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The next trend in craft beer

Be it good or bad, craft beer has always had trends that a lot of breweries/drinkers like to follow. Once the initial novelty of craft beer wore off IPA’s seemed to the stage. The hoppier the better. And while that still may be true for some drinkers, I think that most have adjusted themselves to enjoy a balanced hoppy beer over a hop-bomb any day.

In my mind the next “big” thing has been oaked beers. While putting beer in oak casks has been around for hundreds of years, it was the thing to do. There were/are tons of beers that are now oak conditions. While I do like some of the characteristics that oak can add to a beer, it seems like moreover the oak barrel is there to put a “unique” spin on the beer. I am sure there have been plenty of other trends that I have missed, but I’ve only been in the craft beer world for three years now, so those trends may not of been as obvious to me.

In my mind the up and coming trend in craft beer is sour beers. I see more and more news/press releases about sour beers than ever before. It seems like everyone is starting to experiment in them. I really haven’t ever enjoyed the whole sour thing, but I can see why people enjoy it. Sour beers have also been around for hundreds of years, but it seems that a lot of craft brewers are just now taking their first steps into the style. I am all for experimentation in beer and I hope that American Craft Brewers keep turning out some of the finest beers in the world, but I want brewers to be themselves and make quality beers that don’t play towards trends.

What to expect from a beer

When I was new into the craft beer scene I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. There are so many choices that it is a bit overwhelming. There are also a lot of random names that appear over and over again on bottles of beer that seem to give some type of classification. Pale Ale, Stout, Porter, Lager, these words appear on a lot of beer labels after the actual name of the beer. If you don’t know what they mean, you might be getting into something that you don’t want or like.

While there are a lot of names, beer is pretty simple. Like wine, beer is broken down into styles. Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Champagne are all different types of wine, and you have an idea of what to expect when you hear them. The same follows through for beer. Hell, dogs are even classified and you know what to expect from one breed to another. Like wine, beer is basically broken down into to main categories where everything else stems from. In the wine world, white or red are the start of the branching out. In the beer world, you fall under lager and ale.

Unlike the wine world (at least in my experience), an ale can taste like a lager and a lager can taste like a beer. These two classifications simple refer to the type of yeast that was used in making the beer. In general ales ferment at a higher temperature, take less like to ferment, and also ferment on the top of the beer. Lager yeast is the exact opposite, they like lower temperatures, long fermentation times, and ferment on the bottom of the beer.

So knowing a lager from an ale might help you with a few things, but not a whole lot. Out of those two main branches of the beer world grows a much fuller tree. I’m not going to address what each style is right now as that would take a long time to complete, but when looking at a beer, the style tells you what to expect from the beer. When you see stout on a label, you expect a thick, dark colored beer with a tan head that is going to be smooth and full of roasty flavors. If you were expecting to get something like that out of a pilsner, you are sadly mistaken. I am going to be doing a “series” on beer styles and explore each one and give recommendations on good examples of each style. But just remember that when you want to know what to expect from a beer, look at the style and you will have a much deeper understanding of what you will be tasting.