It’s prediction time again! Just as we always end a year with toadying ‘best of’ lists, we traditionally begin the next by putting our wafer-thin reputations on the line. Following the uncanny accuracy of our 2012 predictions, look out for the following five things to become very real in the world of beer over the next twelve months. Or not…
Unfined beers go to the next level
Vegans everywhere rejoice as sales of unfined beer continue to increase, as ‘doing less’ becomes the new ‘craft’. Thus, ‘crafty beer’ is adopted as the on-trend for breweries struggling in the midst of Broken Britain’s never-ending recession. From label-free bottles (Marble’s ‘Lucky Dip’ series) to casks shipped with fistfuls of hops still inside (conveniently similar to those that are dry-hopped), the peak is reached when ‘untrubled’ beer becomes the new ‘unfined’. Bloggers everywhere rave about the flavour properties of yeast and hop detritus, as Hawkshead release their seminal Coconut wheat porter ‘Truble in paradise’.
Alternatively – The fledgling ‘crafty’ beer movement implodes spectacularly after an ill-judged series of beers from top British producers. RedWillow’s Conditionless scores 0 on RateBeer, as Summer Wine go even further with their small-batch ‘unfermented’ range of lukewarm amber-ish liquors
BrewDog release the litigious hounds
Keen to stay at the very forefront of the modern, no-holds-barred, uber-cool brewing scene, BrewDog’s army of legal advisors – second only to their PR legion – issue trademarks for all of their Twitterspeak terms. Overnight, they suddenly take bloggers to court for using any of the following words – punk, scamps, pups, bitches, pow!. However, BrewDog themselves are then subjected to a writ from the makers of the original Batman, as 20th Century Fox are revealed to actually hold the global patent for the word ‘pow!’ BrewDog’s #lunchtweets become far less interesting as a result; ‘5am Saint and a tuna Ryvita. You? #goodnessme #heavenstobetsy’
Alternatively – Always eager to play the underdog, BrewDog change their entire branding and packaging design to plain brown, with beer names also amended. Bloggers still debate over the taste of new Pink IPA, 78 lager proves popular, and Swedes go even crazier for ‘Hello my name is Bernard’. The Kernel sue BrewDog for copyright infringement on the colour brown; the Portman Group change their name to Punkpow Bitches! Group.
BJCP revise guidelines
Under pressure following the adoption of the ninety-first different beer style (the Imperial barrel-aged lambic, or Bueuze), insurance companies refuse to cover beer judges, placing competition appraisal in the same dangerous pastime bracket as free-diving or Geordie-goading. In frustration, the BJCP tear up the rule books and revert everyone to the brewing stone-age with only two categories – ‘see-through’ and ‘non see-through’. The RateBeer and Beer Advocate databases meltdown and accidentally launch nuclear missiles at each other, causing Armageddon and a global winter that lasts two hundred years (as a result, the see-through category becomes much harder to win).
Alternatively – Seconds before the icy European bad guys of Ratebeer lock on to the co-ordinates of Beer Advocate’s hollowed-out volcano, the BJCP relent and decide not to do away with their guidelines after all. In celebration, they announce the ninety-second type of beer for competitions – the South Korean Western-style fruit saison, or Gangnam style*
* With apologies to @broadfordbrewer and @TheRealPresby
Hop shortage reversed by funding from sponsorship
As the UK and US reach a combined total of 3,000 production breweries (forgetting the other, less important beer making nations of the world) hops become a highly endangered commodity. To fight back, growers around the globe sell commercial rights to multinationals, gaining vital cash to plant more acres of bines and protect the much-prized crop. In 2013, look out for such beers as Thornbridge Mr Kipling, Moor JJB, Westvleteren Police Academy 12, and the IPA of the year – Kernel E.S.S.O.
Alternatively – Desperate to protect their isolated, pure, agricultural industry, New Zealand announce no hops of any kind are to leave their shores. Taking their cues from the Japanese Shogun era, the kiwis embark on a system of Tokugawan isolationism, denying any non-NZ brewery their hops. As a result, every New Zealand beer becomes a Nelson Sauvin bomb, and beer drinkers there rejoice at the eventual appearance of Sierra Nevada’s black ships to break the blockade
Hipsters turn their backs on craft
Just as NHS specs and chunky handset phones are coming back, hipsters everywhere complete their retro full-circle by rejecting ‘craft beer’ as too forward-looking. Instead, the drinkers of Hoxton flock to old men’s pubs – in a massive irony, given their gelled comb-overs and postwar beards. BrewDog Shoreditch abandons the underground beer cocktail speakeasy, and converts the space to a subterranean ‘beers from the wood’ experience, complete with Bakelite radios and Dig for Victory posters. Ration books are issued, and the hipsters of London rejoice in depriving themselves until they can redeem their weekly mild allowance.
Alternatively – The Campaign for Real Ale get in on the act. Seizing the chance to gain thousands of new members, they announce free beer for life to anyone who gets a CAMRA tattoo. In response, BrewDog release a 2013 refresh of a classic from history – a barrel-aged version of Watney’s Red Barrel.
All of these things could come to pass (albeit probably not to the extent we think). For more crystal ball clarity – join us next week, as we list the UK breweries who we think are going to have breakout years in 2012 – and really go on to big things…