Drinks distributor Matthew Clark is reporting a 21% increase in craft beer sales and the category now makes up between 10% to 15% of all its total volume, according to category controller Justin Wylde.
Responding to this demand, the distributor has added about 100 new lines to its Boutique Beers portfolio, including the likes of Siren Craft Brew, Tiny Rebel, Thornbridge and Stone.
The Morning Advertiser headed to the launch of Matthew Clark’s new Boutique Beers range for 2018 to find out what styles and trends craft breweries themselves believe will prove popular in the coming months.
Tiny Rebel Brewery
Years with Matthew Clark: 2
Flagship beers: Cwtch, Clwb Tropicana, Dutty, Stay Puft
Co-founder Bradley Cummings said: "Low ABV session IPAs and IPAs in general are going to be popular. It is a beer style that we love; I really think we have nailed it with Dutty and that is why it is going into our core range this year. Everyone loves Clwb and Cwtch but everyone is asking about Dutty."
"However, I think that lager is also going to make a big comeback in the craft beer world. We've just launched a new lager last week called Rise at 4.2% ABV. It is a great gateway beer, and when you look at how much of the market is still lager, you'll see that we can't afford to snub it as a style.
“The technical capability is there now for UK craft brewers to make really really good lager. If you can brew a great lager, and our brew kit is advanced to the point where we can now, then you definitely should be."
Siren Craft Brew
Years with Matthew Clark: 1
Flagship beers: Undercurrent, Soundwave, Yulu, Calypso
Founder Darron Anley said: "Session beers are and always will be popular in terms of volume. Anything that is between 4-5% ABV is just going to fly. Sours are also really picking up in volume. We are starting to see some decent numbers for all of our sours and, with Calypso, we have nearly doubled production this year, which is great.
"It is great to be able to come to an event like this today and there are a lot of people who haven't tried that full range of styles that beer can be. You get that chance to explain to them and that is the fun part about it."
North Brewing Co
Years with Matthew Clark: 2
Flagship beers: Transmission, Sputnik, Herzog, Piñata
Head of projects and new openings Russ Clarke said: "The biggest barrier to growth is turning your everyday sub-premium lager drinker to literally anything else. As much as craft beer initially railed against lager, I think that producing an amazing craft lager is going to be the thing that breaks that barrier down.
“Styles like the much-lauded New England IPA are also turning people to beer that they wouldn't have normally tried because it is so accessible. It's juicy and soft and everything like a fruit juice but it is a beer as well.
“A lot of people are also talking about the Brut IPA at the moment and how the use of either Champagne yeast or enzymes to dry it out will appeal to people who are into wine. It is about adapting beer styles to make beer itself more accessible.”