Forecasts for 2019: how the beer market in the UK will develop
In 2019, several interesting trends were observed in the craft beer market: the growing popularity of NEIPA, the emergence of many new sauers and (finally) the return of high-quality lagers. But what surprises does 2020 prepare for us?
Matthew Curtis: “It’s time for crafting to go beyond the boundaries of his own world”
For British beer, 2018 was the year of ups and downs. Large brewing companies are increasingly buying craft breweries – as is the case with Beavertown and Fourpure, for example. Depending on your point of view, this can be considered both a positive phenomenon, because more and more people get the opportunity to enjoy good beer, and as a negative trend, indicating that large brewers are digging their teeth deeper into craft. Meanwhile, the world’s largest brewing company, AB InBev, has opened the Goose Island Pub Brewery in the Shoreditch district of London. On the other hand, I personally was very saddened by the closure of one of my favorite London beer bars – Mason & Company.
And now, when it seemed that it couldn’t be any worse, from the annual report on beer sales we learn that the volume of sales of helmet ale fell by as much as 6.8% compared to last year. No matter what you think of this beer, it is an integral part of British beer tradition. This unexpected fall should be cause for concern.
But there is good news. Despite the prevalence of negative, I still think that the last 12 months have been mostly positive for British beer. According to the British Bar and Pub Association, there are currently 2,500 breweries in the United Kingdom. Despite difficult market conditions and rising costs of doing business, many breweries continue to grow. In addition, more and more bars, taprooms and shops selling bottled beer are opening – in particular, away from large cities. This means that good beer is more affordable than ever.
The New Year brought with it uncertainty, largely due to the threats to our economy associated with Brexit. However, in my forecasts for the next 12 months, I decided to focus on the positive aspects. It is necessary to remember the problems faced by the British beer industry and take active steps to improve the conditions for both producers and consumers. But the most important thing that you should not forget about is that we should all enjoy beer and enjoy it. So, that’s what I’m most looking forward to next year.
Lager fully equipped
Pilsner and Helles undoubtedly distinguished themselves in 2018, which can reasonably be called the year of the craft camp. The Lost and Grounded Brewery from Bristol launched the flagship Keller Pils, and new breweries such as Donzoko from Hartlepool have brought many pleasant surprises in this category.
I suppose that the popularity of the camp in 2019 will continue to grow, especially considering the number of breweries expanding their capacities and striving for the production of quality products. However, the more lagers appear, the more inventive the brewers will have to show in order to get our attention. For example, they can take advantage of alternative bottling methods, such as Czech side or “slow” taps, from which beer is poured over five minutes with the formation of fragrant foam clouds. Or explore the potential of amber and dark malt and offer new varieties of dark beer.
The bright return of hard hat beer
Despite the fact that cask beer is currently losing its popularity, I believe that this is a temporary phenomenon. Brewers are more and more carefully approaching the format of the drink they make, the choice of customers and their training, and this should certainly return the attention of consumers to the hard hat beer. The Cloudwater brewery’s return to helmets can be considered a minor event, but other breweries will certainly follow suit. And let’s not forget about Siren, which, after winning the Champion Beer of Britain award for the Broken Dream Breakfast Stout, has sold more than a third of its beer sales.
It also seems to me that the love of traditional beers will return. This is indicated, for example, by the appearance of Best from Harvey in such relevant London establishments as The Ax in Stoke Newington. Another sign is that Northern Monk in its new Manchester taprum offers Timothy Taylor from Landlord. All this suggests that these and similar varieties still have a certain potential.
More wild beers and sauers
Thanks to pioneers like Burning Sky and The Wild Beer Co. wild beer and sauers have become an integral part of the UK’s rich beer scene. More and more breweries offer matured barrels and mixed and wild-fermented beers.