A Look into the Future of Beer in 2019

So we are already a month and a half into 2019, but it is never too late to make some predictions about what the year ahead holds. So hold onto your glass as we look into the future.

This will not be the year of the lager. 

It seems for the past several years everyone keeps saying that this will be the year of the lager and IPAs will finally trend down. I'm not saying lagers won't continue to be popular, but they aren't going to take over the market place. The main reason - price point. I definitely enjoy a crisp refreshing lager especially under the right circumstance, but they often retail at close to the price point of more flavorful and higher abv options. While your local taproom will probably still boast that their pilsner or light lager is their number 2 best seller, they will likely concede that some sort of IPA is their number 1. The closest force to making it the year of the lager will be Founders Solid Gold. It becoming available in 24 pack suitcases for near premium macro prices will definitely help sales, but most breweries do not have the economy of scale to make their crushable lager cheap enough that it doesn't crush your finances.

"Healthy" beer will be this years biggest trend. 

I'm not talking about Bud Light commercials and corn syrup accusations. I'm talking about low alcohol and low calorie beers gaining massive market share. Dogfish Head started this trend with their spiked seltzer-esque sour Sea Quench, and their new IPA Slightly Mighty is going to create a new market segment. Session beers have always been a thing, but how they are marketed and branded will be at the heart of this trend. Prepare to see labels on craft packages spouting words like calories and carbs. With craft shelves dominated by diet wrecking calorie bombs these new labels will draw in more consumers who want to balance health and fun. Before the year is over I expect many national brands like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Goose Island to do a limited run of a "healthy" seasonal. Add in craft brewers like MIA and Oskar Blues making their own spiked seltzer options and this year is poised to help all those flannel shirts be a little less tight across the midsection.

The options available at your local beer store and bar will be missing familiar faces and have endless new ones. 

This trend has been ongoing, but it going to come to a head this year. Already in the past year I have seen announcements or heard chatter about Evolution, Hardywood and Starr Hill leaving the South Eastern PA market. More and more breweries will pull out of distribution as competition for shelf space and consumer dollars becomes more fierce. Seemingly every week a new brewery is entering the distribution market with small runs of flashy 16oz cans peppered across the region. The past 6 months have seen breweries like Lawson's, Pipeworks, Interboro, Hoof Hearted, Burley Oak, Barrier and Sloop (just to name a few) all appear on shelves and draft lists. Combine these highly regarded breweries to an endless line of locals looking for market share and you have more product than consumer dollars. In my area every small town now seems to have a local brewery and these are essentially operating as the new local bar. All this adds up to classic and long standing brands loosing more market share. Smaller regional breweries won't be able to stand up against the shiny new options, the fear of missing out and endless cries to "drink local". Flagship February won't do much to slow all this down either.

No longer will being good be good enough. Lots of breweries will close, but I don't think that there is a craft beer bubble. It is more of a realignment where some breweries go out of business and others will quickly fill the void they left. I wouldn't be surprised to see powerful PA breweries like Victory and Troegs pull out of some of their more far flung markets and focus on their home turf where they have the most to lose.

Hazy IPAs aren't going anywhere yet. 

I think lines will shorten and hype will go down, but the haze craze will hold on for another year. New England style IPAs are very accessible with massive juicy flavors and reduced bitterness. I don't think they will stay the number one IPA trend for long, but I think they will become a permanent part of the IPA vocabulary like fruited IPAs. The reason hazy IPAs will eventually be dethroned is the lack of consistency, short shelf life and market confusion. Almost every brewery is making a hazy IPA and not all of them are good. Once consumers get burnt to many times from premium price tags and inconsistent quality many of these brewers will start to find their beers lingering on shelves for too long to stand up against the short flavor life cycle of all those late hop additions. It is a bitter cycle. Big brewers like Goose Island and Sam Adams have pumped out enough mediocre haze into the market that what constitutes a New England or hazy IPA is clouded. While Grapefruit Sculpin is definitely still staying strong, larger breweries chasing market trend will drop their haze attempts within the next year or two. I fully expect haze to continue strong at local taprooms where it is at its best with a quick turnover.

So what do you see in the future of craft beer in 2019? Do I need to clean my crystal ball or do you see a similar future? Comment and let me know and thanks for reading!
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About averageguysguidetobeer

Hi, I'm Colin, I love a good hoppy IPA, but I can find immense enjoyment in a solid session beer, imperial stout, quadrupel or a nostalgic beer from my past.


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