Phew, 2017 is finally over! Which means it's time to look ahead to what’s next. This week, we asked the Fervent Few for their beer-related resolutions. What do they want to see more or less of in 2018?
Bryan Arndt: “I'd like to see more small, local breweries taking on the hot styles of the moment (IE: NE IPA). My hope is that 2018 is the year that these breweries begin to master the style and push the category forward as a whole. This would be especially appreciated in markets that have significantly lagged behind the breweries and markets that have defined this style to date. It feels like 2018 will define the direction for a lot of these small, local breweries—will they ride the wave of new styles, or will they stick to traditional styles and risk getting left behind?”
Robbie Wendeborn: “Breweries should make a thoughtful and intentional effort at increasing the diversity in their workforce and customer base.”
Carla Jean Lauter: “I'd love to see more of the super geeky stuff, like a beer brewed with the same recipe but using hops from different states (IE: Oregon vs. Maine vs. NY, etc.) or brewers messing around with yeast, blending, etc. New and interesting doesn't always have to be hoppy, hoppy, hoppy.”
Johnny Swinehart: “I would like to see a real push for date coding as a standard and not just a novelty.”
Brad: “My beer resolution for the year is to increase the amount of thought and effort that I put into tasting. Whether they are a little gimmicky or not, I've gotten some black wine glasses to use for blind tastings. And I went out and bought the Cicerone flavor map to use as reference when I'm trying to nail down specific flavors. I don't want to get too geeky and have that overtake my enjoyment of the beer, but I think understanding and possibly recording the things that I experience while drinking beer could change the way that I view all beer.”
Threefrenchs: “I would like to see more beer drinkers admitting to themselves and everyone else, that it’s OK to like a beer regardless of who brewed it, how big they are, or who owns them. If that means that you’re mixing your micros with your macros, that’s cool. I always support local when I can. But that doesn’t mean you’re exclusive. The more pro brewers who talk about the beers they really drink, the more this culture will change.
Secondly, I would like to see more small, local breweries stepping up their game. Way too much average beer. I want to see breweries put their own twist on a style. Take some risks and make me want to come back and try your next creation.”
Daniel Blakely: “Personally, [I’m] looking to be a better taster and have a stronger understanding of technical issues in beer. For the local beer, I'd like to see some new event styles coming to the forefront! Every year we have the same lineup of events that are basically just connecting with their small core of supporters. How about growing the brand through unique charity or community event?”
Zack Rothman: “I’d like to see consumer focus shift from beer ownership to beer quality. The infighting that goes on among people who love beer not only makes it less fun but hurts the category as a whole. If beer is to continue growing and to compete with wine and spirits, beer needs to follow their lead and put more of a priority on making good liquids and connecting with consumers. I hope one day this ownership debate will be behind us. Maybe this will be the year!”
Brad Redick: “One of the things that would make beer more fun for me is if Trillium and Bissell Brothers added a brewing facility in Texas—more specifically, the Dallas area. I really enjoy their beers, but my main problem is their proximity to my everyday life. Everything short of that happening is probably going to be a let down for 2018. In theory, more dry-hopped Lagers would be welcomed, but I'd still be wishing that ol' Trill Trill and Biss Biss were here in my backyard. Putting aside the black cloud that is the absence of Trill and Bissell, I'd like to see brewers start to fetishize freshness when it comes to Lagers. I dream of a world filled with cloudy, full-flavored, tongue soaking Lagers meant to be consumed within 60 days. Lagers with a lush, velvety mouthfeel, delivering hop notes across the palates of an awakened mass of beer drinkers is my dream. They take their first sip and they gaze at the beer in wonderment as they start to question everything they thought about Lager. This is the future we were born for. This is the timeline I want to be on. Let 2018 be the year that these god-kissed Lagers grab more share of throat.”
Caldwell Bishop: “Personally, I’d like to brew more beer at home and find a few styles that I am consistently able to produce that I’m proud to share with others. I’d also like to establish a range of 5-10 commercial beers that I can consistently go to for sharing with others or just relaxing on the weekend.
In the broader beer industry, I’d like to see more attrition with average or bad breweries being forced to either improve or drop out. Options are great, but I personally think that the ability for breweries to get by on being one of the only local options is hurting more than helping in the long run. It always stinks as a customer to end up spending money on bad beer that costs as much as something you’d want to share with others.”
Dave Riddile: “I'm working on a project currently to promote education across my local market. I'm a firm believer that a solid path to growth is education for brewers, those serving and selling, as well as consumers. Not to say that there aren't a lot of resources out there already, but a local initiative that brought together the best beer minds in North Texas among those three groups would help us hit the next plateau as a market. This has been kicking around my brain in pieces for the past few months, but finally came together a couple weeks ago. A moment of clarity. A lot of the things I'm seeing as challenges to market growth and reaching new consumers could be solved with an organized education campaign.”
Lana Svitankova: “My beer resolutions for next year is to become full-fledged BJCP judge (upgrade from provisional one), to run the BeerLovers Marathon in Belgium, and to write more about beer—it doesn't matter either if the writing is educational or for fun only. As for wishes, well, I’d just like things to keep going here in Ukraine. I wish to travel more, meet more brewers and beer lovers, and share all the fun with people who can really appreciate it.”
Dennis Talon: “A resolution for beer in the area I live and drink would be a modernized alcohol retail environment (but that's crazy talk). I suppose I'd settle for more appreciation for modern and classic styles among the more engaged beer-buying public (I want to live in a world where I can get a Mild on tap, and an NE IPA, a milkshake-style IPA, etc.), more focus on bad vs. good rather than craft vs. not craft, less flights and more pints.”
Jim Plachy: “I’ve decided that, in 2018, every time I go to buy beer, I’m going to buy some cider as well. I didn’t drink nearly as much great cider this year as I would have liked.”
James Hernandez: “In 2018, I’d like to drink more beer out of cans. I want to drink more Lager and pay less attention to DB social media beer troll groups.”
Stefan Wiswedel: “What I'm looking forward to in the nascent South African beer scene is breweries diversifying. Many of our breweries are producing the same few styles of beer, some good and some bad. I'm looking forward to brewers starting to experiment as the beer consumer in South Africa matures and grows aware of what is happening internationally. I'm also looking forward to seeing breweries embracing what makes them unique amongst other craft brewers, not just being unique compared to the macro breweries. Finally, I can't wait for South African breweries to embrace their South African-ness, and start playing with and showcasing local ingredients, local stories, and local culture as they become more comfortable with experimenting. I think 2018 is going to be a great year for South African beer!”
Mark Tenhagen: “I’m excited to see what happens as haze chasers begin to branch out into other styles of beer—something brewers and retailers will have to encourage. I hope that it’ll create a 2018 where drinkers who had their minds blown by NE IPA/DIPA in 2017 begin to seek out more diversity, and I hope brewers respond by making styles like Pilsner, Lager, Saison etc. in a way that haze fans can get just as excited about them.
More quality breweries moving to cans, and better quality canning—no more oxidized beer!
Also, I can’t wait for more breweries to evolve their taprooms from a weekend popup to a fully fledged onsite offering, so an afternoon or evening at a taproom is a viable alternative to one at a pub. It’ll be nice to bring more non-beer fans along without it having to be a ‘brewery visit’ occasion, and not have to compromise on facilities, heating, and food options.”
Shannon Vinson: “More diversity! More environmental and sustainable business practices. Better labor practices and wages. More fun! More 8oz cans!”
Jaron Wright: “In 2018, I am going to make a better effort at ordering a beer other than an IPA for my first round. Too many times do I lament that there aren't any good ‘insert-style-that-doesn't-get-enough-love’ and then i proceed to order the new IPA on tap.”
Mat: “My 2018 Over-The-Top-He’s-That-Weird-Beer-Guy Resolution: I’m planning to go down the Cicerone path with black glasses, tasting notes, and off-flavor kits. I’ve done this once before, have all the books, and am generally inclined towards nerdery. As I’ve mentioned before, craft beer is still catching on where I live, so I want to be able to better educate, explain, and assist folks in a grocery aisle or the local watering hole when they inevitably approach me. (This actually happens often. Maybe it's the beard?)
In a more selfish sense, I want to embody the exact opposite of the finger wagging, drink-this-not-that, blind flag waving craft beer bro that’s popping up across the current craft beer landscape. I see abundantly educating myself and learning to share that passion in layman's terms as a first important step in bringing more folks into the fold.
2018’s More-Normal-Resolution: Drink more 12-packs. This makes sense to me for two reasons: 1) price point. I’m a new dad and we’ve gotta save for my son’s college. Also, I guess food and clothes are important to kids? Someone once told me that. Seems suspect. 2) familiarity and knowledge. Drinking through a 12-pack of the same IPA, Lager, Porter, Pale, etc. gives me the chance to truly know a beer or hone in on a specific hop. Also, if you drink the same beer over the stretch of three-four weeks, you get to see how it changes. Or, how it doesn’t. Recently, I’ve had Sierra Nevada Pale cans that were four-months and one-month old, respectively. Seeing how that beer doesn’t lose hop sharpness was eye-opening. They’ve made basically a bullet-proof Pale Ale and that’s astonishing to me. Also, I’m odd so that kind of thing is exciting to me. I’d like to make a few more of those kinds of discoveries in 2018.”
Nick Naretto: “I plan to buy and drink more four or six packs instead of getting a wide variety of single bottles. I would like to see less attention on what makes a beer craft or independent and more attention on great tasting beer. I hope for more beer education for the general beer drinker and not necessarily just the beer geeks. Most of all I plan to spread the gospel of great beer by documenting it, drinking it, and giving it. It’s far less intimidating for someone to enjoy a new beer when they have nice starting place, whether that’s a picture to look at, a story to read, and even drink a free beer that someone randomly left in your fridge.”
Kristen Foster: “In 2018, I am personally going to invest more time in learning about brewing techniques and the technical aspects of various styles. I have a solid foundation, but want to understand the processes, ingredients, etc. on a deeper level. In terms of the industry, I am curious to see how business models continue to evolve. Two thousand seventeen was a huge year for on-premise and taproom sales, but as of now, there's not a good way to gauge the true impact across the industry. And for bars, how will they adapt, partner, improve.”
Nick Yoder: “For the industry as whole, I really want to see more date coding and more distributors pulling out-of-code beer, and retailers purchasing what they actually will go through in a timely manner. I also hope to see taplists with less emphasis on IPA. I'm tired of having one or two non-IPA choices on double digit tap lists. For myself, I want to drink more cider and start buying more six packs instead of singles.”
There’s a whole new year ahead of us. How will we change the way we think about beer? How will the ways we buy and drink beer be different? We’ve got a year’s worth of weekly topics to debate and discuss. I can’t wait to see what we come up with in 2018. Thank you so much to all the Fervent Few members for an incredible first year—2018 promises to be even better and weirder.