Time to try my hand at some more beer predictions for the coming year. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a big theme of 2009 is "the economy"—recession, frugality, hard times, etc. This will hit all areas of beer and brewing; witness AB-InBev’s closing of the Stag Brewery in London (though in 2010) as an example.
So, this has been on my mind as I’ve tried to read the tea leaves and come up with some ideas of what might be coming up.
Prediction #1: Beer prices will continue to rise. I think this is pretty obvious; beer prices rose over 2008 and will continue to do so in 2009, both because of hops and malt shortages and because of, well, the economy. On the other hand, higher beer prices won’t necessarily deter people from buying beer—especially since the alcohol alternatives, wine and liquor, will also rise. (See prediction #3.)
Prediction #2: Surging interest in/prominence of homebrewing. Brewing your own beer is more economically sound than buying craft beer, it’s creatively rewarding and fun, and it can be a great social activity. Spurred on by the rising prices of beer and the need to be more frugal, homebrewing will become more popular and we’ll be seeing more "mainstream" coverage of it.
Prediction #3: Rising popularity/acceptance of (craft) beer over wine, liquor. This has been going on for some time now, especially as beer is gaining more acceptance as a sophisticated beverage, and since good beer is still so much more affordable. Beer is the new wine, after all. Think about it: for $8 to $12 you can get a six-pack of a world-class craft beer, or a single bottle of (possibly mediocre) wine. So this is kind of my no-brainer, cheater prediction.
Prediction #4: Food and beer. Another no-brainer. Food and beer pairings, beer dinners, and the like have been becoming "the thing" for a while now, and Flavor & The Menu magazine is calling beer the Top Culinary Trend for 2009. Seems pretty clear-cut to me.
Prediction #5: Oregon brewery growth. Even in the face of a down economy that is affecting craft brewers elsewhere—for instance, Carlson Craft Brewery announced Tuesday that they were closing, and Sacramento Brewing closed their Citrus Heights location—Oregon breweries will thrive and in fact increase in number. It is, frankly, a little inexplicable, but the trends for beer in Oregon seem to be up no matter what; in addition to at least five openings in 2008, we already know of Brewtal Brewing opening in Bend in the Spring sometime. Beer is strong in Oregon.
So there we go; let’s see what 2009 brings!