the LagerHAUS
A reaction to the big, bitter IPAs that have dominated the American scene, breweries are producing more and more easy-drinking lagers, recreating the traditional pilsners and helles lagers imbibed by early German settlers. We’ve seen lagerhouses employing open fermentation and old world techniques popping up in a few cities in the U.S., (like Chicago’s Baderbraü) and a resurgence of pioneering German-style breweries like Denver Colorado’s Tivoli, so it’s only a matter of time before more follow here
Thornbury Brewing — the former King Brewery is still an all-lager house.
Moon Brewery & Pub, Victoria, B.C., focuses on German lagers with a West Coast twist
3. The Crowler
A portable jumbo-canning machine that will change the way we transport fresh beer? Yes, please. Growler, meet can. Yup. It’s the crowler. And it’s a damn fine thing. These 32-ounce jumbo can is be filled-to-order with fresh brew at a brewery or tap room. Pioneered by Ball Canning and Oskar Blues, they’re are all over the US and we predict they’ll start to replace brown jug growlers at brewpubs and breweries across Canada too. No more unwashed growlers, or flat beer. (Check out Tooth & Nail’s co-founder, Dayna Guy filling crowlers in this “Sight Glass” video).
So cuddle up with a crowler this fall. Get your fill at these Canuck breweries:
Frank Brewing Co,, Tecumseh, ON
Tooth and Nail Brewing Company, Ottawa, ON
Redline Brewhouse, Barrie, ON
Banded Peak Brewing, Calgary, AB
Tree Brewing, Kelowna, BC
Moody Ales, Port Moody BC
4. Golden Coffee Beers
Move over stouts and porters, this year we’ll see coffee is appearing in everything from golden pilsners to barleywines. And we’re not talking Nescafe. After all, any hipster neighbourhood worth its effortless cool will have an artianal coffee roaster no more than a bean’s throw away from a craft brewery. You can think of these beers as their love children, designed around the terroir of the artisanal roaster’s blend. To showcase the bean’s complexity, brewers are using pale malts and dubbing these brews “white stouts.”
Another bubbling trend? Coffee pouring from nitro taps at craft breweries (it’s coming…).
Collabrrrewnaut, Beau’s All-Natural Brewing, in the Best of Beau’s 2016 mix pack
Bricks and Mortar, Left Field Brewery
Morningside Blonde Ale, Dominion City Brewing Company, Ottawa, ON
5. Foraged Beer
Brewers are venturing beyond local malts and hops, and partnering up with local foragers to head into the woods and pick ingredients such as juniper berries, heather tips, mushrooms, and wild ginger root to toss into their brews.
Pengo Pally, Bush Pilot Brewing
Polaris Ale, Beau’s Brewing Co.
6. Pucker Up – Kettle Sours
Breweries are finding a quick way to satiate our growing thirst for sour beer. They simply add Lactobacillus bacteria (that zippy, tangy bacteria that ferments yogurt) to cooled wort, before it’s boiled and fermented. Known as kettle souring this process is a shortcut to making sours; It doesn’t require the time, money and risk of infection, which introducing wild yeast strains into a brewery does. Sprinkle in some salt and coriander afterwards, and you’ve got yourself a gose, which also falls into this family. But some sours are better than others—our favourites contain mind-blowing blends of fruit, herbs and hops — like orange juice and mosaic hops, cucumber and lime, hibiscus, and passion fruit. With very few year-round offerings of sours and goses on our country’s shelves—it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing a lot more of them soon.
De Witte, Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby, BC
Hors Série Gose, Les Trois Mousquetaires, QC
Hacky Sack Kettle Sour, Northwinds Brewery, Collingwood, ON
Sour Pumpkin Saison, Collective Arts Brewing Company, Hamilton, ON
Ceres Cucumber Lime Gose, Nickel Brook Funk Lab
7. Juicy IPAs
Think of orange juice in a glass, then add alcohol. Dry, pithy and uber-juicy, so called “Juicy IPAs” are pouring everywhere in the U.S. and Canada is catching up fast. Born of the Vermont-style IPA fame (Heady Topper, Sip of Sunshine) trying to nail down the style description of this nascent category is nearly as hazy as the cloudy, sunset-orange beers themselves. Often made with a Vermont ale yeast, and “juicy” hop varietals like Mandarina Bavaria, these brews are also deliberately cloudy thanks in part to brewers hammering them with wheat, oats or even flour. The next iteration? Adding actual juice to the beer, like Samuel Adam’s new “Rebel Juiced” made with Zeus, Mosaic, Mandarina hops and — yes, mango juice. Who knows if the Boston brewery’s juiced-up IPA will take off or jump the shark? But in the meantime we’ve found some naturally juicy ones made here in Canada, for you to try:
Side Cut IPA, Bridge Brewing Company, Vancouver BC
Flagship IPA, Steamworks Brewing, Vancouver BC
Sawdust City Juicin’ IPA, Gravenhurst, ON
Double Orange Ale, and RSMAUnfiltered Brewing, Halifax, NS
Green Out, Barncat Artisan Ales, Cambridge ON
Flying Monkeys Juicy Ass IPA, Barrie, ON
8. Chili Beers
Jalapeno Cream Ale? Chilli Saison? Yes please. This hot trend has bubbled up from home brewers who think it’s a brilliant idea to chuck mounds of homegrown hot peppers into their beers. The worst examples taste like a Dad’s home-made hot sauce—but with alcohol. Most chilli beers used to be stouts or porters, for a mole-like effect. But these days, brewers are adding heat to a range of golden styles. The best begin with a really great beer and integrate the chilis for a surprising, fiery warmth in the back of the throat.
Honey Habanero, Frank Brewing Company, Tecumseh, ON
Jalapeno Ale, Garrison Brewing Co., Halifax, NS
Red Racer Habanero Stout, Vancouver, BC
9. Sibling Celebs will Rule the Beer Universe
Move over Handsome. I mean Hanson. We’re super pumped to rebrand our business as “The Beer Sisters.” Watch for it mid-2017!