I call them Pregnant Panda Beers. Today many breweries are releasing new beers capable of satisfying the cravings of a pregnant panda bear. A study just revealed that last year a whopping 27 percent of all new beers were “flavored beer.” Yes, all beer has flavor (the good stuff, anyway), but I’m talking about specially flavored beers, like Pineapple IPA, Habanero Stout, Pumpkin Porter, and Watermelon Gose.
According to the report from market research firm Mintel, women between the ages of 22 and 34 were the most avid consumers of flavored beers. I should point out that I came up with the term pregnant panda beer before I knew millennial women were driving the trend. No disrespect or sexist innuendo intended. It makes me happy to learn that enough young women are enjoying beer that it is helping drive a trend.
I would never presume to tell people what they should and shouldn’t drink, and I enjoy many of these flavored beers myself, I just worry that some people are forgetting that beer can taste pretty damn good when it tastes like beer, and I’m pretty sure that some of these flavored beers are just fashionable gimmicks. Some breweries are more concerned with the name on the label than the flavor in the bottle. Not all, but some. It’s not new in the beer world.
I am not exactly surprised by the Pregnant Panda Beer trend. Our collective craving for more flavor has driven the massive spike in IPA’s popularity. Hops, the most-prominent feature of a good IPA, add a wide variety of flavors to beer, ranging from floral to earthy, spicy to citrusy, and more. So I guess this flavored beer trend is just another part of the quest for more, and more-unexpected, flavors in beer.
I suppose that’s all fine, but next time you order a Pregnant Panda Beer—say, a delicious Wheatgrass and Prickly Pear Pale Ale infused with peach puree and rosewater—just remember that beer that tastes like beer is still pretty damn good.