In mid-January of this year we threw together some thoughts on how we expected the year in craft beer to shake out. It was less prognostication and predicting and more what we wanted to see more, or less, of.
So, how did we do?
Let’s find out.
Karl pined for the demise of the gose and a return to better-brewed beers with more of a focus on consistency and authenticity than, “what fruity IPA should we brew this time?”
While we couldn’t pin down hard data on the sales of gose, we’ve seen way less of it on store shelves this year. We’ll give that one to the home team. As for the plea for a return to what some may call ‘boring,’ or as Karl so eloquently put it:
Make me a beautiful, balanced, clean, gorgeous amber ale. Make me a beautiful sparkling pilsner. Make me a perfect brown ale. Show me what you can really do. I’ve seen creativity. Show me real craftsmanship.
We got closer this year but I don’t know if we’ve crossed that finish line yet. Although according to recent IRI data, case sales of golden ales are up 45 percent year to date and Revolution Brewing introduced an 18 pack of Cross of Gold over the summer.
William Jennings Bryan delivered one of the most famous political speeches ever at the 1896 Democratic National Convention, in Chicago. The speech was named Cross of Gold, and provided the inspiration for one of Revolution's original beers. Jennings Bryan was a populist, something we craft brewers consider ourselves to be. Cross of Gold was first brewed in Josh Deth's basement by Brewmaster Jim Cibak, in June 2009. Two additional batches followed, to dial in the recipe, before becoming one of the initial beers served at the Revolution Brewpub in 2010. Cross of Gold has since taken home Gold at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. It remains a favorite among our employees, and is a top seller at the Brewpub and Tap Room. Beginning next week, we bring the crisp, refreshing golden ale to the masses in our new 18-Pack. We hope that Cross of Gold's approachable, easy-drinking taste will earn an invitation to your parties, barbecues, and tailgates this Summer. #crossofgold #revolutionbrewing #goldenale #chicago #beer #revbrew #craftbeer
Ben hedged his bets on brewers tapping into new, experimental malt varieties.
Just as we’ve seen amazing things happen in hops, I too hope that, through the innovation of micro-maltsters and brewers who want to push the envelope in style and flavor, we begin seeing the rise of specialty malts. Think heirloom wheat varieties. Long forgotten barley strains. Crazy unknown varieties of rye.
As cool as this may be, I think Ben was a year or two too early on this one.
Steve spoke glowingly of 18th Street Brewery’s “In the Shadows” series and was eager to see what Drew Fox had in store for 2017.
It’s a fun series. One that draws people into the brewpub just to try it.
Releases this year included a number of New England-style, double dry hopped and double IPAs, such as NAILED, SKREEECH!!, Twisted Doom and Selfie Entitlement, however they tailed off in the latter half of the year. 18th Street is still doing small batch stuff, but appears to have ditched the branding.
While the brand name may have faded by mid-year, the tinkering hasn’t stopped. Nickel and Dime came along, as did a renewed focus on Sour Note Brewing (they’re now teasing the opening of a sour-specific tasting room) as well as an open-fermentation system at their original Gary facility.
I on the other hand longed for the return of the lager.
But not in the form of an India Pale Lager. Nope. I mean a crisp, clean, standard-setting lager. One that’s bright and zippy but also bready and a little sweet.
Much like Karl’s hope for a return to more classic styles, we’re getting there but we aren’t there yet. On the bright side, I did get to Territorial Brewing this year and their lagers are as-advertised.
So a 40 percent success rate in our hopes, wishes and dreams for craft beer in 2017. Not great, but at least we got two right.
Look for our 2018 prognostications sometime after the New Year, where I am sure I’ll double-down on my hopes for more clean lagers while Steve will pull in the opposite direction in a quest for crazier concoctions and barrel-aged oddities.