What are the Latest Trends in Brewing?

In the coming months, I’m planning to do a mini-presentation for my homebrew club about what is hot and trendy in brewing. This seems a natural fit for me, as I have restlessly yet to brew the same beer twice, and homebrewers are on the cutting edge of brewing. Sure, the majority of beer drinkers might find out about the latest trend from a commercial example, but it was likely that a homebrewer did it first since he or she can afford to pour out 5 gallons of beer if the elements and process go horribly and undrinkably wrong.

So I’m crowd sourcing now. Leave a comment at the end of this post and tell me what you are seeing as the latest trend in brewing. Are Black IPAs still a hot trend, or have they faded? We all talk about session beers becoming the next big thing, but they haven’t yet. At least not like sours or oak aging have. Using rye in beers became popular for a time, but is that a trend? Using New Zealand and Australian hops has been a fun experiment for many brewers, too, lately.

And I am straying from the word “new” in this post because I’m not sure there is truly anything “new” in the brewing world.  The Gose has made a comeback, but it probably would be better described as a rediscovery than anything new. But I definitely encourage the return of older, or simply forgotten, styles to popularity.

Frankly, brewing has become very easy with our highly modified grains, and high alpha hops, and highly efficient brewing equipment.  Perhaps the latest trend is making beer difficult to make again. Decoctions and turbid mashes don’t make your brew days any easier or shorter. We are bringing back the bacteria and wild yeasts that brewers worked so hard to eliminate over the years with a vengeance, too.

What say you? What are the current trends in beer? What will they be tomorrow? Leave a comment please, and thanks.


23 Responses to “What are the Latest Trends in Brewing?”

  • Chris Says:

    Brewing styles aside, I think the biggest trend in brewing is the homebrewers discovery of the whirlpool hop addition. With beer like Union Jack, Blind Pig and others focusing on this additional process has allowed homebrewers to recreate the massive hop flavors without bittering the base beer. This is one of the only things that big brewers have passed on to the homebrewing crowd. The fact that I can make a session pale at 4.2% then load it with citra during the whirlpool. This creates a beer that is unmatched 2 years ago on the homebrew level.

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Chris – That is a great point. Whirlpooling, and the late hop-bursting of beers in general, has been a game changer in terms of adding hop aroma and flavor. If anything, it makes more sense for homebrewers to do it because the cost of all those late hops is huge to a commercial brewery and relatively small for you and me. Great call.

  • Robert Says:

    The trends I see on the West Coast continue (so if continues it may not be a trend) to be the experimentation with “new” flavor elements. People are still in the mode of “looking for the next cool idea”. Whether it’s California Common aged in Chardonnay barrels or soured Hefe, people just want to try it. Good, Bad or marginal people flock to local breweries to try these experimental brews.

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Thanks, Robert. And whether or not these new trends stick isn’t probably the question. Drinkers want to be challenged with new flavors and combinations. Just experimenting and playing with beer IS the point. And barrels are changing, too. Great point. At first, it just seemed to be wine and bourbon barrels, but now we’ve gotten to rum and port barrels. Cool and interesting stuff.

  • Ryan Ritter Says:

    My home brew club chipped together to by some big ol’ barrels, then we each brewed 5 gallons of the same recipe to fill each. Great way to make our own barrel-aged beers and jump on that trend – but in a not-very-expensive way.

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Good call, Ryan. My homebrew club bought a bourbon barrel recently, but the first batch quickly went from a bourbon barrel imperial porter to a sour imperial porter. I plan to do a post soon on the preparing a barrel….not that I can back it up. Thanks.

  • Tom Wallace Says:

    Mr. Barlow,

    I believe the newest trend is rediscovering old trends. The latest fads seem to be in reviving old styles and long-dead recipes and techniques (as you mentioned with Gose). Please dissect why the old and long dead is suddenly new and why homebrew geeks are intent on reviving style dinosaurs. What say you? Zombie styles?

    “Brains . . .”

    TW

  • Richard Says:

    Brew in a bag, maybe? The only reason I say that is that I hear people doing it even when they don’t have water use concerns.

    And I agree with Tom, what’s old is new again. I see gruit beers, and I’m interesting in trying a hopless beer with other herbs, myself.

  • GoodBeerNut Says:

    A lot of people are doing brew in a bag. Also hearing bits and pieces about the No Chill method.

  • the idoit Says:

    I think a trend that is catching on is that of using a variety of spices & herbs in brewing. From the use of rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus (Jolly Pumpkin IO Baudelaire) to spruce tips (Harpoon Vermont Spruce Tip Ale), brewers are experimenting to find subtleties that add bold character to their brews. I have personally been trying to tinker with perfecting a recipe for a mint pale ale. With herbs and spices, the sky is the limit!

  • Ursa Major Says:

    Possible Additions to the Currently Trendy List:
    1) Canned beer
    2) Brewery collaborations
    3) Cask conditioned ales-of-any-sort & beer engines at your fancy Local
    4) Black anything
    5) Homebrew competitions (as evidenced by the NHCs popularity)
    6) Single malt, single hop, and yeast variation beers
    7) Corked and Capped “reserves” and ultra-limited batches

  • Jeff Crane Says:

    I actually think a big new trend is Brett Only beers. With a commercial brewery, Crooked Stave, producing quite a few and other breweries doing likewise.

    Taking this new trend even further, I think brewing beers with new yeast strains that have never been used before either as a primary strain like many Brett beers or harvested and isolated from commercial dregs or from spontaneous fermentations.

    There are many homebrewers that are advancing home yeast labs to make this possible like http://sciencebrewer.com, http://dcylab.wordpress.com, or http://bkyeast.wordpress.com.

    I just brewed a 100% Brett Drie / 100% Nelson hops beer this past month and it is one of the most interesting beers I’ve tasted, extremely fruity and pretty clean.
    http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2012/05/brett-series-extra-special-bretter.html

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Thanks, Jeff. Let me know how the 100% Brett beer goes. Great post.

    I actually have a 100% Brett IPA is almost done fermenting right now. I was inspired to do so after going back and forth with Chad from Crooked Stave in emails for a few weeks. He’s the real deal in terms of brett knowledge and kindness. I built the malt bill around his suggestions, and I promised to send him a bottle of whatever comes of the experiment. For better or worse.

    Right now, it is very, very clean and it fermented very quickly. It took a 1.070 IPA down to 1.012 in about 72 hours, which is surprising to folks who’ve never used it a primary yeast. I’m expecting it to stop around the 1.008 mark.

    Unfortunately, I could only get Brett B in time for the brewday, so there wasn’t a ton of diversity in my pitch. (And it is rare to find commercial dregs of Brett that don’t also include Lacto and Pedio.) But the White Labs Brett B Trois comes out next week and I’m looking forward to using that Drie strain in a few future 100% Brett brews this summer. Thanks for the comment, and let’s talk about results and impressions sometime.

    Jamey

  • Jeff Crane Says:

    I concur on Chad being very open and helpful.

    That is quite some attenuation on the IPA, I might have to see if I can test the limits of my Brett Drie strain.

    I think you will like the strain very much. My brew buddy is the one who gave it to White Labs almost 1.5 year ago. If you have a hard time getting it or don’t want to pay for it, I’d be happy to send you a vial. I will have pretty big yeast cake from this last batch.

    Just email me if you’re interested.
    Jeffrey.E.Crane at gmail.com

  • David Levine Says:

    I’m seeing a lack of loyalty with all of the different crafts popping up…with an app like untappd, I know I’m more willing to try something new than stay loyal to one brew…

  • Third Street Brewhouse Says:

    Definitely a trend in big companies buying small local breweries. I saw somewhere that coca-cola bought a small brewery and shipped the beer in soda trucks for a more efficient distribution system.

  • Ben Quinn Says:

    The biggest trend I’m happy to say seems to be homebrewing in general.
    That being said I would also say:
    -canned beer
    -whirlpool hop additions
    -barrel aging
    -meads

  • FireBrewer Says:

    Late to the party, I know, but I have noticed a few:

    -100% brett beers
    -chili, jalapeno, or other with a porter/stout base
    -rye anything
    -BIAB

    Don’t agree so much with whirlpool additions. Jamil came up with a whirlpool immersion chiller probably 5 years ago and part of it was adding hops. Resurgence maybe?

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    @FireBrewer Nice.

    Yeah, I can see the whirlpool additions as not be a hot, new thing. I suppose it is a piece of the larger trend of hop-bursting and cramming every last bit of hop flavor and aroma into a beer.

    Thanks.

  • Chad Says:

    With the season changing I would imagine that spice and pumpkin beers are going to be in style. Frankly I can’t wait! Pumpkin Ales are some of my favorite beers.

  • kyler Says:

    Just found your blog, good read. I may be a little late, but I wanted to contribute nonetheless. I definitely think barrels and the application of different types of wood are trending now. People are looking for more and more obscure barrel types now (calvados, apple brandy, local distilleries, etc.). Sour/wild/brett beers are popular now (GABF is a great example) but working at a homebrew shop, I’ve noticed one of the more popular trends right now is sourcing and using local ingredients (honey, maple syrup, malt, hops, etc.) in homebrewed batches. One of my personal hobbies is sourcing the newest/scarcest varieties of hops (just got some Aramis, Meridian, Polaris, Wakatu, HBC 342) and experimenting with them. Hope that helps!

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Kyler – Nice. Thanks for joining in.

    I find new hops are pretty exciting. How are you sourcing them? (If you don’t mind me asking…)

  • kyler Says:

    I work at Brooklyn Homebrew and we’ll usually get e-mails from suppliers like LD Carlson or Crosby & Baker about upcoming hop crops. Other than that, by “sourcing” I meant that I scour the internet looking for new hop varietals and buy them when I see them! Farmhouse Brewing Supply has some cool new hops, check’em out.

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