As 2010 was coming to an end, the Brewers Association, which represents America’s small and independent craft breweries, took a look back at some of the year’s biggest beer trends.
You’ll find the article by Julia Herz, the Association’s Craft Beer Program director, at craftbeer.com.
To get an Atlanta perspective, I asked the group of beer geeks who regularly post on the local Beer Talk mailing list at atlantabeer.com to offer their opinions on a few of the highlights.
Here’s a smattering of what this well-informed and sometimes ornery bunch had to say.
Q: Is the rise of canned craft beer a good thing?
“Cans are good. Lighter and smaller to ship and store. Quicker to chill. Easier to recycle. But cans don’t have the presentation of a corked and caged 750-ml bottle or a wax-dipped 22-oz. bomber.”
“It’s a big deal for the breweries, but I don’t think most beer drinkers care. I haven’t met anyone who’s excited or put off by craft in cans. I prefer bottles. They’re reusable for homebrew.”
Q: Is the oft-quoted buzz phrase, “Sour is the new hoppy,” really true?
“I think hoppy is the new hoppy. It’s amazing to see so many IPAs and other hoppy beers in the market. It doesn’t seem to stop.”
“Hoppy beers are still growing. I think the top .01 percent of the craft beer drinkers are getting into sours. I love them personally but I do not think they are for everybody.”
“I think sour could become the new hoppy. Big hoppy IPAs were at one time a little crazy and niche but now make up a huge part of the craft market.”
Q: What about the so-called “nano” brewery movement?
“Until Georgia shows some love to entrepreneurs, don’t expect many locals, if any.”
“I don’t know anything about nano breweries, but ever since Hop City opened I’ve noticed people buying homebrew equipment every single time I’m in there. I think homebrewing is on a strong swing back into fashion.”
“Nano businesses are a great way for someone to test an idea without giving up their day job. In New York, for $75, you can get a license and set up your own distillery in your garage to make boutique spirits. Some states like Georgia put laws in place that discourage the formation of small businesses.”
Q: What about beer and food?
“There are beer pairings all over now, even at little restaurants way out in the ’burbs, but practically no marketing. I don’t think most lay people know beer tastings exist.”
“Is ‘beer and food’ new this year?”
“Beer and food pairings (organized beer dinners, articles, classes, etc.) is not new but has become much more available.”
“Food just gets in the way of a good drinking session.”
What do you think? Were these the important beer trends of 2010? What about in Atlanta?