One thing is clear when talking about craft beer trends: The future is hazy.
An informal survey of some Alberta brewers shows many believe New England-style IPAs – cloudy, unfiltered IPAs that deliver big citric and tropical hop flavours with low bitterness – will remain popular this year.
But with IPA and all its new variations dominating the craft scene, many are predicting that traditional styles, particularly lagers, will make a comeback as brewers try to stand out from the pack.
However, a turn to traditional styles doesn’t mean creativity is on the wane. As the province’s scene matures, Wayne Sheridan of Situation Brewing sees consumers paying more attention to subtleties rather than constantly craving novelty via boozier and more extreme beers.
“In general, our trend projection is towards more well-crafted but perhaps less over-the-top,” says Sheridan, who said Situation will continue its series of tea-flavoured “Afternooner” saisons and the “WTF” sour beer series using different fruits.
In the “traditional” column, Bruce Sample of Elbeck Brews is bringing back his Texas Bock, but he’s also planning a modern twist on two European styles: An orange wheat beer that blends traits from German hefeweizens and Belgian witbiers.
At Town Square Brewing, co-owner Brandon Boutin said there are “Old World traditional beers” in the works, as well as session ales and less conventional sour IPAs.
Hans Doef of Blindman Brewing in Lacombe also predicts more breweries will make lagers. However, he adds that more breweries will begin experimenting with different grains – like triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye.