2013: The Year of Beer!

Yesterday I tweeted (from @BeaumontDrinks) that 2013 is going to be a year of beer, and I wasn’t just talking about my personal drinking patterns. As much as the past couple of years have astounded many people with the growth shown by craft brewing world-wide, I believe the coming year will be even more extraordinary. Here’s why:

–          In case you missed the deal, in 2012 the mega-resto company Darden (Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among others) bought out the expanding beer bar chain, Yard House. This is a growing group of bar-restaurants that feature upwards of one hundred taps per location! That’s a pretty massive commitment to beer by a very mainstream restaurant company.

–          The U.K. has topped 1,000 breweries, according to CAMRA, and they’re selling more than just cask-conditioned ale. After years (and years and years) of British Isles brew being polarized between cask and lager, new options like quality keg and interesting bottles are coming to the fore, and the public is reacting with great interest.

–          Excitement over craft beer is growing exponentially in Italy, conveniently coinciding with one of the greatest and fastest increases in quality I’ve witnessed anywhere. I expect to hear a lot more from Italian craft breweries in the coming year. (Note to North Americans: Some of the best Italian craft breweries are ones you’ve not even heard about yet!)

–          Also flattening out the learning curve are many breweries in Brazil, the numbers and quality of which are growing quite steadily. They’ve still a ways to go and a number of barriers to overcome, but Brazilian craft beer is definitely on the rise.

–          Poland and northern France. Pay attention; things are happening fast.

–          From one sole region of significant craft beer interest – first B.C., then Québec – Canada now boasts craft brewing excitement coast to coast. The Prairies are still somewhat lacking, with a handful of exceptions, and Newfoundland has a ways to go, but the brewing scene in general is heating up from Vancouver Island to PEI.

–          Traditional brewing powers Belgium and the Czech Republic, having sat on their laurels for perhaps a little too long, are both definitely back in the game with new breweries, new beers from older breweries and plenty of enthusiasm for new ideas. Plus, you know, those grand old mainstays that we sometimes take too much for granted.

–          New Zealand and its hops, plus Australia and its general disinclination to be bested at anything by New Zealand, should assure that Australasia continues to heat up in the foreseeable future.

–          China: A massive nation just dipping its little toe into the craft beer swimming pool.

Even if only half of the above starts to realize its potential in 2013, or three-quarters comes to only lukewarm fruition, it will be enough to ensure that craft beer is one of the most talked-about and happily consumed factors on the global food and drink scene in the coming year. Enjoy!

Note: Beginning tomorrow, I will start posting my annual “Best of” list for 2012, beginning with a tie for my pick of the best beer place of the year.  

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