Well, okay, just from World of Beer. A pingback from the Wench’s blog this morning informs me that not only is she sick as a dog, but also now gainfully employed by Bison Organic Beer, which suggests to me that I won’t be getting any predictions from her any time soon. (And, sadly, neither will she be contributing to this space again any time soon, since the WoB anti-conflict of interest policy precludes any receipt of monies from breweries or distilleries or importers. Sorry, Wenchie.)
In deference to her illness, however, and celebration of her new-found stability, I will refrain from the public humiliation of the Wench in the form of made-up predictions, which I fully intended to do on her behalf, and present instead only my own, now month-old prognostications for 2011.
An Easing of the Hops Craze: It will come as a shock to no one that craft brewers in North America and beyond have been going mad for hops of late, producing “double,” “triple” and even, I seem to recall reading lately, “quadruple” IPAs. Well, in 2011 I suggest that we’ll see the start of an anti-ultra-hoppy backlash, with greater appreciation of balance and nuance coming slowly to the fore. Not that it will happen all at once or eclipse high-intensity IPAs any time soon, but a seed will slowly begin to take root.
The Re-Emergence of Germany: For the past few years, the dominant European beer countries have been old powers like the U.K. and Belgium, and new blood such as Italy and the Scandinavian states. In 2011, however, I suggest we’ll witness renewed interest in what’s happening in Germany, as new breweries open – yes, it’s actually happening, after years of nothing but closures – and German beer culture begins to be redefined. I’m certainly not sure what form it will take – I don’t think anyone is – but something is gestating over there and it will be interesting to witness what comes of it.
More Branding Focus for the Big Brewers: Led by the example of Anheuser-Busch InBev, I expect that the world’s largest breweries will begin jettisoning marginal brands, or allowing them to slowly die of their own accord, so that they might focus more intently on a core range of brands. Many of these ignored or smothered old brews will simply disappear, but others I expect will be sold to smaller breweries that will market them with imagery that veritably oozes nostalgia.