Session #117: With a Chance of Meatballs

 Illustration: 'Bloggs Cumulo Nimbus IPA'.For the 117th edition of The Session our host Csaba Babak asks us to ‘capture ONE thing you think we will see MORE of with an explanation of the idea’ – admirably simple and clear!

We couldn’t resist tak­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty to revis­it our pre­dic­tions for 2016 from last Christ­mas:

  1. Anoth­er big brew­ery takeover of a British craft brew­ery. (Not yet.)
  2. More beers mak­ing a fea­ture of malt, herbs and actu­al fruit. (Kind of.)
  3. Birm­ing­ham goes ‘craft’. (Also kind of.)
  4. A main­stream hazy beer. (Not yet.)

We put for­ward that last one as a ‘fly­er’ but it doesn’t feel as ‘out there’ as it did even ten months ago. CAMRA has made (let’s word this care­ful­ly) small ges­tures towards acknowl­edg­ing unfined beer. Most of the canned IPAs and pale ales we’ve picked up late­ly have poured hazy and the peo­ple we’ve been drink­ing with – not beer geeks – weren’t appalled, if they even noticed. ‘New Eng­land IPA’, of which cloudi­ness is a key char­ac­ter­is­tic, has become the sub-style of the day. As we said back in Decem­ber 2015, cloudi­ness is great for mar­ket­ing peo­ple because it’s a ver­i­fi­able and easy-to-spot point of dif­fer­ence which is already being exploit­ed by big cider mak­ers.

So, we’re going to refine our orig­i­nal pre­dic­tion to side­step debates about wheat beer: we expect to see the UK launch of at least one main­stream, hazy pale ale or lager from a larg­er brew­ery and, in gen­er­al, more delib­er­ate­ly hazy or cloudy beer on sale out­side spe­cial­ist venues. Bear­ing in mind it’s tak­en John Smith’s et al 25 years to get on the gold­en ale band­wag­on it might not be through one of those real­ly big brands but we can def­i­nite­ly imag­ine see­ing some­thing on the ale shelves in a super­mar­ket, per­haps from with­in the Marston’s empire.

Now, this isn’t some­thing we’re wish­ing for – it’s just our read of the way the wind is blow­ing. Whether the clouds it is bring­ing are fluffy, friend­ly ones or the dark har­bin­gers of a storm prob­a­bly depends on your point of view.

3 thoughts on “Session #117: With a Chance of Meatballs”

  1. Its cer­tain­ly the case that the fun­ny old men who moan about hazy beer being the “thin end of the wedge” etc etc are increas­ing­ly look­ing out of touch with real­i­ty.

    Hazy beer will nev­er catch on” is up there with “you’ll nev­er see craft beer bars out­side of the met­ro­pol­i­tan beer bub­ble” and “wether­spoons will nev­er embrace craft beer”, which we used to hear all the time a few years back.

  2. The real­i­ty of beer is that near­ly every pint you see in pubs is clear, and hazy beer is still very much the excep­tion.

    By the way, a haze doesn’t both­er me – this was just a real­i­ty check.

  3. I don’t think you’ll be that far off with pre­dic­tion 1, though it may end up being in the first half of 2017. Four­pure or Thorn­bridge seem the most like­ly tar­gets.

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