5 Beer Styles to Sip (and Sell) This Spring

2/25/2019

Warmer days are ahead. We promise.

And when that great thaw finally arrives, your customers will arise from their winter hibernation with one thing in mind: spring.

For your customers, spring means many things, the beginning of patio season, the first days of grilling outdoors, lighter fare and similarly, lighter beer styles. This spring, breweries have brought to market new lagers that are crisp, clean and brilliantly refreshing, as well as ales that are fruit forward, both berry-tart sours and citrusy IPAs. Health-conscious options are also trending this spring, as brewers continue to be inspired by consumers’ active lifestyles.

As you set your beer selection for spring, consider keeping it well rounded and aligned with consumer trends. Here are our five style suggestions you should consider tapping into this spring.

 

Fruited Sour Ale

2018 was the year that sour ale went mainstream.

A few years ago, sour ales were hard to find and for some consumers, hard to love. Their puckering, and sometime funky, flavors were divisive among consumers. While some consumers were willing to venture far and pay a pretty penny to drink these complex ales, others passed on the style altogether.

To reach more consumers, breweries began to create more approachable sour ales that were infused with fruits and crafted to a lower, more sessionable ABV. As a result, the style took off and sales of the style rose 42.7 percent, with consumers spending more than $14 million dollars on sour ales between July 2017 - July 2018.

This spring, fruited sour ales are expected to continue to grow in popularity, and this year, there are several options coming out in canned packaging for the very first time. This new format for sours ales makes them even more approachable as consumers will be able to try the beer style without having to pay the price for a full 22 oz. or 750ml, which was the traditional packaging choice for the style.

 

Hazy IPA

IPAs make up six percent of the U.S. beer market in terms of sales. The beer style continues to be a consumer favorite and has evolved over the years to remain aligned with consumers’ tastes. During the past two years, we have seen the style evolve again as consumers shift away from the bracingly bitter west coast style IPAs that have reigned for so long at the top of the sales charts, and instead reach towards the juicy and easy drinking Hazy IPAs.

Need proof that the Hazy IPA style isn’t just a passing phase? Consider this, at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival in September, 414 beers were entered in the Hazy IPA category compared to only 331 for American IPA. For the first time in more than a decade, the American IPA is not the top category at the GABF, which is a strong indication that Hazy IPAs are dominating the craft beer landscape right now and will continue to do so for at least a while longer.

 

Mexican-Style Lager

Ever hear the saying, “It’s hard to improve on a classic?” Ok, so maybe we just made that up, but nevertheless, the saying rings true for Mexican-style lagers.

Mexican-style lagers have shown consistent growth for years. They appeal to customers looking for a beverage this is refreshing, approachable, culturally authentic, and most recently, considered craft.

While imported Mexican lagers continue to dominate the category, American craft brewers are beginning to catch up. Although they lack the authentic cultural ties, American-brewed examples hit the mark on being true-to-style in flavor. Clean with just a hint of grass, easy drinking and low in alcohol, American-made Mexican-style lagers are slightly hoppier than the imported versions, but they still pair perfectly with warm weather fare and outdoor adventures.

 

Pilsner

The lager category has seen its sales soar during the last three years, part of a pendulum swing led by consumers gravitating back towards more easy drinking, lower ABV and approachable beers. This year, breweries have taken a strong liking to pilsner–a subcategory of lager–and as a result, we’ve seen a wave a new American-made craft pilsners enter the market.

Pilsners are near identical to their cousins, the American lager, except that pilsners have a slightly more peppery bite, thanks to a subtle addition of Czech hops. American examples of the style tend to go a little bit more generous on the hop additions to adjust to consumers’ palates.

American brewers have also been known to experiment with the style, adding fruits like lime to the beer as well as forging traditional Czech hops in favor of using citrus-forward American hops. The resulting pilsners are uniquely American: crisp and clean to drink, and yet bursting with big citrus flavors. They’re the ideal spring “food beer,” as they pair just as well with grilled chicken and burgers, as they do with light salads.

 

Health-Conscious Beers

This last beer style isn’t so much a specific style, but instead a consumer trend.

Breweries have taken note that consumers not only want a beer that tastes great, they also want it to fit in with an active and health-conscious lifestyle. As a result, breweries are developing craft beers that are lower in calories, lower in alcohol, gluten-removed and infused with super fruits, herbs and spices that may contain health benefits.

These beer styles range from sour ales to pale ales, but what they all have in common is that they’re brewed with the health-conscious consumer in mind. As the warm weather heats up, and your customers spend more time being active outdoors, we suggest you have a few of these mindful options ready for when they’re looking for refreshments.

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