Amidst resolutions of detox, diets, improved flossing regimes and less time on Facebook, 2018 looks promising for beer. In this edition of our series we take a look at the year of beer that was 2017 while we predict potential trends for 2018. We contemplate how history repeats as we watch American trends go full circle. BBQ is ‘out’ in the South and ‘in’ in the North, and Hamburg sets new standards for sustainable beer with Wildwuchs Brauwerk.
Some beery highlights for 2017
The holidays are not only a time for eating and drinking the short days away in an unproductive half-paced winter hibernation. But Christmas and the sluggish days that drag us into the new year feeling overfed and under-exercised are also the time to eagerly anticipate the abundance of ‘year-in-review’ beer-focussed lists bound to surface.
In American beer-focussed magazine, DRAFT a hazy-heavy list of the 25 Top Beers of 2017 salvaged some credibility with the inclusion of one of the Bavarian greats, the Ayinger Bavarian Pils. Newly imported into the states, it was reassuring to see the humble pils recognised for its soft nuances, described as having and aroma of ‘honey and fresh bread, joined on the palate by an herbal and lemony hop character’. If that’s how a bottled and exported pils can be described, drinking fresh from tap in the Bavarian countryside village of Aying just might be a life-changing experience, and to that, we can attest!
The unpoppable craft bubble?
As beer sales in Germany continued their slump this year, craft beer breweries in the U.S. celebrated unprecedented growth. With an increase of more than 700 U.S. breweries in operation in 2017, totalling over 6000 breweries across the country (bear in mind that Germany sits somewhere around 1400), the U.S. based Brewers Association reported in their 2017 Craft Beer Review that 83 percent of Americans now live within 10 miles (16,09 kilometers) of a local brewery!
Although the market in Germany seems restrained (read: slow) by comparison, we should take solace in the fact that we do seem to be following a lot of the U.S. ‘craft-beer’ trends. With more and more acceptance of contemporary approaches to beer creation, an ever-climbing interest in home-brewing, pale ales, NEIPAs and rotating beer taps, Germany is sitting patiently on the cusp of a creative beer explosion.
In the U.S., Barl Watson of the Brewers Association reassured our collective psyches that what we’re experiencing is not just a bubble. “Craft brewers continue to thrive… fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America…” And, if Germany is to take anything from that sentiment, one thing is for sure – the young, creative beer scene in Germany is passionate!
Wildwuchs Brauwerk – The Eco-Warriors!
It’s always pleasant to hear about conscientious and inspiring steps taken in our industry, and in Wilhelmsburg, Hamburg, Fiete and his team from Wildwuchs Brauwerk have announced eagerly anticipated plans to open their own organic-brewery. Already long committed to reducing the negative environmental impacts of producing beer in Bleckeder Brauhaus, where Wildwuchs has been brewing, Fiete’s new brewery will be Hamburg’s first organic-brewery. With regionality and sustainable practices in the spot-light, Wildwuchs will continue to take a refreshing approach to creating the thing we all place unrivalled importance on; good beer!
Germany’s rib migration
It’s always disheartening to witness pioneering venues for the creative beer scene shut up shop, and the recent closure of Munich’s craft beer and ribs one-stop-shop, RedHot, rattled many. Open since 2011, RedHot holds the admirable title of being Munich’s first gastronomy establishment to stock beers deviating from Bavaria’s helles and weizen beer stock-standards. Critical for paving the way for a new wave of beer-thinking, we thank Tibor for everything he’s done for the scene and look forward to hearing what he plans to dabble with next!
And speaking of excellent beers and ribs, it seems that the combo may be headed North for the winter with news of the imminent opening of The Bird BBQ. Donald Burke, famed for his early involvement in getting delicious beer to the Berlin’s burger eating masses, has revealed plans to manage the bar of the new BBQ-focussed subsidiary of Berlin’s meaty-chain. In his new role, Donald will skillfully curate an impressive twelve beer-taps, all designed to wash down your meaty needs with Texan BBQ smoked onsite. Just a short stroll from Mauerparks wondrous flea markets and karaoke, twelve taps of excellent beer is just what the (Prenzlauer Berg) doctor ordered!
With Munich still in our sights, we wait with baited breath as the successfully crowdfunded campaign to open Frisches Bier, a taproom for Tilmans Biere, comes to fruition. With fourteen rotating beer taps planned, the financial goals were easily achieved, a promising sign that Munich is ripe and ready for the project!
2018: We’re ready!
As 2017 draws to an end, it’s fun to sit back and imagine what 2018 might have to offer for this unpredictable juggernaut that is beer. Will we continue to observe unprecedented hype for new crazy styles that deviate from trustee favourites so drastically? What will become of the NEIPA pandemic and will 2018 mark the long awaited for comeback of fresh pilsners and lagers? To Reinheitsgebot, or not to Reinheitsgebot; that is the question?
From sours, to lactose, to AB-InBev buy-outs, cans, brewpubs and back-to-good-ol’-basics; one thing’s for sure, 2018 promises to be a mighty year for beer!
Photocredit: Seren Dal & Tim Klöcker