A Look Back at Beer in ’08 and a Look Ahead to ’09

In addition to my own resolutions, at the end of 2007 I also made some predictions for the beer industry as a whole in 2008. And I fared much better with those than I did with my own resolutions. My three predictions were:

  1. The price of beer will go up
  2. There will be more breweries “going green”
  3. The giant breweries will mimic the little guys

While to some all three predictions may have been a bit obvious, all three came to fruition. (1) In part because of the on-going “hop crisis”, in part because of the price of fuel for most of ’08, and in part because of the economic slump that plagued the last few months of the year, The price of beer has definitely spiked. While there are still plenty of great beers available at affordable prices, there are definitely a few beers out there which I would otherwise love to try that I just can’t afford the way things are right now. I had worried that there might be a bit of an exodus from Craft Beer for cheaper imbibes but, true to form, Craft Beer’s popularity sky rocketed this year, as it has every year in recent memory.

(2) I didn’t read about as many breweries making sustainability strides this year as I had in ’07 (or as I expected to) but there were certainly still some, and some pretty big moves. Most notably, the news that came in October that Smuttynose Brewing is moving to a new location in Hampton, NH — a location which, according to brewery owner Peter Egelston will,

meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification qualification. Some “green” technology that Egelston is considering includes the use of rainwater in plumbing and a co-generation power source, which is the use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and heat.

(3) Three Words: Budweiser American Ale. A beer which the commercials describe as “A top-fermented ale” (no shit, ya don’t say…) with a “strong malt character” and “dry-hopped with cascade hops for a noticably citrus aroma”; the website even says very boldly that Budwiser American Ale “has a microbrew taste”. And, of course, true to Budweiser form, they’ve spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns trying to convince the American public that the beer is just like all those weird little craft beers which have been slowly stealing A-B’s marketshare for years.

Beer predictions for 2009

So what will 2009 have in store for the world of beer? I think certainly more of the same: It’s hard to ignore the national trend toward sustainability and “going green” in every industry; I think the brewing industry will new years 2009continue to follow suit.

  1. I think we’ve seen the peak in beer prices and they will begin to fall sometime in 2009. The  hop crisis seems to at least be under control, if not fading into non-existance; fuel prices are WAY down; and the economic crisis itself can’t last forever… can it?
  2. Beer & Food Pairing will continue to grow. In fact, Oregon-based Flavor & The Menu magazine listed Beer and Food pairing as their Top Culinary trend for 2009. Saying,

    “Now that beer is the new wine, thanks to a flood of new craft beer products and imports, chefs are creating menus that match beer lists in their complexity and casual-yet-sophisticated approach to pub food. Beyond the usual pretzels and peanuts, these post-modern pub menus present hearty food that’s designed to pair with beer.”

  3. More breweries will brew “bigger” beers. It’s started already, with Shipyard Brewing releasing the first two beers of the Pugsley Signature Series — an imperial porter and a barleywine — in November of ’08. And beginning in February 2009, Sam Adams will also begin a new imperial series, released in limited edition 4-packs. The series reportedly will include an Imperial White Ale (whatever that is), an Imperial Stout and a Double Bock. My guess is that’s just the beginning…

Where do YOU see beer going in the new year?

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