Predictions From World of Beer and the Wench

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.

My predictions:

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.

14 Replies to “Predictions From World of Beer and the Wench”

  1. Hope your third one leads to Rolling Rock being sold cheap to City Brewing, who will bring it back home to Latrobe. Not cuz I drink a lot of Rock anymore — used to, in college days — but because I’m a Pennsylvanian and would love to see that place thrive again.

  2. InBev didn’t want the brand in the first place, and I doubt they want it any more now that they’re ABIB. I expect there is a good chance of that coming to pass, Lew.

  3. Stephen have you noticed a significant increase in saisons and similar coming out of US breweries the last few years? It seems like there are a lot more out there, or perhaps I am just becoming more aware of them.

  4. The start of a backlash? What does that mean?

    I certainly have a rooting interest in an overall appreciation of hops (beyond brewing and drinking beers in which only bitterness units matter), but if anything it seems that as beer gains attention beyond beer-focused publications you could see a headline that declares 2011 “The Year of the IPA.”

    The New Belgium and Samuel Adams brands (balanced by my standards, “bland” and “intense” by others) that were introduced just last year are still getting established. The growth of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo is pretty amazing – doubly so since it hasn’t cut into Pale Ale at all – even though constrained by production considerations.

    Probably good for sales of “Hops and Glory” and certainly for the IPA book by Mitch Steele and Steve Wagner (due in September).

    1. Maybe I should have titled that one “An Appreciation of Balance,” Stan. My suggestion is not that IPAs are going away any time soon – god, I hope not! — but that the “hops good, more hops better, excessive and painfully bitter hops best” ethos might have already hit its peak.

      1. I hope you are right Stephen, but based on what homebrewers locally and brewers are doing I am not convinced ‘balance’ will be better received.

        As for the German ‘re-birth’ any specific stories or examples you can cite, I am curious. (Even in German would be ok)

        1. So far it’s just murmurings heard here and there, Thomas. When I see something tangible about Germany, I’ll be sure to post it, though.

  5. Personally, I would hope that those “extreme” hops would get HIV and die. They are to beer what pain is to joy. Yes, beers should be balanced (is that really news to anyone?) and the same applies to sugar beers.

      1. Ironically, your reply is a near-perfect description of the taste sensation of these hops! (See what Velky Al wrote for a more general description.)

  6. Here was one of the ones I developed….

    Traditional Pale Styles Turned Black

    In 2010, the Brewers Association added the Black IPA to the official list of beer styles. The 2010 Great American Beer Festival witnessed the first ever judging of the new style, setting the style guidelines for the category.

    The IPA is not the first traditionally pale style to go black. Brewers around the world have been experimenting with dark specialty malts in other pale styles like the lager and the saison. In 2011, I suggest we’ll see a lot more brewers going “black” … and you know what they say…

    1. No, I’m afraid I don’t “know what they say”. That beer is becoming a fashion accessory? No more worries about your top clashing with the glass of beer in your hand?

      Can we expect more colours in 2011? I mean, blonde and black are kind of limiting, aren’t they?

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