I am a big fan of Vancouver Craft Beer Week. It’s fun and it brings the whole community together.
With nearly all the Lower Mainland Region breweries in one place it is a really great opportunity to consider the Craft Beer trends moving forward. Of course this can’t really be done in advance of VCBW. Even so it is fun to project or guess what the trends will be, and I’ve always thought that the VCBW beer gives us a hint of what is to come.
Two years ago Brewers brought us a Hazy Pale ale which to me announced to the community that Hazy beer was a major part of the industry and here to stay. Secondarily it might have also signalled the success of the suburban and regional Craft beer communities.
Last year, we had the Sea to Sky breweries affirm the rising prominence of regional craft beer communities, and perhaps surprisingly they made a Lager. To me this signalled that our craft beer industry was ready to move past the anti-establishment roots and include all beer drinkers.
This year, the 10th anniversary of VCBW we have Four Winds, in collaboration with Powell Beer and Dageraad brewing brewing a dry-hopped table saison.
I typed that beer style in lower case, because to my mind it is an understated style in the often violently reactionary world of craft beer.
What I take from this, and what I would predict as a major trend in the Vancouver and wider region is a push for higher quality.
It is no secret that I have been fairly vocal about beers that don’t mean my expectations but after the proliferation of craft breweries throughout the lower mainland comes a more competitive period where brewers are selling to an inclusive mature consumer base who are able to tell the difference between OK and great craft.
I believe the choice of three of the Lower Mainland’s 3 most respected breweries in Four Winds, Dageraad, and Powell beer and their choice of a simple yet dynamic style signals to the community at large that things are about to get more competitive. If you are a brewery who wants to stick around you better commit to quality.
With more breweries comes more competition, and since the backbone has of craft has always been its improved quality over macro the competition amongst Craft Brewers will hopefully yield ever high plateaus of quality.
We might also look at the expansion of high quality production in the region to consider the arms race in quality.
-Twin Sails sour program intentionally does not include Kettle Sours. committing to higher labour and cost methods of souring.
-Whole breweries committed to specific styles like Bakery, House of Funk, and Temporal.
-The commitment to high quality Lagers including Foudre and barrel aged versions like those created by Four Winds and Strange Fellows.
We might also consider the results of mistakes
-Riot Brewing on the brink of closing as sales don’t add up
Clearly all of this is guess work and conjecture bused on anecdotal evidence, but if i was forced to hazard a guess… I’d expect your average beer to rise in quality this year.