2021: The year in beer
- Credit: Museum of East Anglian Life
Like everything beer and brewing follows fashions, fads and trends. Here's what to expect in the world of brewing this year.
These fad and fashions are in turn impacted upon by other factors such as the economy, and in 2021, Covid-19.
Among the hardest hit sectors of the economy is the hospitality industry. But with pubs and bars shut breweries and bottle shops are continuing to trade.
René van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, said customers were moving away from the American craft beers that have dominated in the past few years and returning to more traditional types of beer.
"Customers are going back to the Belgian beers, they're not all that interested in the USA beers," he said.
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"For us, 95% of our sales are Belgian beers now.
"The American beers are also becoming a lot more expensive. We've seen an increase in price of around 20-30% on those beers — I think it's because of the dollar compared to the euro and the increase in the price of shipping.
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Mr van den Oort said this is not the first time Belgian beers have been popular.
"I saw it happen in the 80s when Belgian trappist ales became really popular right across Europe," he said.
"It peaked again in the 2000s and then it came down again around 2012. And now it's going back up.
"It seems to go in ten or 12 year cycles."
Fergus Fitzgerald, head brewer at Adnams, has also seen the decline in the popularity of American beers.
But he believes there could a rise in the popularity of another American export.
"I think there will be a bit of an interest in hard seltzers," he said.
"It's an American concept which is basically an alcoholic fizzy flavoured water. It's being sold as in the US as a low calorie alcohol because it has no residual sugar.
According to Mr van den Oort other beers from around Europe could also be on the rise.
He said: "The variety coming from Europe is huge.
"There are some really good Greek breweries, which I haven't stocked yet — but we're working on it.
"There's some good small Portuguese and Spanish breweries. There's some new German breweries which are now exporting more which is quite interesting to see.
"And there are even French breweries which is unusual because France is the country of wines, of course."
But Mr Fitzgerald people look closer to home for things they know and understand in a vastly changed world.
He said: "I think some of the old English styles of beer could grow.
"I don't know whether comfort is the right word or not, but people are looking back at the classics now.
"You saw that a little bit last year with the rise of craft lagers. People were just looking for a well made classic lager rather than looking for the next big thing."
And for those who may just miss a pint of ale in the pub during lockdown, Mr Fitzgerald recommends trying mini-kegs that can be bought to drink at home.
"That sort of format lends itself to the classic English bitter."