What to Expect in the Future of Craft Beer

By / Wine + Drinks / April 17th, 2018 / 3
Craft beer brewer Matt Brynildson

“More.” That’s the main word that is often used when someone asks me what the next big trend in craft beer is going to be. More. More breweries. More beer. More festivals. More retail spaces. More styles. It might seem a little catch-all and chaotic, and it is, but that’s the reality we’re in. With new breweries seemingly opening up every week now, we’re seeing a spectacular rise in selection, proving that every day is indeed the best day for Craft.

So “more” tends to apply in regard to what we’ll be seeing. For instance, we’ll be seeing more of some of the obvious favourites of the past few years. The beautifully tart kettle sours like the ones coming out of Seaforth, Ontario’s Half Hours on Earth will still be a constant in many brewery taprooms. And the hazy, juicy Vermont IPAs that look more like a glass of orange juice than beer will definitely not be going anywhere (I daresay there’d be riots if breweries stopped making them).

I even think we’ll be seeing more of the Milkshake IPA, an IPA made with lactose and vanilla to give it an overall creamy mouthfeel which, when brewed with a particularly fruit-forward hop character or with fruit itself, makes a beer that has both charmed and confused so many with its sweet and hop-forward flavours. For 2017, Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery really set the scene with their Milkshark series, which included variations such as strawberry, mango, pink guava and pineapple. Additionally, Farnham Brewery, which has locations in Farnham, Quebec and Burlington, Vermont, has made some excellent Milkshake IPAs with their 66 series, pressing the limits of how fruity a profile hops can achieve.

But it should be said that with the ever-growing landscape, craft nerds are no longer the only demographic for craft beer and, blessedly, the focus has gotten much wider and a hell of a lot more welcoming. So, with that in mind, we can look forward to a continuation of beer styles in the mode of “simple done well” to appeal to beer aficionados and newcomers alike. From the delicate grass and citrus flavours in Firestone Walker Brewing’s Pivo Pils to the lightly bready and herbal notes in Side Launch Brewing’s popular Munich Helles Mountain Lager, light-bodied and accessible are the qualities that are winning the war for better beer.

What’s more, these beers don’t have to adhere to a classic style. Often a simple dry-hop addition creates a flavour that craft lovers appreciate and newcomers use as an appropriate step to bolder tasting beers. A prime example would be Regina, Saskatchewan’s District Brewing with their West Coast Wheat Lager. The mouthfeel is light and smooth, but it’s the significant cracked pepper and lemon drop flavours that set it apart from other humdrum lagers in the market.

So let’s raise a glass to more beer, more breweries and most importantly, more good times.


Robin LeBlanc is a beer columnist, award-winning blogger at TheThirstyWench.com, and co-author of The Ontario Craft Beer Guide, a guidebook to all of Ontario's breweries now in its second edition. She lives in Toronto.

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