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Niagara Craft Beer Trends 2018

The Craft beer explosion began with a bang. Hops were everywhere. IPAs lead the charge at the beginning of the decade. From there we saw a focus on sessionable IPAs and Pale Ales, which then lead into where we are sitting with Sours and Gose’s. While IPAs have never really drawn back, new styles have come to the forefront with Milkshake IPAs and New England style IPAs becoming more and more popular. We asked the industry professionals what they thought (or did not think) would be the next upcoming trend within the beer world.

I think sour beers will continue to dominate, and people love their hoppy IPAs. The Milkshake IPA is pretty trendy, it’s a little more fruit forward and sweeter, not as bitter, and then there’s the New England IPA which is super-duper hazy. I don’t think hops will ever be gone, but they’re starting to dwindle. But sours are definitely becoming a mainstay.
— Christine Nagy

I think this is the year where sour beers really hit the tipping point in Ontario. It’s a style that’s been popular in Europe and the US for years, and we’re starting to see it happen here now. Sour beer isn’t necessarily the best description, but as more people are introduced to the style, they find they are really drawn to the intentionally acidic or tart taste profile.
— Anthony D’Aprile

Let’s see how the crystal ball is working. Not sure what other’s will be doing but we will continue, as we have, focusing on drinkability and repeatability. Session ales, lagers, balanced sours all the while keeping it real, chill and casual. In this day and age of folks want to know where their food and drink ingredients are sourced and how it’s made.
— Dave Beifuss

Sours still have a lot of legs. Trends will always spike and dissipate and they will always be changing, but I personally think that we are going to very soon see a return to classic styles done really well. I think that the appreciation for a well made English Bitter for instance is on the upswing. Not everything has to be 100 IBU and 11 percent ABV and full of fruit or hops. I think that just like the fashion industry, once you swing to an extreme, once it has lived out its time, you tend to go back to something a little bit more traditional.
— JIll Currie

It’s been a struggle for the craft breweries to change people’s palates but we finally have and people are looking for anything new and different. Fundamentally though, beer has to taste good however experimental it is. Focusing on flavours that work together is key. The trends of big hoppy IPA’s and light, fruity Saison’s are waning to more traditional Belgian Style beers and darker ales and porters, often with special twists like non-conventional ingredients to make them unique.
— Eric Martin

The most popular trends in beer right now are the Milkshake IPA which thankfully I think is starting to die down already and the birth of the NEIPA bringing in the obsession with juice and haze. With summer right around the corner I am sure you will be seeing all sorts of ways to incorporate fruity things into the beer and some people I am sure going as far as Raddlers and Shandys. I believe there is also going to be a lot more ciderys and breweries working together on collaborations to bring the two markets even closer together.
— Zack Gagnon

Sours and barrel-ageing! At least if we were worried about following all the trends that’s what I’d have to say. However, for us, we are seeing more families enjoying craft beer, and the craft beer atmosphere. Not just in our venue with the biergarten, German/Austrian restaurant, or the fact that we are kid/family (change table, and kid specific games) and dog friendly, but in other situations like the Brew in the Zoo beer festival; there are more socially mature people enjoying craft beer. The craft beer customer is more sophisticated and they are ones who can enjoy hand crafted ales and lagers in the most responsible of ways.
— Wolfgang Guembel

I think that it’s a challenging thing to think of. Within the beer community, these waves are really small. I think it’s important to contextualize where we are. When we talk about a big trend towards sours, what’s that: 0.002% of the market? It’s a really, cool phenomenon in a small community. I really think and hope that what the future holds is that people want to pick better beer. I think were going to see aficionados who are going to start to snub the gimmicks and look to those breweries that are producing meaningful interpretations of new styles.
— Chris Pontsioen

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