Here are some of the hottest trends in craft brewing, as seen at the annual festival in Denver last weekend.
Tasting innovation at the Great American Beer Festival.
Hot off the heels of the coffee beer trend comes craft beer brewed with tea, although fan favorites like coffee beer and chocolate beer were still in high demand. Brewers used a variety of teas- from green to black- to concoct new creations. Some notable beers were Palm Shade with Guave and White Tea by Cruz Blanca Brewery, Mister Tea by The Rare Barrel and Ten84- Red Berry Tea by Right Around the Corner. The Red Berry Tea beer combined two of this year’s craft beer trends- tea and fruit.
Blueberry beer was a huge trend this year, with seven breweries featuring beer made with blueberry, like Blueberry Lemonade Shandy from Saugatuck Brewing Co. Some notable wins in fruit categories were Blood-Orange Wit by Great Basin Brewing Co.- Sparks, which won silver in the Belgian- Style Fruit Beer category, Cherry Wheat by Sierra Blanca Brewing Co. which won bronze in the Fruit Wheat Beer category and Pink Passionfruit Sour by BearWaters Brewing Co., which won gold in the Fruited American- Style Sour Ale category. Especially cool was Zoned AG Golden Raspberry by Corralitos Brewing Co., winning bronze in the Fruited Wood and Barrel- Aged Sour Beer category.
Brewers are enjoying the unique tastes that come from aging their beers in untraditional barrels. Beers this year were aged in bourbon, whisky, wine, scotch and tequila barrels to make the most of the aging process. For wine barrels, Terroir Pinot Noir by Alesong Brewing & Blending won silver in the Experimental Beer category, making this trend here to stay. Also notable were Forty Winks: Wine Barrel Aged by Fernson Brewing Company and Chateau Racquette Red Wine Barrel Aged Golden Ale by Horse & Dragon Brewing Company. Some scotch barrel aged beers were Tears of My Enemies- Scotch Barrel Aged by Monday Night Brewing and Barrel Aged General MacArthur’s Scotch Ale by Westbound & Down Brewing Company. Whisky barrels were good for aging multiple types of craft beer, such as (512) Whiskey Barrel Double Pecan Porter by (512) Brewing Co and Wheat Whiskey Barrel Aged Dbl IPA with Grapefruit by 14er Brewing Company, the last taking advantage of the fruit trend also. Bourbon was another brewer favorite, lending itself to the aging process for many types of creative craft beer at the festival. Some examples are the 2017 Bourbon Barrel Aged Home, Sour Home by The Rare Barrel, Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Quad by Ancestry Brewery, Black Note Borbon Barrel Aged Stout by Bell’s Brewery, Inc. and Buorbon Barrel Aged Fruit- Full Fort by Dogfish Head Craft Brewer, once again combining two of the year’s biggest trends. Last but not least, tequila lovers got to taste beer aged in tequila barrels as well, from brews such as DNR Cask-It: Tequila Barrel Aged by COOP Ale Works, Tequila Barrel Aged Gose by FATE Brewing Company and Tequila Barrel Aged Sour Ale by Loveland Aleworks.
This year, craft beer fans with a gluten allergy could enjoy more variety in their gluten- free beers. A dark ale won bronze and a blonde ale won silver in the gluten-free category. Puckerbery by High Hops Brewery won gold in the category.
More and more people are getting certified as cicerones, the beer version of wine sommeliers. Several cicerones delivered fantastic food and craft beer pairings at the Great American Beer Festival in 2018, giving attendees some delicious food to eat while enjoying perfectly paired beers to go with it. Expect more people to become familiar with cicerones in the next few years, as consumers become aware of the power of a proper food pairing with their favorite craft beers.