If you had told me just two and a half years ago that Bierstadt Lagerhaus would canning his pilsner, that New Belgium Brewing and Bell’s Brewery would both be owned by Kirin, that the Great American Beer Festival would have been canceled two years in a row , and the Falling Rock Tap House would just be a memory, I probably would have tilted my head to one side and mistook you for a fool.
So is the benefit of hindsight. And the folly of making predictions.
Still, it’s not hard to imagine some of the big trends and changes that appear to be on the horizon for craft beer in 2022; some are already there. Here are twelve predictions for the new year:
1. Higher prices for beer – maybe much higher
Many difficult factors have converged in recent months, which could cause the prices of beer – even cheaper – to rise by 10 to 30%. The first is a barley shortage which will certainly affect the amount brewers will have to pay for this key ingredient. The second is continued Chinese manufacturing issues and shipping issues, which have led to prohibitive prices for overseas products in some cases. The third factor is the shortage of aluminum cans, which worsened significantly in late 2021 when Ball Canning announced new policies that will have an immediate impact on craft brewers. But there are other inflationary pressures as well, including a renewed employee push for better wages and benefits – and the agreement of some brewery owners. Another problem? See # 2 below.
2. The end of emergency funding could cause problems
A good number of small breweries were able to stay alive through 2020 and 2021 thanks to a combination of state and federal loans and funding, rent relief by landlords, a quick switch to beer in retains and other changes in their business models. But many of those emergency measures have run their course, and now small businesses are going to have to do without them. Additionally, the benefits of canning beer may dwindle as it is extremely difficult to compete in Colorado, and prices for cans and labels are likely to increase for everyone in 2022 thanks to the shortage. aluminum. What does this mean for breweries? This may be the end of the line for some, although it looks like others are waiting backstage.
3. Continued consolidation of breweries
In the last quarter of 2021, Colorado experienced a series of brewery consolidations at different scales and impacts. First, 4 Noses Brewing bought Odd13, whose owners no longer had the risk tolerance for the stress of brewing beer in the pandemic era. Then, New Belgium’s parent company bought the famous Michigan Bell’s brewery and merged the two operations. And finally, Canadian marijuana company Tilray, which owns the new Sweetwater Brewing facility in Fort Collins, has brought together both the Breckenridge Distillery and two well-known San Diego breweries. And while on the outside, these moves aren’t much different from the brewery purchases of a few years ago, they seem more related to consolidation than expansion. The table is set for 2022 to see even more consolidation at all levels.
4) Vaccine requirements
Will the Great American Beer Festival be held in 2022 (dates are October 6-8), or will it be canceled for the third year in a row due to the pandemic? No one knows for sure, but if it does, attendees, brewers, exhibitors and volunteers will need to show proof of vaccination to enter. This move is likely to attract people who might not be present otherwise – and it is bound to alienate those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. But the GABF won’t be the only festival or venue to grapple with that choice, as proof-tested vaccination becomes more normal this year. Black Project, TRVE Brewing, Cerebral, Cohesion Brewing, Joyride Brewing, Our Mutual Friend Brewing, Novel Strand Brewing, and Primitive Beer are among those that have already made it mandatory. Several festivals and recurring events have also done so. Only time will tell how this will affect public health and results.
If you’ve read this far, you already understand why owners of small breweries may have reached the limit of what they can handle – or what they want to manage. Running a brewery is difficult in normal times, and these times are much, much more difficult. Things seemed to improve for a while, with breweries adjusting to packaging needs, hygiene rules, changing customers and more. But the blows continue: inflation, shortages of cans, vitriolic customers and the need for vaccines. So, with the specter of the pandemic turning into an endless endemic, some brewery owners – even those who would otherwise have been financially okay – may simply shut it down in order to save their sanity.
6) Uninviting festival breweries
If and when the beer festivals restart regularly, the organizers will have a new maze to go through: how to deal with inviting or not inviting breweries and brewery employees who are accused of sexism, harassment, racism and / or to create working conditions. On the other side, the breweries themselves will have to decide whether or not to attend festivals organized by people accused of the same. The problem didn’t really exist – publicly – before the pandemic, but it became evident after a series of Instagram posts detailing hundreds of allegations of sexual harassment, sexism and sexual assault in The beer and brewing industry nationwide went viral last May. Now, the people behind the Weldwerks Invitational, Big Beers and Pints ââfor Prostates (and even GABF) among others, will have decisions to make. One indicator of how things might turn out is the Mikkeller beer celebration last October in Copenhagen. Dozens of breweries have pulled out after a group of former Mikkeller employees accused the company of sexual harassment, discrimination or intimidation. Some of those who had sent beer before chose not to attend, even after spending money on reservations and plane tickets.
7) Sours – well, sour beers anyway
In the past, sour beers were a very small niche. Brewed, fermented and aged with Brettanomyces and / or wild yeasts as well as bacteria, these curly-mouthed beers were primarily the domain of Belgian breweries and, later, specialty American breweries. But the once misused word “sour” is now aimed at the beer-drinking public, as breweries have started to use it in the name of much more accessible – and salable – offers, most of them very. fruity, refreshing and tangy. , but not really sour. The most notable example locally is Odell’s Sippin ‘Pretty Sour Ale, which is actually more of a contemporary-style Gose. Others in this category still use their actual style names (though mostly obscure), such as gose or Berliner weisse or “kettle sour” in their names, but that is changing – and “sour “comes to mean quite another thing.
8) juicy non-misty IPAs
About five or six years ago, a wave of new hop varieties with luscious tropical flavors started to gain popularity with brewers and beer drinkers along with two other trends. The first was IPAs with a hazy or even cloudy appearance – the result of brewers wanting to produce as much flavor and aroma as possible. The second was the practice of completely dry hopping an IPA (adding hops after cooling the beer wort rather than during boiling), which removes a lot of bitterness. But these three things don’t have to go together. You can dry-hop a beer with new varieties of hops without making the beer cloudy – an appearance that still polarizes beer lovers – and that’s what many breweries have started doing. Two favorites from last year were Mockery’s Rock the Fuck on Forever and River North’s First Ascent.
9) Several beers in one brand
When the world gets all shaky, people tend to pick up on what feels familiar to them as a way of comforting themselves. Add to that a crowded and competitive craft beer market, and large and mid-sized breweries are finding that consumers want to stick with a brand they know and trust. One of the results is that the beer makers are taking inspiration from New Belgium, which quickly added new beers under its Voodoo brand – which started out as an IPA and now includes a whole “family” of different Voodoo beers. . Local examples include: Odell, who added Sippin ‘Tropical to Sippin’ Pretty; Denver Beer Co., which hopes to introduce several versions of its Yum Yum Kolsch in 2022; and Avery Brewing, which consolidates and develops some of its beers under the Rascal heading.
10) Go to the mountains
When COVID-19 struck in March 2020, residents of the city fled to the country to flee. In Colorado, the country means the mountains, where many still live and work remotely. And where people go, beer follows. There are currently at least six breweries in the metro area looking for a second location in the hills, including New Image Brewing, Jade Mountain Brewery, Goldspot Brewing, and Joyride Brewing, all of which have publicly mentioned their desire for more. ‘altitude. Meanwhile, Zuni Street Brewing announced last year the opening of a second location in Crested Butte, making it one of the first to look this far west.