It seems as if there are new craft beers undergoing development every day, and believe me – I’m not complaining. All I’m saying is there’s a lot to keep up with. There are thousands of flavors, styles and smells to experience any time you walk into a new brewery. Do you prefer an IPA or a lighter, fruitier beer? One with a heavier punch – or a sweeter cider? So many choices and decisions to make. But while these brewers are still coming up with new recipes and beers, I’m still going to try them.
According to the Providence Journal, “Lagers have staged a craft comeback, with a hand from hops. That piney, citrus-tinged ingredient, central to craft beer’s most popular style — India pale ales — has been central to giving lagers a needed, and delicious, jolt.” So there’s the IPL – India Pale Lager. While these hybrid categories aren’t new, they certainly haven’t been widely accepted. Everyone semed to come up with the idea at the same time, and many people feel as though the IPAs still overshadow the IPLs – although there is an obvious difference between the two. “IPLs shouldn’t numb your palate with hops and alcohol the way many imperial IPAs do. Ideally, the clean lager finish should serve as a canvas to show off the subtleties of the hops.” Head brewers have mentioned that it’s probably not a trend that will just come and go, because generally, people like lagers. They have a lower alcohol content, meaning you’re not going to leave the bar after a few beers feeling loaded. What’s funny, though, is that hops it the main ingredient in these new IPLs. But hey – if it’s lighter and doesn’t sacrifice the taste, I’m all for it. The Washington Post states that “Ales undergo a vigorous, short, warm fermentation that produces a fruitier, spicier, funkier brew. They can tolerate a more aggressive hopping with strains full of earthy, resiny, floral and citrusy notes.”
I’m not sure of any local breweries that have produced an IPL, but this style has become a staple in the seasonal lineups for many breweries. Beers such as Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL, and the relatively new Magic Hat Dream Machine, among them.
Another trend that seems to be surfacing in many craft beer conversations is the rise of sour beers. It seems to be another style that contains a lower alcohol content. Perhaps people just enjoy hanging out at a bar longer and don’t want to reap the consequences of having a massive hangover in the morning. Or maybe it’s just an experiment to see how many flavors they can add to beer. Either way, something tells me this is not the end of experimenting with new flavors and styles to see what people like best. And surely, some trends will not remain popular or stay on the market for long (think Budweiser and Clamato Chelada and Polk-County mimosas – sorry if you love them.)
“Building off classic Belgian and German styles, U.S. brewers are using wild yeast and bacteria to create beers that range from slightly tart to downright puckering,” according to USA Today. “Women, in particular, seem to gravitate to sour beers,” says Kim Jordan, who co-founded New Belgium in 1991. “Where more of the mainstream beers in the U.S. have been seen as a man’s drink, I think craft brewers are more approachable for women,” she says. “Some particular styles, sour being among them … are really appealing to women because they are sophisticated and flavorful and not crazy alcohol bombs.”
Brouwerij Lindemans‘s lineup of fruity lambic beers, such as Framboise, is one big example that this style is gaining traction and isn’t going away. Also, opening in our very neighborhood is a sour-centric brewery, Tangent Brewing, soon to be located in Safety Harbor!
So there you have it – just a couple new trends to look out for. I know for me, personally, these collaborations are something I think I’ll really enjoy. See you at the next happy hour – and don’t forget about this awesome event coming up hosted by Tampa Bay Brewing Company.