2011 is behind us and what an eventful year it was for beer. What will we see in 2012? Who the hell knows, but I'm going to give my predictions nonetheless.
- The beer style of the year? We've seen IPAs, black IPAs, barrel aged beers, Russian imperial stouts, and sours have surges in popularity in recent years. I'm going to call 2012 the year of the big lager. Imperial pilsners, schwarzbiers and entirely new lager concoctions will be the hot thing as brewers try to stand out from the crowd.
- Asheville will finally be defeated as BeerCity USA. After a three-pete in 2011, another city will rise up and take the throne from Asheville. I'd like to say it's Denver, but we do awful in this poll. I predict San Diego or Portland will take it.
- Homebrewing will continue to go mainstream. It enjoyed time in the limelight when the White House brewed a honey ale. Tech celeb Wil Wheaton got hooked on it. The Discovery channel aired Brewmasters to a national audience and The Brewing Network guys even got in on the TV action in a local way.
- Homebrewing will be legalized in Mississippi. The dedicated team at Raise Your Pints has been fighting hard for brewer's rights and I think this is the year that the state will wise up. Sadly, I don't think Alabama will legalize it this year, at least not when idiots like this are in charge.
- Washington D.C. will emerge as a great beer city. It's been coming. SAVOR gets bigger and better every year, a lot of new breweries are opening, and some in the area are already bringing home medals.
- Corporate branded beer will become a popular marketing strategy. We saw more and more of this in 2011. Companies have found that putting their logos on their own beer is pretty cool.
- Another major craft brewery will be acquired by one of the big boys. The Goose Island event will become more and more familiar.
- Sierra Nevada will open up a brewery in North Carolina. There's been a ton of speculation and I think the rumors will be confirmed in early 2012.
- Brewery membership programs will take off. The Bruery, Crooked Stave, and Flying Dog are a few that have them. Extreme beers geeks will find that membership has its privileges.
- Miller-Coors will ramp up their craft beer production and polarize craft beer geeks who will realize that it's actually pretty good but they don't want to admit it.
- Session beers WILL NOT be the big thing in 2012. People have been predicting it for years, and although they've grown in popularity, it hasn't been a major shift. Big beers will continue to dominate. This is America after all.
- AB-Inbev and SABMiller will merge. Boom! Gotta put a bold one in there. Yes it's out there, and it would have some antitrust issues, but I'm going for it. Hey, it's not totally out of the blue.
What am I sure about?
I'm sure we are about to hit a major milestone. Take a look at the graphics below and tell me what it is.
Here's to sharing a great 2012 with you all. Cheers!