5 Brewery Trends to Watch Out For

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and other widespread disruptions and civil unrest, no doubt 2020 has rocked our view of “normal” for lifetimes to come. The world will operate differently after this year; our priorities have shifted. In the hospitality industry, as with everywhere, new trends will be permanently influenced by the evolving mindsets shaping the world as a whole.

Breweries are one such rising trend that’s gotten more popular over the last several years. Like every other business, they’ve adjusted some of their strategies to accommodate concerns over COVID-19 but their core commitment to craft beer remains as strong as ever.

Want to try something new but don’t know where to start? These 5 brewery trends are gaining popularity, and for good reason.

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1. Beers falling back in fashion

Last year, certain beers sparked renewed interest with craft beer fans. Not everything had to be new to be hip; sometimes vintage is better. IPAs, lagers, local fresh hop and sweet sours have started getting popular again, a sentiment that’s still growing.

Although these beers are old favorites, breweries are still rebranding by giving themselves new facades. Many have changed up their looks to attract more people and to make themselves a casual, trendy hangout spot. Of course a lot of these plans are postponed until COVID-19 restrictions lift, but changing the artistry and design of a brewery can be one easy way to become a local favorite once everything returns to normal.

2. Expand the menu

Nowadays, a lot of breweries don’t limit themselves to only serving craft beer; they’re diversifying their portfolio to stay relevant on the market. Many breweries now serve hard seltzer, craft coffee, kombucha, and low-calorie or even nonalcoholic drinks. By expanding their menu, they can cater to a wider customer base and develop a broader loyalty. It also invites more people to come in for the first time and try out new drinks that they may have never had before.

3. Experiment with your craft

Although not every craft beer alternative is brand new, some experimental brews are experiencing a resurgence of popularity amongst customers willing to expand their pallet. Coffee beers, rosé beer that’s crisp and sometimes even a beer-wine hybrid, and lactose beer are all old inventions that are getting a new wave of fans in 2020.

Lactose beer is a particularly interesting trend that some critics hoped would die out in 2019, but to no avail. As people continually experiment with lactose-infused brews, they’re refining the craft by seeing what works, what fails and discovering what drinks pair best. Milder, fruity flavors go well with lactose-imbued beer.

4. Spontaneous fermentation

Just as people experiment with new flavors and types of beer, breweries are also finding new, innovative ways to create craft beer. Different methods of fermentation, for example, can make it even more delicious: That’s why craft breweries are beginning to experiment with spontaneous fermentation, which does away with adding manufactured yeast from a laboratory. Instead, breweries open their wort (A.K.A. all of their unfermented beer in stock) and simply let the elements naturally ferment the beer with its own nutrients.

This method has a few advantages. For starters, it’s better for the environment to convert part of the supply chain into a local effort. For another it really helps your brewery stand out from the crowd: Spontaneous fermentation relies on your particular environment and location. Literally no one else can make craft beer like you, because you’re using natural elements that are extremely specific to your area. No one, not even a brewery right down the street, can precisely match what’s going into your brews.

Some take localization a step further by sourcing from locally-owned businesses; others even go foraging for their ingredients. Both of these methods help keep every aspect of the beer-making process very specific to your particular brewery, which is the ultimate way to ensure your beer is both environmentally conscious and completely unique.

5. International breweries

Breweries that have found a niche in one country have started to expand outside their borders and develop a reputation around the world. It’s not specific to one continent either: American breweries are doing pop-ups in Europe while well-known brewery chains like Bellwoods, Magick Rock and more have begun opening locations in the U.S. Everyone’s starting to expand outside of their hometown and show people around the world what different localities have to offer the world of craft beer.

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Breweries are getting revitalized, but they’re simultaneously adapting to the ongoing global crises like every other business. Trends like these are on the rise despite the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for people to enjoy breweries in person. The businesses adapt by offering delivery and virtual experiences so that customers can continue experimenting with craft beer; if anything, they have more time than ever to try new things and find unexpected favorites.

As we eventually move forward into a post-COVID-19 world, these fads and whatever follows them will continue to reflect a changing mindset among consumers. We favor professional experimentation, environmentally-friendly and locally-sourced ingredients, and a diversified menu that lets people try new, delicious things they may have never considered before. These trends might not last forever, but they’ve spurred breweries to revitalize their images and strategies to prepare for the oncoming future of hospitality.

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