Beer Trend Predictions for 2014
Like American cheesemakers, American brewers aren't content to sit back and remake old classics year after year. Instead they craft American originals, blend the lines that separate styles, and bring beers from history back into our modern lives. Rather than simply recap what's hot now in the beer world, we thought we'd try to predict the trends of next year. Here's what the culture crew thinks will be hot in 2014.
alcoholic ginger beers
Ginger beer has been a staple in American craft soda for some time, but recently, British beer enthusiasts have rocketed alcoholic ginger beers to the top of the beer charts. British importers and local brewers alike are increasingly producing beers with the honey-tinged, spicy earthiness of ginger. These beers are a refreshing beverage to bring to a picnic or early-evening cocktail party.
TRY: Crabbies Ginger Beer, the most popular ginger beer in England
Similar to sourdough breads, traditional sour beers get their tart flavor from a fermentation that allows wild yeasts to permeate the brew. Modern brewers have to abide by more sanitary standards and often incorporate fruits or specific bacteria to get that same sour taste. Sour beers are a pungent counterpoint to the more popular double-triple-continuously-hopped IPAs, but a pint may be too much for palates unaccustomed to their acidity.
TRY: Cascade Kriek Ale, a mildly sweet sour ale
Smoked beers get their name and distinctive flavor from malts that have been dried over an open flame as opposed to the more common kiln-dried malts. These flavorful beers often have a high alcohol content and pair well with equally strong cheeses. Smoked malts were the most common form of curing malts until the 18th century, but with the rise of vintage hobbies like blacksmithing and straight razor shaving, these full-bodied beauties are prime for a comeback.
TRY: Smoking Wood Rye Barrel Aged by The Bruery, a hearty rye
These brews are the result of a fine alchemy in which roughly half the fermentable sugars come from wine grapes and the other half from grains, resulting in an alcohol content somewhere between the two. Brewers add wine to a variety of ales from whitbiers to IPAs, so picture your favorite style with additional fruit and oak accents. These have been growing in popularity since Allagash released the Red & White in 2006, and 2012 saw some of the big brewers start to get in on the game too.
TRY: Dogfish Head Noble Rot, a white wine/pilsner blend
Japanese and Japanese-inspired beers
These beers are so much more than the bland Japanese answer to Budweiser you usually find at sushi restaurants. Japanese beers used to be primarily dry and light, but craft breweries are now producing beers across the spectrum. Many are rice-based beers, which means that not only are they low on gluten (although not necessarily gluten-free), they have a more subtle flavor than the rest of the beers on this list. Try one at a trendy ramen shop or pair with foods with a strong umami flavor.
TRY: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, a mild sake flavor and a bottle emblazoned with a cute red owl