Independent Manchester Beer Convention: What are the top trends in craft beer?

By James Beeson contact

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Related tags: Beer, Brewing

Hazy, full-flavoured session beers and lager are just two of the trends to look out for in craft keg beer over the next 12 months, according to industry professionals at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention.

The four-day festival, now in its sixth year, took place at Manchester’s Victoria Baths last weekend (28 Sept-1 Oct). The Morning Advertiser​ spoke to brewers and industry experts to find out which beer styles and brewing techniques they think will be popular in keg in the next year.

Darron Anley, owner of Siren Craft Brew in Berkshire, said he believed “juicy session beers” were where the biggest growth was likely to take place in the next 12 months.

“Session beers are going to be very popular,” he said. “Low bitterness, juicy session beers will be big in volume. Double IPAs are also selling really quickly; it’s something we do a little bit of, but from our side sessionable and really drinkable beers are where the real trends are.”

English styles in keg

Elusive Brewing owner Andy Parker echoed this sentiment but predicted the decline in cask sales might lead to more English style beers being produced in keg format.

“We’ve seen a bit of a decline in cask beer towards keg so maybe we will see more English styles in keg,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting. We are seeing a lot of demand for fresh juicy IPAs, which are going to keep selling I think.”

“We are focusing on diversity. We get a great demand across all styles. We produce a lot of Belgian styles as well as experimenting with malts so we are going to focus on maybe bringing out some malt-forward beers and trying to maintain a diverse range.”

Andrew Cooper, one of the founders of Wild Beer Co in Somerset, also agreed hazy beers would be popular, but also added interest in barrel-aged beers will rise.

Over the next 12 months, I can see the trends in craft beer kind of staying the same really,” he said. “Hazy IPAs are going to be a big thing and are continuing to be where the craft beer aficionado heads are going.

“There is going to be a lot of experimentation with mixed fermentation beers as well. Our focus over the next year is going to be around more barrel-aged and foudres-aged beers.”

Drinking less and drinking better

Jonny Garrett, head of marketing for Cave Direct and founder of YouTube’s The Craft Beer Channel, said that the industry focus predicted lager and hazy beers would prove popular.

“In terms of styles, lager [will be popular],” he said. “It’s about time the craft brewers started taking over that segment as well, pushing out the bigger guys and putting out some really good, proper lager, and there is a real thirst for it, particularly within Cave Direct. Quality craft lager is selling really well.

“The trends beyond that are continuing trends really: IPA, particularly the West Coast-style, low bitterness and hazy stuff is selling really well. People really don’t mind haze anymore so we are getting more and more flavour and depth into our 4-5% pale ales by adding haze and hops, and lowering the bitterness.

“We’ll also see higher ABVs as well; it’s going to keep going up and up, which makes me very happy because that is where the real experimentation happens, between 7% and 9%. People are being less fussy, drinking less and drinking better.”

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