Top 5 Craft Beer Trends in 2022

Happy New Year! I imagine the first thing on everyone’s mind leading into the brave new world we now know as 2022 is, “So what’s going on with craft beer this year?”

Good thing ThirstyVinyl has the answers for you!

Here are the Top 5 craft beer trends you'll see this year, some of which may surprise you.

1. Craft beer will cost more

It’s no secret COVID has caused supply chain shortages across the globe, which continue to create a plethora of problems, including increased costs for producers and increased prices for consumers. For craft brewers, essential supplies like aluminum are going to cost more, which will present a problem, especially for smaller breweries that survive more on the margin. Unfortunately, the magical dance of open markets we call economics won’t rely on supply and demand to set prices. Instead, supply shortages will drive prices up causing beer consumption to go down. Does that mean that 2022 is the year people start drinking less craft beer?

2. Don't call it a comeback, lagers have been here for years!

Lagers are the most popular beer in the world (they account for 87% of beers consumed in the U.S.) thanks to mass produced beers like Budweiser, Coors Light, Corona and Michelob Ultra. However, a lager revolution is coming in the craft beer world too – mark my words. Ales, like IPAs, will always have their place, but lager is becoming a more important part of the craft lineup. Lagers appeal to more consumers and the style of beer is ripe for true craftsmanship since lagers are generally harder to brew and more prone to showing flaws.

3. The haze will dissipate on the horizon

Hazy IPAs dominate many craft brewery lineups and for good reason – they’re delicious! Also known as New England and unfiltered IPAs, hazy IPAs venture away from the traditional bitterness of the IPA, making them more accessible to the masses, and into a fruit-forward style that makes them easy to drink and stealth at masking a bigger ABV punch. However, the revolution of more traditional and classic styles of beers, like lagers, will undoubtedly cause hazy IPAs to have less of a presence in the craft beer scene. The style of beer isn’t going away, or even close, just don’t expect to see the haze dominate the landscape like it has over the past few years.

4. I need more cowbell ... and malt

Recent trends show more craft brewers moving to styles of beer that allow the malt and their brewing process to be the stars of the show. In fact, in 2022, American barley farmers are predicted to increase their production in anticipation of new brewers that will need the crop to perfect their craft. Beer made with craft malt, especially locally farmed malt, is trending up. A great example is New Belgium’s malt-forward, Old Tuffy light lager that’s sourced with craft malt from Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina, not far from New Belgium’s operation in Asheville’s craft beer haven. Another example is Brewer’s Art, Resurrection, an Abbey-style dubbel and local favorite of mine having grown up in the Baltimore area. As brewers look to separate themselves from their peers, we will see more craft breweries embrace locally grown barley to malt for their beers.

5. "Sip sip pass" the THC and CBD infused beer please

With CBD now legalized across much of the United States, and THC too to a lesser degree, expect to see more marijuana find its way into your beer. It only makes sense for cannabis and hops, both part of the Cannabaceae flowering plant family, to unify more often and on a broader scale in 2022. Building off recent success, many craft breweries, including mega craft breweries like New Belgium (The Hemporor) and Flying Dog (Hop Chronic THC Infused IPA) are planning to launch marijuana-infused beers this year. The approach will likely be limited run releases to test the market and to play the slow game as the legal system slowly cracks the door to legalize it open to all.

Cheers to a healthy and happy new year infused with music, beer and good times!

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