This was another great year for our local beer scene where we saw breweries such as Able Seedhouse, Lake Monster, Lakes and Legends and many more open their doors for business. We saw Dangerous Man introduce their barrel aging program, Fair State and Indeed brought forth their sour programs, and Bad Weather got themselves a new home in St. Paul. With 2016 right around the corner, I decided to look ahead and forecast what we might see happen in the next 12 months.
1. Local collaborations: We haven’t seen a ton of this in previous years, but I think we’ve come to a point where we will see some breweries putting their best foot forward in unison to bring us some lively brews. Our friends over at the Growler have been hard at work putting together “In Cahoots” which is an event that they host every summer encouraging which encourages local breweries to collaborate on brews that people can enjoy at the event itself. Can you imagine the Hoops brothers collaborating on one? Now that would be one tasty beverage.
2. Special beer verticals in taprooms: Now that some of these breweries have been in operation for a couple years, I think we will begin to see “mini-events” that feature verticals of vintage specialty beers. Take Steel Toe for instance. They held an event back in November called “A Barrel-Aged Trifecta” which featured 2015 Barrel-Aged Dissent, 2012 Barrel-Aged Lunker, and 2014 Barrel-Aged Lunker available as a flight or on their own. I could see breweries like Surly or Indeed doing something similar with Rum King or Darkness, and the turnout would be huge.
3. Locally made cocktails on tap lines at notable bars around town: Technically this is already happening at Republic Seven Corners right now where Tattersall has a couple different “pre-mixed” cocktails available on tap. This is certainly a way for local distilleries to get their products into popular bars around town and showcase some of the flavors, all while maintaining the consistency by eliminating poorly made drinks. I could see this gaining momentum as the popularity of locally made spirits seems to be on the rise.
4. The rise of the Lager: Lagers have a bad reputation over the years thanks to large breweries that are more interested in volume than flavor. This is a big misconception in that you can make some damn tasty Lagers without sacrificing quality or flavor. Expect to see a rise in Lagers (such as Pilsners, California Common, Amber Lagers, etc) being brewed around town and maybe with a little twist—especially at smaller breweries (think Town Hall) where they have more freedom to change up their beer menus frequently.
5. The “death” of struggling breweries: No one wants to think this will happen, but it is inevitable that at some point some of these breweries will not make it. I honestly don’t think there will be a lot of this going on at this point, I just feel that this might be the year we see one or two turn off the lights. This should also serve as a reminder to support your local brewery and give them honest feedback so that they can fix any issues with their beer, service etc. Trust me, they’d rather hear that than close up shop.