The new year is certainly upon us. In fact, it's in full swing, and the beer world hasn't stopped turning. 2010 marked quite a few changes for the industry as a whole, but what does 2011 have in store for beer lovers? Well, there are some trends that can be easily identified from what happened in the previous year. Here's a glimpse at trends that you'll certainly notice in the coming months.
Small and Smaller
One of the most defining trends in 2010 was the growth of nano breweries. These tiny one and two-man operations have sprung up all over the place. There are even several popular festivals designed to highlight the best nano brews out there. Don't look for this trend to change anytime soon. In fact, with the popularity of nano breweries, 2011 should be a banner year for new ones and growth of existing ones. Nano breweries seem to be becoming the underground scene in the beer industry, occupying the niche that once belonged to microbreweries.
2010 saw the release of some very "extreme" beers – those with high alcohol content, unique fusion blends and bizarre packaging. Who can forget the squirrel packaging (real squirrel bodies) used to contain BrewDog's The End of History, or their Tactical Nuclear Penguin, which is available in some areas of the US?
That trend will continue, with some of the craft beer industry's most popular names making extreme beers. Look for companies like Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, and Stone to continue pushing the envelope of what "beer" actually means in the coming year.
Fewer Styles, More Taste
2010 also marked the debut of some interesting hybrid beers. That trend will certainly continue through 2011, and that might just be a very good thing. While defined styles are hard requirements for competitions, beer drinkers have no such need. For those who drink for taste and character, then the emerging trend of hybrid and fusion beers is an incredible chance to enjoy some of the best tastes ever concocted.
There will be more changes in 2011, as well. The increasing popularity of craft beers will certainly lead to a reduction in the sales (dollars and volume) for major US brewers, like Budweiser and MillerCoors. However, this will also affect the import beer scene. Look for fewer and fewer of the less popular imports to be available on store shelves, as more real estate is given over to local craft beers.