The desires of the beverage-consuming population seem to wax and wane with each year. The Aperol Spritz, then the espresso martini; every year has a signature drink. As the beer world is subject to the same consumer whims, these are my predictions for beer trends in 2022.
The rise of the lager
IPAs and ales have long been the darlings of the craft beer world, but lagers are coming back in style and will be for a while. Forever now, it’s seemed like all you had to do to be considered a “good” craft brewery is to throw a ton of hops into your beer and call it an IPA. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, IPAs were the catalyst for the craft beer revolution; all the beer snobs loved them. The thing is, you can also make a shitty, overly bitter beer. The craft beer world is overly saturated with IPAs and Ales – enter, the lager.
Lagers are harder to make and require more patience, but a good lager is comforting and nostalgic for most of the world. Virtually every country’s “national beer” is lager; the sweeter, less bitter taste of lagers has made them generally more palatable.
But they haven’t had much time in the craft beer spotlight to this day. I’ve noticed a few breweries start to diversify their lager offerings; I even found a few fresh hop lagers this year. I predict this trend will only get broader, so I’m excited to see what breweries manage to do with them.
Low alcohol beer/seltzers
Okay, though not technical beer, relevant in the same conversation. We’re already seeing more and more breweries (along with wineries and distilleries) stepping into the seltzer game. It’s an easy sipper that is popular with the masses; someone brings a case of White Claw to a party, and nobody complains. Even the beer snob in the corner is secretly thankful he’s about to be drinking hard seltzer instead of that pastry stout when drinking games come around.
Seltzers are generally low alcohol percentage, which is another trend for beer, wine, and spirits. Easy to justify with the health-conscious and, to be honest, they don’t make you feel too bad.
This is only going to continue over the next year. I’m a bit bearish on the staying power of the long term, but hard seltzers at least have another 2 or so years of market share.
You’re missing out if you haven’t got onboard the smoothie beer train. These beers are very out there and fringe on not really even being beer at all. So far, I’ve found they can be a bit divisive; people generally love them or hate them.
Pioneers like Great Notion from Portland, OR, have been the best in the game, and I imagine a few other breweries will start experimenting with them soon.
This is another one where I think it’ll be a trend for the next year or two, but I’m not sure how much longer it’ll stick around after that. But I’d love to be wrong!
What do you think? What other beer trends are you looking forward to in 2022?