I may work in a brewery, and I may write a beer column, but I’m by no means an expert when it comes to beer. I’m still learning something new everyday and constantly get my eyes opened to some new technique or trend. For the things I’m looking forward to in 2016’s beer world, it’s no different. I’ve got a few ideas myself, but I’ve still got to lean on my friends in the industry to really help me out. Here are some:
Lead Brewer, Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver
More craft breweries are going to sell out.
Breweries are going to keep making up beer styles that aren’t real but want to sound hip and cool. Dry Hopped White Stout. Red Porter. No. You shut your dirty whore mouth.
Pit Boss, Ska Brewing Co., Durango
IPAs are getting out of control with the bitterness. I think breweries are going to ease up on the IBUs and look to balance the malt or look to feature specific hops.
More hoppy red ales, like the Red Ryeot, from La Cumbre Brewing out of ABQ, will start coming out.
Assistant Brewer, Carver Brewing Co., Durango
Wild and spontaneous fermentation
Looking at the beer that I loved in 2015 and looking at the shelves in liquor stores, I know what I can hope for and what I want to see more of.
I loved the Avery Liliko’i Kepolo, a passion fruit witbier. It is packed with tart fruitiness and balanced with Belgian spice flavors. I’m dying for more beers along these lines, and I see a lot of beers standing next to it on that malty-hoppy-sour matrix: Death by Coconut by Oskar Blues; Grapefruit Sculpin, by Ballast Point; Blood Orange Gose, by Anderson Valley; and Modus Mandarina, by Ska. Take your favorite beer style, add an awesome complimentary flavor from the food world, and, voila, a super beer. If this trend keeps up, be on the lookout for things like dessert brown ales, fruity reds, and all things tropical and tart with saisons and sours.
Along these same lines, I’d love to see a balanced, full-production, sour beer that’s not going to kill my wallet. Most sours run you $10-plus for a 22-ounce bottle, and in the case of the Liliko’i, it’s around $3 per 12-ounce cans. There are ways to produce a sour beer cheaply (it’s the same ingredients after all). However, you run into problems producing it efficiently, as it uses a different fermentation, and a lot of breweries are afraid of contamination, so it ends up being a limited run, or smaller isolated batches. Anderson Valley’s Goses do OK here, coming in at around $2 for a 12-ounce can. The other problem you run into with sours is they don’t fully achieve a good sense of balance. They’re too heavy on the tart, killing the taste buds before the drinker can get to a second or third beer. The closest I see to this is Duchess of Bourgogne, a traditional Flanders Red Ale. It’s a blend of 18- and 8-month old beer (so we’re still running into efficiency problems), but it’s drinkable and balanced, but still runs into that heavier price point. Whichever brewery can get that price point for a balanced sour beer down will certainly win my heart in 2016.
Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Co. His first book of poetry, The Blank Target, was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop.