As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself looking back at the past year’s events and pondering the future, especially as it relates to beer. I take my work as a beer writer very seriously. I’m a card-carrying member of the Society of Professional Journalists, after all. As such, I have an obligation to the community that I serve. In 2017 I doubled-down on my efforts and spent countless hours inventing stories out of thin air to irresponsibly share with my readers for the sole purpose of benefiting the beers, breweries and beer events of which I approve. Wow, if felt good to get that off my chest. Still, occasionally it is nice to put professionalism and journalistic integrity aside and actually tell the truth, which is what I aim to do here.
Below, I share my honest opinions about what I see coming in 2018 for the world of beer. I do not claim to be a beer prophet, but I am always right about these things. Believe me, I’m good at this. Really great.
New England Style Pilsner – A lot of breweries will begin releasing hazy, hoppy versions of this European classic. Expect to hear a lot of heated, deeply researched, really important debates about whether it should be called North Eastern Style Pilsner or New England Style Pilsner. Some purists will argue that it’s an abomination, that by its very nature Pilsner is supposed to be sparkling and clear, but as we all know, Abomination® is a registered trademark, so those nay-saying ninnies will be served cease and desist letters. All praise the haze!
Bourbon Barrel Gose – Every single other type of beer in the world has been aged in bourbon barrels, so why not Gose? My guess is that it will be a Portland brewery that releases the first Bourbon Barrel Gose of 2018. Many others will follow. By year’s end it will become the most popular style of craft beer in America, especially among the most erudite, urbane beer connoisseurs. Some people will not like it, but that’s because they are not sophisticated enough to appreciate a complex character reminiscent of sour, kelp-infused whiskey. Bourbon Barrel Gose will prove that you should never leave well enough alone and that you can never take a good thing too far.
Pastry Beers – 2017 will be remembered as the year of the donut beer. Dropping a couple dozen Krispy Kreme donuts into the mash, as two breweries in Florida gained much attention for doing in 2017, might have been cool last year, but it is not going to cut the mustard in 2018. (Mmmm. Mustard beer.) Expect to see breweries experiment with other types of pastries, like macaron, baklava, croquembouche, and strudel. It is only a matter of time before someone brews the world’s first New England Style Profiterole Pilsner. I’m guessing it will be Brew Dogs, Dogfish Head, or one of those other dog breweries.
Industry Realignment – As the craft beer industry matures and the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded, a lot of breweries are finding new, innovative approaches to the business of brewing beer. It’s a trend that started in 2017, but I predict that 2018 will see more and more breweries stop making beer. They will still be breweries because they will still have taprooms, and because they will still have their names on beer labels, but they will not actually brew any beer. The idea that a brewery should brew its own beer in order to call itself a brewery is soooo 2016. I predict that by the end of 2018 all craft beer in Washington will be brewed at one brewing facility, probably in Tukwila, but there will still be nearly 400 breweries in the state.
Shameless Brewing – Looking around at the larger, non-beer world, it seems obvious that our society has entered the Post-Shame Era. For 2018, I predict that bold-faced shamelessness will find its way into the brewing industry. An increasing number of breweries will hang fake GABF medals on the walls of their tasting rooms. When the media criticizes them, exposing the fact their IPA never won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, these breweries will not apologize or admit that they’ve done anything wrong. They will not feel or express any shame. Supporters of these breweries will dig their heels in, ostracizing and criticizing beer bloggers for recklessly exposing the truth.
Putting the ass back in Ass Clown – In 2017, one of the hottest topics discussed here on the blog, and on other blogs as well, was bad brewery names. That is, brewery names that are unpleasant, off-putting, or just plain offensive. I predict that in 2018 breweries will go one step further and produce unpleasant, off-putting, and just plain offensive beers to match their names. Dogfish Head Brewing will lead the way, producing a beer that contains real dogfish heads. It is just a matter of time before Bog Water Brewing truly starts brewing with bog water. And… drum roll please… I predict that in 2018 Ass Clown Brewing will finally introduce a beer that contains real clown asses.
This is beer. It’s not supposed to be fun – My final prediction for beer in 2018 is a serious and somber one. Once upon a time, beer was associated with words like hobby, recreation, camaraderie, and fun, but those days are long gone. It’s time to rebuke anyone who takes the name of beer in vain. There’s no place for jokes, humor, puns or satire in the world of beer. This is serious stuff and it is time we start treating it as such. I mean, really. Who do these jokers think they are? Bunch of ass clowns, if you ask me.
So there you have it. Sounds like 2018 will be one helluva year.