Last year I made this post of predictions for 2017. It was fun and honestly, I was almost 100% right so here I am bragging a bit before introducing you to my five predictions for 2018. It’s wordier but there are gifs again. Are we even still doing gifs? Probably not, but I tried to find stock images that were both relevant and unintentionally hilarious but it was taking too long so I just went back to gifs.
Anyway, these things will all happen in 2018 and at the end of the year you’ll look back and be like “is Luke actually Nostradamus?”. Maybe…
Pub Groups and Brewpubs.
Pub groups are buying up everything. Names like Merivale, Dixon Hospitality, Sand Hill Road, Rockpool, Colonial Leisure and more are already key players in the industry but watch this space in 2018.
While there have been dalliances and sniffs from pub groups already (Dixon own Hawthorn Brewing, Colonial is Colonial Brewery, and Rockpool have the awfully trite Urban Craft Brewing brand) they have mostly played beer with a straight bat— Dealing with the majors and throwing a few taps the way of the crafties.
During 2018 we’ll see some start their own brewpubs, while other breweries and existing brewpubs will expand into more locations around the country. There’ll be so many brewpubs, you’ll be tired of brewpubs.
Pale Lager will take off
So I know people always say this and it’s a pretty cliche thing to say but it looks like the ongoing anxiety about lager is finally easing and people are coming to terms with the fact that it’s ok to make a simple Pale Lager for the mass market. You don’t need to make it like a Pale Ale and justify it in your portfolio by saying “it’s a Lager but it’s for fans of IPA”.
Further to that, I think the segment of drinkers who couldn’t care less about style, education or malt varieties, but want to support local business is growing probably faster than we realise and that’s great. Not everyone needs to have an Untappd account, or be on a “journey” into IPAs and Imperial Stouts. So it’s cool we are starting to see more and more down-the-line Lagers for them.
That doesn’t mean this IPA train is going to stop rolling anytime soon. I said NE IPA would take off in a big way but it looks like we are only just beginning with that style. I bet we are going to see some ass-awful beers that have no business being on the shelf, but we are also going to see some bloody good beers too. I do hope we also see more clean IPAs and we aren’t just going to go from caramel to haze, skipping the bright yellow, dry, West Coast style all together in Australia, but let’s see (note: yeah there have been some in that style but pre this current trend, most beers labelled as WC-IPAs were pretty sweet and malty. A few great ones started appearing and then everyone moved to NE. Also this is a weird time for geographic initialisms). Also everything is going to have fruit in it. So much fruit. I don’t even really like fruit in beers but people do because when they see the word grapefruit or lime and the beer tastes of nothing else they get a real thrill and say “oh wow, you can really taste the grapefruit or lime”.
Anyway, things are going to get swampy and fruity and no doubt people are going to complain about it, a lot.
Wine and beer and spirits and collaborations:
Things are going to get all mixed up and topsy turvy out there. Already we’ve seen Whisky barrel aged red wine, breweries making “natural” wines, countless wineries making beer, all sorts of beer and wine hybrids, and cider makers collabing with whisky distillers. In 2018 it’s going to get even weirder. Expect far more distilled products from breweries, breweries making more wine and probably upsetting wineries in the process, and all sorts of weird and wonderful fermented products that are neither here nor there but are probably going to be pretty good. Or bad. Who knows.
Fortunately it looks like a lot of it is going to be in collaboration too. We’ll soon forget about “Beer Vs Wine” and “Cider Vs Beer” and everyone will just embrace delicious drinks, share knowledge, and help each other out; regardless of where the sugar came from.
Copyright and label issues:
Someone asked me about a beer the other day. “Is it actually beer? it doesn’t say it on the label” they said. The can was brightly coloured and the most prominent word was the name of a fruit. It indeed did not say “beer” on the label but it was in fact, beer.
How long until a kid somehow gets their hands on such a can and the whole media collapses down on the beer industry in outrage. While it may not result in huge fines or whatever (it’s a confusing regulatory system) it may mean the 60,000 playful cans you printed up for the next fruited Berliner may need to be junked. This, from the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code:
(iv) using imagery, designs, motifs, animations or cartoon characters that
are likely to appeal strongly to Minors or that create confusion with
confectionary or soft drinks; or
(v) using brand identification, including logos, on clothing, toys or other
merchandise for use primarily by Minors.
How many beers can you think of that could fall under that wording?
The other issue which this also touches is copyright. Star Wars or Sesame St may be fun and cute to parody but they are also gonna cease and desist some butts if brewers keep pushing the line. We’ve seen an increasing amount of art theft, meme usage, logo stealing and more used on beers. It’s all in good fun, sure, but as this industry grows then more and more people start paying attention and some breweries will learn that creators hate having their work pinched (he says, unironically on a post full of gifs lifted from the internet).
I’m pretty sure we are going to see increasing instances in the next year where breweries need to trash a product for one of these two reasons.
Staking my reputation on bold claims and gifs. Will AoaT be as relevant in 2018? Would love to hear your thoughts. Honestly, I would.