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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': New Year's Predictions

Resolutions, I have none. 2006 on a whole, for me, turned out to be a pretty successful year. So, my resolution is to try to maintain the steady ship and if greater improvement happens along the way, then all the better for me. Now, on to predictions. And, thankfully for you all, I'll stick to beer and not what I predict will happen in the world of politics, Hollywood, music, or religion. #1 - My first prediction relates to a movement that I think might possibly be already underway. That is, a movement to smaller, yet still flavorful beers. The year 2006, in my humble estimation was the peak of bigger beers in the sense of Imperial Stout, Imperial IPA (Double, Triple, wait where's the Quad, Pent, hex, hept IPAs?), Imperial Pilsners, et cetera. No one can quite define what an imperial anything is other than to mean something along the lines of "more..." While these will continue to be produced and we will continue to experiment with them and enjoy them, I for one have grown a bit weary of the one-upsmanship of who can put more hops, grain, alcohol, and so on in their beer. Don't get me wrong, it can be interesting and sometimes fun to play around with these beers, but in the end most turn out to be closer to a trendy novelty than a mainstay beer. So, my first prediction for 2007 is that we will see more experimentation with flavors in "smaller beers." Finding yourself in a session beer should not be a bad thing. #2 - I predict that Adam and I will not succeed in cleaning out any of our refrigerators, coolers, cabinets, or anywhere else that we hide our beer. I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing ;-) #3 - My second topic may be more of a wish than a prediction. Over the past several years of attending festivals, I've noticed the soaring popularity of these one-price all-you-can-drink events. There have been some festivals where the size of the crowd has limited the ability to truly appreciate the beers that are being sampled. Either because the brewer is too consumed with pouring as much beer as quickly as possible for the lines of attendees, or the size of the crowd in the event's location makes it physically uncomfortable, or perhaps the brewer has only rolled out some their more pedestrian beers for the event, some festivals can be a letdown from a beer appreciation perspective. That's why I'd like to see more festivals broken into two groupings. One for the masses who simply wish to drink as much as they can for $20-$30. And, a second group, say for $30-??? where presumably it is less crowded, with more interesting beers to sample, and a more relaxed atmosphere in which to interact with the brewers/owners. You've probably seen this happening with certain festivals where they have a preceding "connoisseurs tasting" or something like it. This is something I'd like to see more of in 2007. #4 - I predict that Kathleen will score a 2007 version of the Punkin t-shirt from Dogfish Head. #5 - Next up on the prediction block is regarding unusual, far from mainstream beer styles. Any friends or family who think that craft beer, especially like those flavored with chocolate, pumpkin, licorice, etc., are wacky beers will certainly not understand barrel-aged bombshells and wild ales that are with increasing frequency being experimented with in the United States. My prediction for 2007 is that this segment of the craft beer industry will continue to grow as palates want to be increasingly explored and challenged. Experimenting with yeast strains is something that brewers and drinkers alike seem to be connecting with and appreciating. I do think there's a limit for how far brewers can go with this sort of style, but I believe we are still a couple of years away from hitting the peak. So, while I mentioned above a peaking of "bigger beers," here I am figuring that "different beers" will continue to fascinate the craft beer segment and show up in even greater variety in the coming year. #6 - Even in the face of a super expansion plan, Iron Hill will once again stake claim to the Large Brewpub of the Year award and take home 5 others for individual beers in October 2007. #7 - I hope to be surprised on this point, but I don't see a letup in carrying liquid on board aircraft in 2007. Judging by how slow the FAA and related air travel industries have been to move on other security-related measures (are non-travellers even allowed past security yet? will that ever change?), I'd be surprised if we're carrying growlers of fresh beer on board aircraft any time soon. But, like I said, it would be nice to be wrong about this one. Carefully packing bottles in my checked luggage and not being able to bring home fresh growler beer is a real letdown. #8 - The minimum drinking age will not be lowered to 18. It may, in fact be raised :-p but it will not be lowered any time soon, no matter how much sense this seems to make to logical-thinking folk. #9 - Saison as a style will come out from the shadows and become more appreciated and embraced as the food pairing-worthy beer that it is. #10 - I will continue to be punished for my curiosity for inane discussion thread topics over at Beer Advocate. I think I'll stop now. I've already provided you all with too many arrows to shoot back at me. Agree? Disagree? Post your comments and tell me why I'm right, wrong, or just plain crazy. I sprinkled in some lighter-hearted ones, so if you got this far, hopefully you found them all to be both a thought-provoking and fun way in which to look into the new year. May the new year be even better than the old one for you! Here's to a HAPPY NEW YEAR of BEERS & CHEERS! (and be safe in your celebrating)

1 comment:

Adam said...

#1 Big beers will continue to become more popular.

#2 Adam will clean Bryan's fridge out!

#3 Perhaps there will be a segmented approach to marketing beer events.

#4 Kathleen will score the t-shirt, but, will pine for the old school version.

#5 Different beers will continue to intrigue us. This is the natural way of things.

#6 Not much to say about Iron Hill.

#7 I agree with the air travel comment.

#8 I won't touch the drinking age thing with a 10 foot pole.

#9 Saison, eh...I guess I wouldn't argue with that.

#10 Beer advocate will become a place where people think rational thoughts and discuss beer in a more respectful way. Maybe BA will change their motto to respect the rules of beer forums. ;-)

Happy New Year!