Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Looking Forward to 2011

Here’s the last of the year end/beginning posts and this one looks forward to 2011 and all that it might bring. I’ve already listed the breweries I think will be important (and others have added their thoughts, too), but what else is there?

What beer style will be big this year? Black IPA was the newcomer with the fast ascent to A-Lister of the beer world in 2010. But will it stick around for 2011 and what else will be there? The breweries who are getting people talking aren’t afraid to use hops and this will have a knock-on effect throughout the beers, so I hope to see a few more hops being used. We might see some more adventurous sub-5% brews, which would certainly be welcome. John Clarke suggests in the comments to this post that black and tans or blends could be an emerging trend. What about Belgian styles done in Britain – saisons, dubbels, quads? Zak notices that they are on the wane but what if we see British interpretations?

I think seasonals and one-off specials will also become more important and that’s where the bigger ABVs will come in – look at Marble’s larger bottles, for example. It’ll be about seasonal weather changes as well as experimentations with ingredients and style. This is already happening but hopefully it'll get better and people will understand the significance of seasonality.

Collaboration will be a bigger thing. It’s been happening for a couple of years but it should get bigger and better with more breweries linking up with each other or with bars or local businesses.

Kegs and cans... why not?! There are now bars willing and able to sell these beers to drinkers wanting to buy them, so I’d like to try more kegged UK ales, but only if they are suited to it – big, hoppy beers, yes; brown bitters, no. When BrewDog can Punk IPA then I will buy a lot of them. I hope that experiment works well... Will others follow? Not yet but maybe in time.

Thornbridge’s lager: I really want to try it.

Personally, I’d like to see more collaborations in beer blogging, whether on mass blog projects or in those arranged by individuals. Things like The Session are great (even if I don’t take part very often – I will now!) or Why Cask Ale Rocks. Beer blogging needs to be fun and engaging – who wants to read something dry and boring? – but it also needs to be relevant to people. And here’s a promise: to read and comment on other blogs more. I do read all the blogs but I get slack on commenting. This will change. It’d also be great to see comments from more readers as this is where blogs live and die.

Personally, I’ve got quite a few goals. In my mind I’ve got a figure which I’d like to earn from writing about beer; on my desk I’ve got a list of all the places I want to visit to drink beer (the two join up somewhere in the middle, hopefully. The list includes: Czech Republic, Rome, Copenhagen, Bruges, USA... anywhere else?! Plus a number of UK places). I want to brew more beer and learn more about that. I also want to spend some time behind the bar and learn some cellarmanship skills. I want to learn more about other drinks, especially tea, wine and whisky. And of course, I want to drink more great beer and discover new breweries.

What’s in store for 2011? What styles of beer will we see more of? Who would you like to see collaborate on a brew? What do you want to see from a beer blog?


  1. It's gotta be garlic beer for sure! ;)

    Really though I see a lot of big things in the wet hopped beer scene. It would be great to get some US brewers over but come on, the king of the colab has got to be Mikkeller, need more from him over here! Wouldn't be too bad to get a few more Vlogs on the beer scene as-well.

  2. I reckon some occasional mild diversification into the realms of 'other' drinks is of potential benefit to us all. You mention tea, and I can feel a daytime obsession brewing nicely already...

    But, quite honestly, the notion of ale in cans has a palpable anti-lure which sends me all dizzy and nauseous. Apart from anything else 'The Canned Beer Year' really has no kind of ring to it.

    Except for the ring pull, I suppose.

    I'm happy for you to continue building a case for canned ale, however, and I guess that does say something...

  3. Well, Marble have already produced a Dubbel and I think this year we will see a Tripel and a Saison, too.

    Places to go - surely the De Molen thrash (or the Borefts Bier Festival as it is properly called) must be on your list this year.

    AS an aside - I followed your Thornbidge link and had a good read about their Key Keg. This isn't keg beer at all. As far as I can see it is racked bright so the condition in the beer has occurred naturally. The gas then squeezes the bag in which the beer is kept and forces it to the bar that way. It's a form of real ale, I think (many CAMRA beer festivals get emergency supplies of re-racked beer, which again is beer racked bright and put into a cask rather than a plastic bag). It's not quite as revolutionary as it's been made out to be.

  4. As a further comment - if you want to go to Bruges leave it until 4-5 Feb 2012 - that's when the next beer festival is to be held.

  5. Well you're always welcome to come and help out at our Beer Festival if you want to learn cellarmanship and work behind a bar! It's only a little one 12 days from Thursday 21st April to Monday 2nd May! But we are having a London Brewers theme...

  6. I guess I want to see brewers brew for a reason. Why put beer in cans? Why brew lager? Why produce limited release bottles? Well, 99% of brewers shouldn't. But...Brewdog have the retail & distribution clout to put a canned beer into supermarkets and into the export sphere. Thornbridge have the production capacity and technical expertise to brew lager. Marble have the quality control and recipe formualtion to brew full-flavoured speciality beer in 75cl bottles. If you can walk the walk, go talk the talk.

    Brewers fail when they think that a fancy bottle, a single hop, an odd ingredient, a style-mashup etc is the only way to go because other brewers are doing it. If we're not careful, we're in danger of falling into Emperor's New Clothes territory (where a fair chunk of US 'craft' brewing is headed IMO) where just because it's in a big bottle with a limited release and a scary hop bill it must be coolio.

    And I'm looking forward to more Brits taking part in The Session. Starting this Friday with 'cooking with beer'. That means you, Dredgie ;-)

  7. Ghost - I wonder if we'll see a load of wet hopped beers at the end of the year? The ones I had last year were good and it'd be great to see more doing it! And vlogs are important, I did have that in an earlier draft but didn't want to give all the secrets away :)

    THG - I think tea is likely to become my new obsession! I spent £25 on tea bags a couple of nights ago... expect some blogs on them sometime. And I think you just highlight the negative notions people have towards cans. It isn't for everyone but I'm all for it - some of the best beers I had last year were from cans.

    JC - I wonder if others will follow Marble? DarkStar make a fantastic Saison and Tripel so they are doing that too. Not many others, though? Borefts is on the list... the long list. And maybe I can squeeze in a couple of trips to Briges if there's a festival in 2012!

    Mitch - That sounds like a good offer to me! I could probably only manage a weekend. What's your hourly rate?! ;) I'll let you know but I'm definitely interested.

    Simon - Great comment and very true, all of it. I don't think it'll stop people trying stuff out though. Maybe we'll see a burst of (failed) experiments and then things settling down?! Who knows. There's going to be desire to try new stuff, I think, but whether it works is another story... And I'm in for The Session on Friday - Cooking with beer is something I can handle!

  8. Wait until 2012 to visit Brugge! That would be terrible. How about March of this year as a convenient base for the Alvinne festival, pre ZBF. Struise, De Molen, BFM, Norrebro, Mikkeller, Thornbridge, Del Ducato, Grassrooth, Croocked Moon, Braustelle, Beck, Freigeist BierKultur, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Emelisse, Revelation Cat. Not a bad list of brewers.