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Beer trends to watch in 2022

Image: Missy Fant/Unsplash

I know: 2021 was going to be THE year--pandemic winding down, the "new Roaring '20s," all of it.

Summer came, and it seemed like life was getting back--even a little bit--to normal-ish. People went ahead with their weddings, neighbors gathered for late-summer parties, and friends

Image: Elevate/Unsplash

gathered in taprooms once more.

Winter, though--well, I don't need to tell you what we're going through now. Again, we ride it out because we have to.

And to pass the time, what else would we talk about but beer?

First, a quick 2021 review:

The beer style that we saw so much of during the year? Probably sours--even small breweries that we wouldn't have expected to wade into the lacto or brett arenas came up with some new recipes, some of them using the newly discovered Philly sour yeast. (A new product from a major yeast distributor, which calls the strain of yeast "selected by nature" which I guess sounds better than "cultured from a scraping from a tree in a cemetery in Philadelphia.")

Even at a major-label-filled liquor store, in 2021 we saw far fewer bottles of beer--the main form factor was 16-oz cans. Now that I think of it, I don't think I've seen a bomber bottle (the formerly ubiquitous 22-ouncers), except maybe to hold the odd Allagash special release.

Local beer in 2021 meant that beer lovers did a lot of hanging out in cordoned-off parts of parking lots, "found" patios, converted barns, and meadows-turned-gathering spots. Taprooms grabbed any outdoor space they could, as many places still had restrictions on gathering indoors. Some of the outdoor spots were pretty memorable, actually.

So what's to come in 2022?

  • Increased emphasis on lighter lagers and ales, like a classic cream ale

  • A look back/forward to the OG craft-beer styles like "amber" and true West Coast ale

  • True outreach to and emphasis on attracting a diverse customer base

  • Breweries small and large, local and national, will write and be held to HR policies addressing working conditions and discrimination of all kinds.

Well, as we ride out this latest Covid wave, and we look toward warmer weather and the prospect of gathering in groups again, please be well and dream of drinking, debating, and enjoying beer very soon.


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