Saturday, 9 January 2010

"Emerging Trends in World Beers"

I'm writing a short feature for Off Licence News about trends for world beers in 2010, and the short term beyond. Working in retail, I know very clearly what they are, and who will be buying them.

But I'm curious as to what you may think. If you had to identify a couple of trends in world beers in the take-home market, what would they be? What's going to become more mainstream in 2010? And how will the beer geeks stay cutting edge - they don't want to drink the same as everyone else, so what will they move on to?

(For the avoidance of doubt, let's be clear that "world beers" basically means imported, non-domestically produced beers)


  1. I'm no take home drinker, but I would think there will be a continuing improving market for American beers, moving away from IPA style beers to the more unusual ones. Dark beers of all types may well make a bigger impression. Bigger bottles to share will become a growing market, providing the urge to gouge on prices is resisted. There will be a continual and noticeable trend towards quality for those lucky enough to have some money.

    Those big enough to make market penetration like Sierra Nevada will become (more) mainstream. Imported bottled mainstream lagers will decline as beers like Peroni become the norm for this kind of drinker. There are few niches for this kind of import now, though draught will increase at the expense of bottles and push some domestically brewed under licence beers such as Holsten off the bar. They will decline more or less to the point of disappearance. The performance of the pound will dictate a lot of this though, as will the economy, which will continue to push home drinkers to the cheaper end of the market.

    As for the geeks, though not specific to this year, they will run out of room and become more mainstream too once they've "been there done that".

    But of course if you already know the answer....

  2. Well, I only say I know the answer in the sense that I know what I'm writing for the article!

    I think you've totally hit the nail on the head with American craft beer. This will be the year that it will really break big. Speaking to the importer for Sierra Nevada, the increase in their imports has been staggering. With Stone talking about opening a brewery in Europe, Flying Dog and Brooklyn becoming much bigger brands (also confirmed by their importers), the growth in American craft beer is set to continue. And of course, BrewDog brewing what is essentially American craft beer will help this move forward.

    This will also help the geeks, as importers who have trade links the US will use them to bring in more unusual beers from better-known brands (Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock? I'd never heard of it until the importer asked me how much I wanted).

    Moving a little further into the future, I also think that Italian craft beer has the potential to be big. It has a good range of breweries, working with many different ideas, and there is something for everyone. And as you know Tandleman, the Bieres Sans Frontieres bar at the GBBF is always a good indicator of trends!

  3. I hope that US beer will flood over to us this year. But one of the big things is going to be the cost of these new beers. I'm happy to spend a lot on a bottle of new beer if I've heard good things about it but it needs to be at a price which means I can realistically by them again, if I want to.

    To stay cutting edge with beer geeks will mean a constant flow of new beers. Things move so fast in the world right now that things get old incredibly quickly. I remember how piss-my-pants excited I was when I first saw Dogfish Head 90 minute at GBBF. Now I see it at Utobeer and it's 'just 90 minute IPA'.

    As for Italian beer, I hope you are right but I can't see it being more than the occasional cask and few bottles. I hope one of the bigger breweries commits to sending lots of beer and then others follow.

    I think you should get a cask system set up on the bar at Beer Ritz and offer fresh cask beer as take out. Sell some nice bottles or growlers too. If people want to buy bottles to drink at home then why not a bit of cask beer? An off licence near me does it (set up, but no longer owned by, Paul Bailey, who blogs).

    On-line could continue to increase. Everything can be bought at the computer and delivered to the door, so this will probably rise. It takes away the human touch and the tactile nature of picking up bottles and reading the labels, but it's easy.

  4. I think ingredients will be a key feature. Punters want to know what’s in what they are necking. Wifebeater arrested the decline by pointing out the 4 ingredient s of their grog and Beck’s Vier is the stand out success in the world of lout.

  5. From a New Zealand Beer Retailers point of view the trends are very similar. American beers are selling very well and I suspect will continue to do so in the year to come. English regional/family brewer brewered beers are probibly in decline, as are German and thankfully Asian imports.

  6. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is all over the place now. In Leeds, over the past year it's cropped up in Adelphi, Nation of Shopkeepers opened with it on draught and you can now buy it in Shipley Asda as well as Oddbins in Leeds. No doubt there are many other mainstream places around Leeds and indeed the country which are carrying it.
    And it's great!
    I don't know what's going to be in store for 2010 (no pun intended! but that's a pretty good pun anyways), I'm looking forward to seeing a growth in this area.
    I'd like to see the beer aisle become as complex as the wine aisle in supermarkets but there has to be the demand for it stretching beyond just us beer bloggers.
    I just hope that at alongside this growth there's a wider appreciation of some of the fantastic UK breweries (Harviestoun, BrewDog, Thornbridge, Marble etc) get a bigger share of the market too.


  7. US imports are the growth area, can't see beer from anywhere else having the same thrust in 2010.

    What would I like as a trend is a bit different.

    I'd like to see UK supermarkets and other beer retailers provide an outlet for the diverse micro breweries that are popping up over here. I adore many US craft beers and would like to see our densely populated little island/s show what we can do too, and have somewhere they can sell it profitably. (I don't include you in that Zak, you do a fine job and are tight on space as it is I imagine!)

    Also better distribution for the UK breweries that are getting on with the job in hand, making great beer. I love being able to find beers from all four corners of the globe and sampling them but sometimes I struggle to find bottles of beers brewed in Yorkshire, which is simply ridiculous when if I wanted I could live off a drip feed of Sierra Nevada and never leave an LS postcode (as nice a life as that may be!).

    I hope there'll be more off-trade focus on local beers too and an ability to sample everything the UK has to offer as well as the produce of the rest of the world.

  8. The article has now been finished, and in the process of it, I spoke to a couple of importers. They both agreed that US craft was a major growth area (Sierra Nevada UK import volumes have doubled every year for the last three years). Perhaps surprisingly, they both flagged up German beer as showing both good growth, and also scope for continued growth.

    Apparently, a lot of smaller German breweries are looking to export their beers, which flies in the face of German tradition, whereby the beer and brewing scene is incredibly localised. One to watch there, Tandleman?


Sorry about the word verification - the blog was getting spammed to bits.