2021 Craft Beer Industry Trends
While 2020 was a challenging year for many industries, the craft beer industry included, artisan brews are more popular than ever, as it has been reported that for every craft brewery that closed during the pandemic three have opened in their place. This immense surge in popularity has given rise to many new trends as brands strive to differentiate themselves amidst a saturated market and cater to consumers’ continually changing tastes and interests. In our latest blog post we take a look at some of the trends that are shaping the craft beer industry in the second half of 2021.
Originating in Belgian and Northern Germany breweries, sour beers have been gaining traction stateside and continue to be a popular choice for US consumers in 2021. With a distinctive flavor profile created by naturally occurring lactic acid, sour beers appeal to consumers who are looking for something new or those who do not normally consider themselves beer drinkers, as its sweet and tart fruit flavor is more palatable than hoppy IPAs or dense stouts. Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, estimated that sours are up by 25% or more in volume and sales in each of the last two years, with brewers constantly innovating to create new iterations of this popular beverage. A departure from traditional flavors like raspberry and blueberry, brew masters are experimenting with more unique ingredients like cucumber, lime, guava, and yuzu.
Love them or hate them, hard seltzers seem like they’re here to stay. Following the great success of commercial hard seltzers, regional and microbreweries are joining the trend in order to stay competitive. Innovation in the hard seltzer market continues to grow with a broader range of flavors, more low-calorie and functional offerings, and a wide range of cocktail-inspired seltzers. Unique flavor combinations like blackberry sage, strawberry, lemon, and basil, and passionfruit papaya are capturing the interest of consumers with adventurous palates, while more health-minded individuals will enjoy those seltzers imbued with antioxidants and Vitamins A and C derived from natural sources like acerola. This hard seltzer category has great potential as more consumers are looking for interesting flavor profiles and lighter beverages they can enjoy while still meeting their health and wellness goals.
Low and No Alcohol
As more consumers are choosing to cut out or cut back on alcohol for various reasons, the market is responding with a wider range of offerings with little or no alcohol. Often lighter in calories as well as flavor than traditional beer, brewers are looking to maintain an enjoyable drinking experience by infusing these light-bodied beverages with fresh botanicals, fruit, and herbs. Hop-forward, citrus flavored, and enhanced with herbs like fenugreek, cinnamon, and black peppercorns, those looking to avoid ABV’s won’t be missing out on flavor. Brewers are also rolling out non-alcoholic beverages that contain fresh tea, sparking water, or even coffee for an extra twist of flavor.
Pushing through one o the most difficult times in modern history, brewers are leaning into creative interpretations of trends in order to capture consumer interest and meet their demands. Passion fuels craft brewers forward and inspires them to keep innovating in order to create unique beverages every kind of consumer can enjoy.