New beer trends: Suds experts forecast brew guzzling for 2013

For the latest in new beer trends, we asked some professional brewhounds to appraise the current suds climate and prognosticate the future.
 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)
Photograph: Jolie RubenGarrett Oliver, brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery ( What were the big beer trends last year?The biggest news in beer remains the explosion of craft beer and its move into the mainstream. The most telling thing is that the casual-dining chains—the Applebees and Red Lobsters of the world—are starting to realize that they need craft beer too. What beer-industry gimmicks are ready for retirement?For craft brewers, it’s the manufactured hype of super-scarce “rare beers.” For the big industrial brewers, it’s pretending to be craft brewers. What will the new beer trends be in 2013?India pale ale will solidify its position as the lead style of craft brewing, but there will be increased interest in very flavorful beers with relatively low alcohol. Any other predictions for beer in 2013?Sour beer styles, which until now have had a sort of cult status, will start to show up in unexpected places, such as airport bars. The massive success of Ray Daniels’s Cicerone beer-training program will press top cooking schools to finally build credible beer modules into their course work. Right now, professional students will get many weeks of wine training and perhaps a few hours of beer training. This bears no resemblance to real life, and people will start demanding real-world training. Forecasting aside, what would you like to see more of in beer culture?Increased understanding and respect for beer as a great partner for food. Beer has a much wider range of flavor than wine does and as a result, it’s more versatile. I find it strange that Italy has more than 400 craft breweries, but the average Italian restaurant still serves the same bland mass-market beers.
 (Photograph: Stuart Ramson)
Photograph: Stuart RamsonHayley Jensen, beer sommelier, Taproom No. 307 ( What were the big beer trends last year?Twists on classic styles. I poured lots of white IPAs, IPAs brewed with wheat in addition to malted barley. I also started to see more flavorful session beers, or low-alcohol, easy-drinking beers. Lagunitas Daytime was a real favorite of mine. What beer-industry gimmicks are ready for retirement?I think using puns when naming beers has been way overused. I hope I never hear another hop pun! Also, I think huge industrial breweries should stop trying to release specialty and seasonal brands to compete with craft breweries. I think consumers can see the difference. What will the new beer trends be in 2013?I think we will continue to see a surge in sessionable beers. If breweries continue to release lower-alcohol beers that are as flavorful as their stronger counterparts, I believe that people will really take notice and start demanding them. I also think we will see a lot of innovative new adjuncts (nontraditional beer ingredients) in 2013. People really enjoy sampling beers with different herbs, spices, flowers and fruits. Any other predictions for beer in 2013?I think we will see better beers on more beer lists. More people are craft-beer drinkers than ever before, so they are demanding a few good choices on every beverage menu. I think this will lead to beer pairings on tasting menus and beer cocktails on specialty drink menus. Forecasting aside, what would you like to see more of in beer culture?I would like to encourage people to remain curious and excited about trying new beers. I never want anyone to feel that they cannot ask questions or sample new things.
 (Photograph: Noffar Gat)
Photograph: Noffar GatDavid Cichowicz, owner, Good Beer ( What were the big beer trends last year?Session pales and IPAs, meaning hoppy, pale ales with lower than 5 percent ABV. This year saw 21st Amendment’s Bitter American pale ale become a full-time [offering] instead of being just a spring seasonal [item], as well as new releases from Lagunitas (Daytime IPA) and Founders (All Day IPA). People love their hops and flavor, but they’re [also] looking for a beer that they can drink a lot of in a long session. Typical 6.5 to 7.5 percent IPAs take you out of the game too early. What beer-industry gimmicks are ready for retirement?Wildlife on the labels. Not sure why so many craft brewers put animals on beer labels. What will the new beer trends be in 2013?For brewing, probably more sours and more sessionable beers. For the industry, more breweries opening in general. Any other predictions for beer in 2013?Price increases. They’re unavoidable when you combine increased costs of materials with tax-law changes negatively affecting small brewers. Forecasting aside, what would you like to see more of in beer culture?I’d like to see specialty, high-gravity beers—specifically barrel-aged stouts and barley wines—get more small-bottle treatment. I often turn down taking home a special beer because the 13 to 18 percent ABV coupled with the 750-milliliter size puts me off. First, I need a group of people to try such a beer, and if I don’t like it, I’m stuck with a large, expensive bottle that I don’t want to finish. If it’s in a 12-ounce bottle, I am always willing to give it a shot.
Mike Lovullo, specialty brands manager, Union Beer Distributors What were the big beer trends last year?Beer drinkers now have sessionable ales with complexity, so they don’t always have to go to light lagers when they want to have a few in one sitting. Wandering Star’s Mild at Heart clocks in at 4.4 percent and is a deeply roasted English session beer. There’s also Professor Fritz Briem Grodziskie ie, a 4 percent smoked sour wheat ale based on a recipe from early-1900s East Prussia. What beer-industry gimmicks are ready for retirement?Imperializing everything. Sure, such styles as imperial stouts and double IPAs have their place, and we’ve come to expect to have an option of both in any beer bar. However, when imperial milds, pilsners and porters—styles that should all be under the 6 percent mark—start showing up, it’s just drinking high-alcohol beers for the sake of drinking high-alcohol beers. What will the new beer trends be in 2013?Now we are seeing black a lot before the style name.  Bronx Brewery released a Black pale ale. There also seem to be more schwartzbiers (black lagers) out in the market. The new Queens brewery SingleCut has their John Michael. It’s a deeply roasted dark lager that comes in at 6 percent. Any other predictions for beer in 2013?There are a lot more nano and small craft breweries slated to open up in 2013. Yes, there are a lot of larger breweries operating full-time, but more and more part-time, if you will, breweries are popping up. I see the United States brewing culture turning into that of Belgium, [where] smaller breweries are run in the free time of the brewer. Take [Belgium’s] Brouwerij Smisje, for example: Johan Brandt started the brewery at the end of 1995 and only brewed one barrel once a week! Forecasting aside, what would you like to see more of in beer culture?As great as it is to see bars and restaurants in New York City supporting more local or regional breweries, I still feel a lot of establishments limit themselves by just pouring regional and domestic or just offering imports. If the beer is good, carry it, whether it be from New York, California, Norway, Italy, or Spain.
 (Photograph: Noffar Gat)
Photograph: Noffar GatJulian Kurland, beer manager, the Cannibal ( What were the big beer trends last year?Collaborations between brewers. [Producers] are traveling across the country or to a different country to [facilities] they respect to [make] new and exciting beers. We’ve seen a lot of that recently, especially with Brian Stillwater. He’s released four new beers in collaboration with French and Italian breweries that are all fantastic. What beer-industry gimmicks are ready for retirement?Gimmicky beer packaging and names. I remember we had one beer that was in a Pepto-Bismol–pink packaging. The beer wasn’t anything to write home about, but people bought it fast because of the silly name and bright [wrapper]. More and more people are changing up their labels so they look more sophisticated, because half the time, people are buying beer based on the way the bottle looks. What will the new beer trends be in 2013?I think that we are going to see a lot of new breweries that are only specializing in making one style of beer. That started to creep up locally last year with the emergence of breweries like Bronx Brewery and Alphabet City Brewing Co. They now each have two brews in their lineup, but it wasn’t before they spent time really perfecting each of their recipes that they moved on to making a different style. Also, as craft beer starts to gain a larger following in the U.S., I think more and more breweries are going to move to canned beer. Any other predictions for beer in 2013?I think that we are going to see a huge shift in the way restaurants set up their beverage lists. No longer is it really about a massive 100-bottle wine list with only two or three beers, it’s about having a list that’s equally balanced between both. You look at places like Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad and you’ll see what I’m talking about. These are some of the best restaurants in the city and their beer lists are pages long. Forecasting aside, what would you like to see more of in beer culture?I’d like to see people expanding their horizons more and being more open to drinking different styles of beer. I love getting a person in here who tells me what type of beer they like to drink but are totally open to going in a different direction. We curate that experience for them based on the food they are having and what they like, but we are opening them up to new things they haven’t had before.
By Sarah Bruning |

New beer trends are a mixed bunch, so to separate the wheat from the chaff, we enlisted the help of five professionals, including Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver and Taproom No. 307’s Hayley Jensen. Living and breathing craft beers, these brew pros know what to sip and what to toss. Click through to see their predictions—from complex session beers to black ales—for 2013.

RECOMMENDED: This year’s guide to the best beer in NYC