What will be the taste of 2018? I asked 8 renowned beer connoisseurs from 3 countries. In summary: the 2018 beer is new (that’s not necessarily good), low in alcohol and packed in cans. But there's more! Here they are: the beer trends for 2018.
Melissa Cole (UK): Serious beer, balance and fresh vs. ripened
Everything indicates that in 2018 beer will be viewed more and more seriously. I hear influential chefs say that beer would fit better with cheese than wine, I am very happy about it.
The 'gimmicky' beers will start to tire. Consumers are quickly ready with 'hip' breweries that produce badly ripened or poorly brewed beers. Only the truly balanced beers will remain.
Canned beer will continue to be popular in 2018 when it comes to beers that you have to drink fresh. On the other hand, the 'cellars' of the new generation of beer lovers are starting to grow, which will increase the appreciation for beer that can age well.
I applaud these trends, but I hope that beer will remain the fun, social lubricant that it has always been.
Melissa is a beer writer for several maganize and newspapers, as well as author of books about beer. She’s also a beer sommelier and Certified Cicerone®.
Rick Kempen (NL): New (not necessarily good) and cans.
In terms of taste, the answer is simple: NEW. It does not matter who brews it: we want to try it. Instead of scanning the taps to a well-known and favourite beer, we immediately ask: 'What’s new?'
2018 is too early for the inevitable 'shake out': breweries that fall into the competitive battle, or that have to close the doors because nobody drinks their undrinkable product. This will also be a problem in 2018: there will be a lot of badly brewed beer on the market. Unfortunately, new is not necessarily synonymous with good, let alone tasty.
What I am hoping for is that the long-predicted breakthrough of cans will take place now. There are plenty of rumours about small brewers releasing canned beer. For the rest, let me be surprised!
Rick is beer sommelier at Het Bierplein, beer blogger and author of the book “Bier”.
Alain Schepers (NL): Barrel-aged, cans and sessions.
There will be many new beers in 2018. Barrel-aged beers too: breweries have bought many wooden barrels. The beers that will be released in 2018 are already aging in the wooden barrels now.
The advance of cans can no longer be stopped in 2018. Cans have already been embraced by many American breweries and is now spreading in Europe as well.
Finally, low-alcoholic (session) and alcohol-free beers: these will finally establish in 2018. Alcohol-free beers are now socially accepted. The taste has improved greatly and there are also Weizen and IPA's without alcohol that taste great. Session beers will be placed on a pedestal next year to give them a permanent place in the hearts of the beer consumer.
Alain is beer sommelier, founder of Bierista.nl and beer writer.
Luc De Raedemaeker (BE): Simplicity, balance and quality.
I foresee a return to simplicity and balance. Nowadays you regularly see beers with an overdose of hops or far-fetched ingredients.
Those crazy experiments run out of the scrubs and exhaust the average consumer. Brewers will reload in 2018 and return to the beginning.
Personally, I hope for that too: less and better. That brewers will invest in quality and not in quantity. Every week you can find at least a new beer that’s insanely stupid.
Luc is beer sommelier, director of the Brussels Beer Challenge and writer for several different Belgian beer magazines.
Arvid Bergström (NL): New, Session and food.
The trend of new breweries and new beers will continue in 2018, But I also noticed more often that not all new beers are just as good!
The trend of fewer new IPAs, but an increase in new Session IPAs will also continue in 2018.
In addition, in 2017 I noticed that many brewers ripen beers in wooden casks, in 2018 a lot will become available and this trend will continue.
Personally, I hope that the beer style Saison will really break through, so that we can taste delicious fresh and dry Saison in the summer. In addition, I hope that in 2018 more people discover how good beer is next to their food.
Arvid Bergström is beer sommelier and author of different books about food & beer.
Adrian Tierney-Jones (UK): IPA sprawl, social responsibility and classics
The proliferation of many types of IPAs will continue in 2018. I expect non-alcoholic IPAs and from the US we already see dry-hopped soft drinks. In addition, in 2018 I expect a lot more foolish beers, such as donut porters and pastry stouts.
Furthermore, more breweries will take their social responsibility seriously in 2018: from bread in the brewing kettle to raise awareness about food waste to employees co-owning a brewery.
Like every year, I hope that brewers will come up with new Lagers in 2018, such as Märzen, Doppelbock or Pilsener in North German style. Furthermore, I would not mind to see some exemplary British-style IPAs and if big breweries digged into their archives and brew beers from a hundred years ago.
Adrian is UK Beer Writer of the Year 2017 and writer for various British beer magazines.
Mark Dredge (UK): NEIPA, more hops and classic styles.
New England IPAs occupy the near future. I think the next step for these foggy IPAs will be a decrease in alcohol percentage: Session New England India Pale Ale. Slightly more bitter and dryer, more refreshing and refined than those of 9%.
I also think that in 2018 we will get more super hoppy, dry and tight West Coast IPAs, almost like a move against all turbid beers.
I would like to see a renewed focus on classic beers in 2018. There are many great new beers, but many excellent beers have been around for decades. I would love it if the new generation were to discover these classics. Classic Belgian Ales, the best German Lagers, traditional British cask ales.
Beer is so much more interesting than just chasing the latest IPA.
Mark is the author of various books about beer and UK Beer Writer of the Year 2016.
The taste of 2018?
New, low in alcohol and packed in a can.
New is the magic word for 2018: new wood-ripened beer, new IPAs, new stouts, new crossovers or brewing methods. Unfortunately, new is not always good. The hope for a renaissance of classic, balanced beers also comes back in different forms.
In addition, low alcoholic and alcohol-free beers will take off in 2018. And we are seeing this more and more often, especially when it comes to freshly-brewed beers, such as IPA.
My personal prediction
Personally I expect a lot of New England IPAs in 2018, because with these cloudy versions brewers can offer something fairly new in the ever popular IPA segment. Many of them will only be passers-by, only the really good ones will remain.
That will be true, hopefully, with every new beer.
We are spoiled with a lot of diversity, which for the time being is not always good. I do not see that as a problem. Let us especially welcome innovation, because the inevitable will happen anyway: the diversity remains and it will always be of better quality.
I share the hope for the comeback of classics: classic English, German and Belgian beer styles are worlds in themselves. Wonderful to discover besides all those modern beers around!