If you ask your local brewmaster what’s happening in beer right now - prepare for a long conversation. From berries and fungus, to innovative barrel-aging and more low-cal brews, get ready to be intrigued and to give something new (and tasty) a try. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting and unexpected 2020 beer trends and predictions from those who know best: our brewers.
“Blueberry is the flavor of the year so I’m interested to see how many beers take the leap. Oats are also big now overall, and I expect to see them get more attention from brewers, beyond the traditional oatmeal stout. Everyone is also getting in on ‘better for you’ low- and no- calorie options, like mid-strength hazy IPAs. I also think we might see the radler make a comeback in a new low-calorie, seltzer-like format.” - Charles Nouwen, Advanced Cicerone and AB InBev’s Head of Passion for Beer.
“After polling our consumers on what they wanted most, we have a few new experimental products in the works, including a barley wine aging in whiskey, tequila and rum barrels, and a sour beer with a strong aroma and milder taste. We’re also testing out an easy drinking beer with ‘nutraceutical’ properties that’s also low alcohol, low calorie and gluten-free.” - Andrea Lecchini, Head Brewer, Birra del Borgo – Borgorose, Italy
“At 10 Barrel we’re deep diving into Mountain IPAs that have the fruitiness of a hazy, but the clean, snappy, bitter finish of a west Coast IPA. We’re also trying out ‘terpene’ botanicals to create a clean-drinking beer with a cannabis-influenced nose and soon we’ll release a high-end sour made of traditional Old Bruin fermented for three years with wild yeasts and aged for a year in pinot noir barrels with syrah grapes.” – Jimmy Seifrit, Senior Brewmaster, 10 Barrel Brewing Co. – Bend, Oregon
“Nearly half of drinking occasions in Canada are related to food and meals. So I recently collaborated with a chef and brewmaster on Accent Bold (Corsé) and Accent Bright (Vif), a series of complex yet approachable beers designed for pairing with a meal at home. I think we’ll surely see more brewers creating beers with pairings in mind this year.” - Michelle Tham, Certified Cicerone and Head of Education, Labatt Breweries – Toronto, Canada
“We’re enhancing berries - including Patagonian elderberries, strawberries, maqui and calafate – and continuing to innovate using local Mapuche, Traful and Nahuel hops, as well as other experimental varieties, like Pomelo and Mapuchosa. Our barrel-aging program is also expanding with small batches of rarities, including a fruit lambic aged in barrels made from lenga beech trees.” - Valeria Valenzuela, Cerveza Patagonia – Rio Negro, Argentina
“Right now I’m fascinated with the aspergillus oryzae fungus usually associated with sake brewing. It pops up with different flavors, culinary uses (think pickles) and forms all throughout East Asia. It’s so delicious—there’s just too much to learn here to ever get bored with it. There are many unexplored synergies between these ingredients, tradition and modern beer brewing.” – Andrew Stadnyk, AB InBev Global Innovation Brewer, 24th Street Hops - New York City, New York
“I think we’ll see even more support for people creating locally. We’re pretty proud of the beer, cider and crafter scene here in southwest Michigan, so we provide space for our neighbors to sell their locally made goods and we invite our apple farmers to trivia nights so our guests can meet everyone involved in our products, from tree to taste.” – Mike “Stoney” Stoneburg, QA Manager, Virtue Cider – Fennville, Michigan