Riding a vaccinated wave and a fitfully receding pandemic, breweries and taprooms reopened doors last year to a changed drinking landscape. Cautious customers didn’t flood back indoors. Hard seltzer’s breakneck growth decelerated, leading the Boston Beer Company to dump excess Truly hard seltzer. And the supply chain snapped, leading to delays and price increases in raw materials, equipment, and shipping.
“We are absorbing those costs and not passing them on to consumers, but that may not be sustainable long term,” says Kelsey Roth, the general manager of Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing in Framingham, Massachusetts. The average pint and four-pack will get pricier, from small-batch IPAs to bulk-buy lagers. “We should be ready for inflation and higher-priced beer,” says Brandon Richards, the president of AleSmith Brewing in San Diego.
Climate change, a clenched job market, and evolving drinking preferences will also impact the industry, beginning another round of adaptations. As another pandemic year recedes in the rearview mirror, here are six trends that will steer the industry in 2022.
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1. Facing Climate Change, Hops and Yeast Go High-Tech
Breweries seeking bigger flavors and aromas are turning to science to satisfy an IPA fan’s “demand for heavily tropical beers,” says Jeff Smith, a founder of LUKI Brewery in Arvada, Colorado.
Hops supplier John I. Haas now offers several concentrated liquid products, including Incognito and Spectrum, the latter designed for dry hopping. Derived from Sauvignon Blanc grape skins, New Zealand’s Phantasm powder is packed with thiols, a family of sulfur compounds, and is used during active fermentation to deliver tropical fragrances. Trillium Brewing, Burial Beer, and WeldWerks Brewing are among early breweries playing with the powder.
“I expect breweries to go even more heavily into synthesized ingredients, whether hop products, flavor additives, or bioengineered yeast,” says The Beer Bible author Jeff Alworth.
Omega Yeast in Chicago created a “thiolized” series of strains including Cosmic Punch, which helps yeast create aromas of passionfruit, guava, and grapefruit. Berkeley Yeast in Oakland, California, is a leader in genetically engineered yeast. The company has seen success with its Galactic strain that quickly produces lactic acid, plus the Tropics strain that delivers scents of guava and passionfruit.
CEO Charles Denby views bioengineered strains as a coming necessity, especially as climate change and wildfire smoke adversely impact fruits and hops. With reduced supply and increased cost, “brewers are going to have to figure out how to make the same great-tasting beer with fewer high-quality raw ingredients,” Denby says.
Photo courtesy of Berkeley Yeast.
2. Craft Lagers Target Mainstream and Health-Conscious Drinkers
To increase market share and appeal to devotees of domestic …….