Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What does the future hold for beer in 2009?

I had mixed feelings about 2008. For many, it was a year of a tough economy, too many political ads, high gas prices during the summer and another stock market crash. Even in the beer world we saw the rising price of a 6-pack, the hop and malt shortages and a huge cop out, er I mean buy out of Anheuser-Busch to a foreign company InBev. Perhaps it is best to say "good riddance" to last year. 2009 is already here and while I hate to make new year resolutions, I do like to look forward to what the new year may have in store for our beloved beer.

Homebrewing rekindled

Even in a recession, beer drinkers love their suds. While higher costs at the liquor store may force some to choose a cheaper brand, you'll probably not find too many people who are willing to give up beer altogether. In fact, higher costs are creating a new resurgence in the hobby of homebrewing. Craft beer may be getting expensive at the store and the lure of enjoying your own homebrewed beer for less than at the store is an attractive proposition again. I venture that 2009 will be another banner year for homebrewers and homebrew supply stores.

Better hop outlook

It sounds like the hop crop in 2008 turned out pretty good and more and more acreage was planted. It will take a few years for the newest hop fields to come into fruition but the fact that hops are on the comeback will be great news for brewers and homebrewers. Let's just hope Mother Nature sees fit to give us a good growing season this year. The number of acres of hops should continue to grow in 2009.

Mergers will continue

First of all, I see the trend of brewery mergers continuing this year. While we might not see the blockbuster mergers like MillerCoors or A-B-InBev, we may see a trend of medium sized breweries buying up smaller sized breweries in an effort to gain some economies of scale and to broaden distribution on some of the up and coming brand names. In this economy, bigger isn't necessarily better and usually leads to lay-offs, but getting bigger may mean you've got more clout to stay alive.

Beer styles continue to evolve

As craft beer continues to grow in popularity, so will the numbers of different beer styles will continue to grow and evolve. Experimentation in brewing beer is becoming quite popular now. You'll probably see beers this year made with ingredients you never would have thought of. Just how far will it go before beer turns into something completely different? No need to worry. The old styles of brew will continue to remain popular, but you may start seeing new styles on the shelves that could draw you to try something new. Just look to brewers like Sam Calagione from Dog Fish Head. His innovative brews keep rolling off the production line.

Personal outlook for 2009

As for this beer writer, I see 2009 having several changes in store. 2009 will mark the return for me to homebrewing. I spent the last couple months of 2008 acquiring brewing equipment and now am ready to brew some of my own once again.

I will continue to seek out new brews to taste and new breweries to visit. There are constantly new breweries starting to distribute here in Colorado and it's been wonderful getting new opportunities to try new beers. I will, however, continue to support and help promote my local breweries as I want to help ensure they do well and will continue to produce great beer. High gas prices will return again later this year and cutting shipping costs by buying local will become more important.

I may also try my hand at growing my own hops this year. I debated about growing my own last year but I decide to put it off until I began homebrewing again. Well, this is the year I believe to make that happen. I've got the perfect spot picked out on the south side of my house to grow a few hop vines. Wish me luck.

I've got a lot of vacation time stored up for this year and I plan to take advantage of it by doing some beer traveling around the state. I'd like to hit up as many Colorado breweries as possible this year and eventually visit them all. I certainly won't visit them all this year, but that's OK. It'll give me more to do next year as well.

There will be plenty of beer fests returning again in 2009 and I'm going to try to attend as many of them as I can. You can bet that I'll be back at the Great American Beer Festival again this year in September. I'm going to make an entire week of it and do more video, both behind the scenes and in front of the tables.

I'm excited about 2009. What do the rest of you have planned for this year in beer?

Related articles:
- All Colorado Beer Fest.
- Great American Beer Festival.
- Odell Small Batch Beer Festival.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com
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