So, the festivities are nearly done; the leftover turkey has been binned, the tinsel is down and the fight against Dry January has well and truly kicked off. https://www.tryanuary.com/
But what will 2018 bring us in the beer world? The old adage "there's nothing new under the sun" definitely applies to beer, as often the biggest new thing is a re-hash or different spin on something that has been done many moons ago. (Yes I'm looking at you Opaque Beer. Until the invention of widely available, good quality glassware, all beer was like you!)
So here's a few speculative thoughts about what trends we might be seeing during the next 12 months.
Lower ABV Beers - Already championed by the Table Beers produced by many brewers (famously The Kernel, but also about to get in on the action, one of my local brewers Mad Squirrel).
Although in part they're a kickback against the proliferation of "Double this and Imperial that", these beers are still packed with aroma and flavour. The beauty being they are quaffable and thirst quenching without the prospect of having to summon paramedic attention after 3 or 4.
More Complex British Sours - I've really struggled with a most of the one dimensional kettle sours that have proliferated over the last couple of years. A lot of the younger beer drinkers I know seem to love them, but news is filtering through of British brewers playing a longer game and using approximations of the spontaneous fermentation used in the production of Lambic beer.
These beers can take a year to 18 months to produce, but yield a wonderful, complex sour end product.
Cryo Hops - Cryogenically removing just the lupulin glands from hop cones leads to a clean, efficient hop addition process and the Yakima Valley hop growers seem to be embracing the process as a way to add value to their product.
A few UK brewers have been using Cryo Hops in their beers, most notably Cloudwater and that trend is sure to continue into 2018 as long as supplies can be secured.
Continued Haze - The current obsession with hazy and even completely opaque beers will almost certainly continue into the year ahead. Moreover, this may be the year where what is seen by many as a fad, actually comes of age and obtains broader acceptance.
I'd like to think that NEIPAs and other hazy beers are brewed primarily for aroma, mouthfeel and flavour; the murk just being an acceptable by product of the use of low flocculating yeast strains, loads of hops and adjunct grains like oats. Once ingredients are added to beer just to make it hazy (a LOT of homebrewers are doing this), then I think the essence of the idea is lost.
So there are a few predictions for 2018. Bearing in mind it's my first go, let's see how many I get right! Comments welcome below...
Happy New Year and don't forget to support your local independent breweries and pubs during January!