The Future of Craft Beer

As I was contemplating this post I ran through many different titles; Can there be too much Diversity? Are we fickle? Whither the craft in craft beer? Do we have too many choices? Always chasing the next big thing? The underlying theme being my general misgivings about the direction craft brewers have been taking in relation to the sheer size and diversity of their beer line-ups.

 

Deca-tuplets (?)

 

So I thought a little more about this.

 

Basically I feel like every new and established craft brewer, as of late, seems intent on creating and selling as many different beer styles as possible. Take a random sample of breweries from the Pacific Northwest and you will find many of them producing IPA’s, Pilsners, Pale Ales, Hefeweizens, Belgians, Porters, Stouts, Fruit Beers, Flavoured Ales, Reds Ales, Brown Ales, Dunkels, Sours and those are just off the top of my head AND that is not even counting variations on major styles or seasonals.

 

To be clear, I do not mean a single brewery is specializing on one or two of those styles but rather individual breweries are trying their hand at all of the styles.

 

Don’t get me wrong I am not against experimentation, I believing brewing is as much and art as it is a science and we need to push our boundaries from time to time in order to test our skills and move the craft beer culture forward.

 

But can we really move forward if everyone is trying to master everything? True quality may take lifetimes to master. Have you ever drank a trappist beer? Any idea how long they have been brewing that particular beer? Do you come across many blackberry chai Belgian Triples?

 

1201 choices

1201 choices

 

When I walk into a beer store and I see a thousand different craft beers to choose from I feel like the floodgates have opened and it concerns me to think that breweries, in their rush to put out a wild ale for the summer, are moving from style to style so quickly that we never really get to see them develop a signature beer or signature style that could become their hallmark.

 

Personally, I would welcome more breweries that dedicate themselves to perfecting a few styles of beer. Breweries who could rise above the masses due to the quality not volume, of beer they are producing.

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4 responses to “The Future of Craft Beer

  • hopgeek

    I totally agree with your point that breweries should focus on producing quality over quantity. Right now there is a huge demand in craft beer, opening the door for everyone to take a swing. I also believe many of these quantity over quality breweries will fall out of favor when the market starts demanding local, quality brews (which is already starting to happen).

    In regards to weird combinations, I agree that sometimes less is more. However, lets not forget that Belgians were some of the original pioneers in adding strange concoctions to their beers such as orange peel, coriander, candi sugar, etc.

    • Sara

      Thanks for the comment and for raising the point about Belgian brewers pushing the boundaries of more traditional beer recipes. I hope we move forward with breweries carving out specialty or niche markets where they can really work within a few styles perfecting and evolving those.

  • The Wandering Gourmand

    you are spot on. my favorite breweries are the ones that specialize. For example OMB here in Charlotte makes great German style beers focusing on just a few varieties from that great beer nation.

  • bigchinwell

    Interesting post … over here in England I find alot of our brewers have a smaller selection of beers. First they get known for making a good beer that will be there front runner then from that front runner you will find more types branch off.

    Sometime’s it makes it more exciting if you hear or see a new beer from a brewer you enjoy when they aint trying to put a new style out every month.

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