By Tara Gary
Finding beer trends for 2020 on the internet is as difficult as finding a Budweiser in my refrigerator. I searched and searched, but seriously, who really knows what will happen in the beer industry this year? What I found repeatedly was the prediction of lower-calorie IPAs. I just Googled the calories for one 12 ounce bottle of locally brewed Sweetwater 420—185 calories and 15 grams of carbs. In my opinion, that’s not really that bad. However, I’m sure many of you will disagree. The prediction, in most cases, follows the trend of the highly sought-after hard seltzers, like Truly and White Claw, which seem to be extremely popular. These 12 ounce, 100 calorie drinks have become so popular that White Claw experienced a “shortage” this past year. Sales increased the week of the Fourth of July in 2019, 283 percent from the same week in July 2018 (according to CNN). I’m in no way claiming these seltzers are a fair comparison to craft beer, well maybe a fair comparison to those “beers” that are lighter in color (and definitely in taste) that I grew up with many years ago and consumed in college. I do believe the hard seltzers might be popular for their low five percent alcohol content, as well as the low-calorie content, as implied by many.
It’s been suggested these low-calorie hard seltzers are sparking a trend for lower calorie IPAs. I’m not so sure I agree. Being a craft beer lover, I can’t see myself choosing to consume a beer at one of our nearby breweries based on a low-calorie content. I choose my beer by taste, and depending on the day and time, by alcohol content as well. If I know I will be drinking at an event where I need to be on my toes, I will choose a low-alcohol content beer. I also choose low-alcohol content beer if I am going to be in the sun all day. However, when consuming a few beers with friends, I will typically choose something higher in alcohol content because those seem to be the ones that taste the best to me.
Through my travels I have seen one trend in craft beer I absolutely love, unusual flavors. For example, I recently visited a little brewery in New Braunfels, Texas—Guadalupe Brewing Company—which I highly recommend. They were serving a Banana Cream Pie Hefeweizen with coconut, vanilla, and a vanilla wafer rimmed glass (6% ABV). It was the best beer I tasted on that trip. Mind you, my favorite hobby is craft beer and visiting as many craft breweries as possible. The second-best beer on the trip was at the same brewery, a chocolate bitter stout called Ja S’more Bitte complete with a toasted marshmallow on the rim. The sweetness of the marshmallow countered the bitterness of the stout perfectly. I will definitely revisit Guadalupe Brewing on my next trip to Austin to see what’s new on their taps. The trend of these well-paired and intriguing flavors is something I’ve noticed an increase in for a variety of beers, especially stouts and porters. Our local Gate City Brewing Company serves a perfect example of this trend seasonally in the fall, another one of my favorites, Gourd Vibrations. It’s a chocolate pumpkin porter (7.8% ABV), one of those beers I reserve for gathering with my friends or sipping at the taproom.
Another trend I foresee, is an increase in the amount of beer available from Wild Leap Brew Co. in LaGrange, Georgia. It’s a no-brainer considering the brewery was voted “Best New Brewery in the U.S.” by USA Today Readers’ Choice in 2019. Shockingly, I have visited this brewery as well and could taste why they received such a prestigious award. My absolute favorite beer from Wild Leap is the Alpha Abstraction double IPA. This popular, juicy haze brew is so easy to drink. I am looking forward to having a taste of the newest release of Alpha Abstraction, Vol. 10, very soon.
In the meantime, Happy New Year and happy new brews! No matter what you like to drink, please remember to drink responsibly.
When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.