Last year I put down a few predictions for the year. Here’s what I think for 2010...
Cask beer will grow. I also think cask beer drinkers will start younger (as the Cask Report says) and that there’s a huge market of drinkers in British universities – some unis do cask, but not many, which is a real shame. This is an untapped (literally) area with massive potential (some expendable income, a drinking culture, ‘educated’ audience... Ask around and I bet a good number of ale drinkers - those with degrees, anyway - started while studying).
Breweries working to please two different markets: the real ale pub drinker and the beer ‘enthusiast’ who wants something a little different. This will mean a core range of cask beers and then a few specials, bottled in small numbers. This will in turn - for small, very specialist brews - create certain beers as commodities, pushing price levels higher and bottle numbers lower (see: BrewDog’s Abstrakt range). A few breweries already do this well, more will follow.
I say: Ban bland, brown bitters! Sessionable 4% pale ales and ‘bitters’ will get better. Bitter as a style needs to evolve and shake free from the negative shackles. We had bumper hop harvests last year so hopefully this will reflect in the beers we drink – better ingredients going in and better beers coming out. Also, I hope more breweries are happy to chuck extra hops in, especially American hops which are incredibly drinkable and fruity. Session beers are the daily bread in Britain and are incredibly important, but they should be better and they can be. They will be.
Following on from the session beers, I think there will be more adventurous beers under 5-6%. Beer doesn’t need to be 9% to be packed with flavour. I’m more impressed with low ABV beers which pack a punch but remain very drinkable.
As much as I like dark beers, I think 2010 will be all about pale and hoppy. I don’t know why, I just feel that’s where things are going.
I think barrel-aging will be more limited than previous years as that trend seems to be waning. I wonder what will supersede it...
Mario at Brewed for Thought on his Hop Press post makes the prediction that appellation will become important in 2010 and I like this idea. Make beers specific to where they come from: local malt, barley, water and hops creating a unique beer from its unique location. Westerham Brewery do this and the beers are very good. The Slow Food movement will have some impact and drinkers will appreciate local drink.
It’s interesting to see Shepherd Neame’s pilot plant where they can brew small one-off batches of beer still under the same brand. I’d like other big breweries to do the same and be a bit more experimental – it’s a great way to hit existing drinkers with new flavours.
Barm/Robsterowski says it well here: A better understanding of serving cask beers and cellarmanship. Real ale relies on the pub to serve it in great condition (assuming the brewery sends it out in a good state, which they should – and which is something else which should be improved). I’ve had too many disappointing pints in the past thanks to poorly kept beer. It just reflects badly on the whole industry and puts potential converts off.
Tandleman has a few wishes which are very interesting, particularly involving the industry (the need for one voice) and CAMRA (the need for a ‘purpose review’). I think he nails these two points and I hope something happens on both fronts to help update what we have.
Food and beer as partners will gain more appreciation. It deserves it. We need to champion it.
I hope a supermarket grabs beer by the balls and overhauls its selection. Marks & Spencer have done a good job and Tesco have listed some good new beers this year, but I’d love to see a few more, different, interesting beers in the supermarket and definitely more local beers available.
More US beer gets shipped over to the UK (because I want to drink it).
Better UK beer gets shipped to the US (because the stuff that goes that way isn’t the best we have to offer).
More kegged UK ale. Handpulls are, like, so 1970s. Let’s see some keg action and try to narrow the keg vs cask gulf (this is a mindset thing as much as anything else – warm, flat ales are pulled by handpump, cold, fizzy lagers are kegged...).
BrewDog concentrate on exciting our imaginations with excellent beer and forget the stunts.
A US-style beer bar in London. Please. Like The Rake, with more beer and beer that’s brewed on location.
And perhaps most hopefully… I’d to see some adventurous UK sours or just some really good UK lagers.
To beer bloggers:
Write whatever the hell you like. Talk about the good beers you drink; the beers you like to drink. Be passionate. Be bold. But be honest. We do this as a hobby and because we like doing it. There are no rules. Challenge when it's relevant, but remember: what we write is in the public domain so be fair and blog what you would like others to read and think about what you have experienced. And have some fun!
That’ll do for now. Any ideas or thoughts on what’s ahead for us this year?