Fruited sours are on the rise and "hazebomb" IPAs are here to stay, so where will this wild craft beer roller coaster ride take the beer scene in 2019? It’s hard to say for sure, because everyone has their own opinion.
Some are calling for a clear beer renaissance, others predict the bubble is going to burst and all of this fun is going to end. To gauge exactly what’s going to happen in craft beer this year, I asked the opinion of five local brewery insiders.
Matt Kahn, owner, Big Ditch Brewing: “I wouldn't mind seeing trends shift toward easier drinking beers like lagers. The lines are becoming blurred – beer drinkers don't want their beer to necessarily taste like beer. Juicy IPAs will continue to be king and fruited sours will continue to be very popular. Expect to find more lactose in beer as well.
"I also think we are very close to a Western New York brewery, or perhaps the Western New York region, receiving some well overdue national attention.”
Kelly Krupski, owner, New York Beer Project: “My thought for 2019-2020 is that Western New York breweries will put out a lot of really juicy fresh IPAs that are amazing for the IPA lover. Another prevalent trend is, everyone wants to know exactly what goes into their food and drink these days, and that includes their craft beer.”
[Related: On the other side, gateway beers for craft-beer curious]
Jeff Ware, owner, Resurgence Brewing: “Companies will continue to diversify. As the market continues to saturate, everyone will be looking for the next 'it' beverage. I think you will see adjunct offerings that cater to consumers' love of sweet beverages.
Heavily fruited sours, pastry beers and fruited/sweetened IPAs will have their hay day in 2019 with a backlash in 2020. We’ll also see clean lager/pilsner styles gaining favor. I think you see a lot more locally packaged beer this year as young breweries start to mature a bit.”
Ethan Cox, president, Community Beer Works: “Nationally, we're going to see some high-profile closings this year, possibly some fairly well-known, large companies. Locally, we're going to see more new breweries and brewery-expansions. Stylistically, I don't see anything especially groundbreaking happening.
"Light lagers will continue to displace IPAs, we'll see continued interest in New England-style, fruited/soured IPAs, and even brut IPAs will hang out for a bit. I hope wild, spontaneously fermented beers continue to thrive. Two things that won't make waves: dark lagers and cask beer, alas.”
Chris Herr, head brewer, Pearl Street/Lafayette/RiverWorks: “I think we're going to see the continuation of small craft breweries opening and serving almost exclusively in house or very small distribution footprint. Consumer’s interest will become increasingly important to legislation.
"I don't think it will be long before we see low carb IPAs, but I also think the NEIPA trend is going to keep going forward. I think the long-term styles (barrel aged stouts, sours, etc.) will continue to have their place, but won't make up major market share.”
[Related: Chris Herr chimes in on healthy beers]