Craft trends predicted to reach mainstream menus

Brews News’ coverage of the US Craft Brewers Conference (2nd-5th May) is brought to you by Rallings Labels, Stickers and Packaging.

The hottest beer styles inside the beer bubble have barely made a dent in mainstream beer lists in the US, atendees of the Craft Brewers Conference were told, but this could start to change.

In his presentation Instagram Vs Reality, analysing beer trends at restaurants, Kyle Chamberlin, senior account manager with data analytics firm Datassential looked at how different the trends in the craft beer ‘bubble’ were from those in the mainstream restaurant industry.

Chamberlin told the conference that while craft beer generated a lot of attention, the mainstream consumer’s experience was very different.

“The reality is, most beer drinkers are accustomed to something that looks a lot more like [restaurant chain] Applebee’s menu than Monk’s Beer Bible,” he said.

“[Most menus] are a couple of beers with a handful of words at best crammed into the corner and most people aren’t lining up around the block for 25 dollar four-packs.

“They are having an IPA with a burger at their local restaurant or gastropub.”

He pointed out that 37 per cent of the top 250 beers on Untapped were Imperial Stouts, and the average ABV was 11.48 per cent.

“Is that what someone is drinking with a burger at a gastropub?”

Chamberlin said that while in the craft beer space, beers he characterised as dark and heavy, hazy, and wild were trending, he said there was “insurgent” interest in “light and refreshing” beers as well.

He compared that to his company’s survey of 4,800 restaurant menus around the country which found that the top 5 beer descriptors were IPA, Lager, Ale, Pilsner and Pale Ale, with IPA penetrating 55 per cent of restaurant menus.

Two of the top trending descriptions were Hazy IPA, New England IPA, with Kolsch and Blonde Ale also growing.

He said the word “hazy” was appearing on 8.9 per cent of menus, up from zero just a few years ago.

At the same time, when his company conducted surveys of all beer drinkers, they preferred clear beer styles over hazy two to one.

“So while hazy has hype, filtered has the volume,” he said.

Chamberlin said the word ‘sour’ was a big mover on restaurant menus, growing to almost 10 per cent penetration, though he said this was fruited sours, not traditional sour styles.

“Lambics are not what’s going on restaurant menus. That’s not to say they’re not selling at your brewery, but they are not making the restaurant menus for average beer drinkers.”

He said the words associated with sour on menus, were basically all fruit.

“The future of this style is going to be the fruity and refreshing style.”

A big trend he predicted was session and low and no alcohol beers, noting that a third of beer drinkers who said they were drinking less were interested in non-alcoholic craft beer as well.

The Craft Brewers Conference is currently underway in Minneapolis.

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