One of the key aspects of the “craft” movement is expanding the possibilities of traditional styles through alternative ingredients and different techniques. Craft brewers and bartenders pride themselves on finding unexplored flavors and pushing the boundaries of the classics to reveal something creative and delicious.

BEER TRENDS

ALL HAIL THE LAGER

2015 saw a new rise of lighter style beers such as pilsner and helles. Lagers are more diverse than that, though, and you’ll see dark-style lagers like schwartzbier and maltier styles like doppelbock or even eisbock popping up. In fact a new addition to the Northern Colorado beer scene is Wibby Brewing, a lager-focused brewery in Longmont. This trend will continue, and brewers will likely add to the traditional styles through creative use of fruits and spices.

THE NITROS HAVE IT

The interest in Nitro presentation has been growing, thanks in large part to the efforts of Left Hand and its famous Nitro Milk Stout. There are even Nitro festivals now. Cream ales and stouts usually benefit greatly from the smooth and expansive combination of nitrogen and CO2, but other styles have the potential to be served on Nitro to great effect. Even brewing giant Saint James Gate (known for Guinness Stout) is trying to stay ahead of the curve by introducing a Guinness IPA featuring nitrogen. Look for tastier local options in 2016.

WITH THE GRAINS

Grain substitution and experimentation will likely garner some attention this year. Look for different mash bills containing different varieties of wheat, corn, rice, rye, spelt, or any other grain yet to be truly exercised.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT

  • Tequila-barrel aging will rise.
  • Fruity goses and Berliner weisses will continue with more creative fruit combinations.

COCKTAIL TRENDS

WHO-MAMI?

Since the reemergence of the craft cocktail in the last 15 years, nearly ever cocktail, save for the Bloody Mary, has been on the sweet side. Bartenders are already using sour flavors like balsamic vinegar to great effect. The next frontier, though, is umami (aka savory) flavors.  Look for ingredients like mushrooms, jus, anchovies or clams, onions, miso, Worcestershire sauce, and roasted tomato puree. These ingredients can be powdered, infused, grated, or sprinkled into liquors or drinks. Look for a rise of the Caesar cocktail, the Canadian sister to the Bloody Mary, using clam with tomato juice.

MEET THE BOCKTAILS

It makes sense that craft beer and craft cocktails should marry, so look for their child, the bocktail. Because of the huge variety of beer flavors on the market, bartenders will look to grab the beer-lover/cocktail-novice by using beer as a key ingredient. The natural choices are fizzes and highballs because they call for soda water, which can easily be substituted for beer. Look for riffs on the classics like a Kolsch 75 (a French 75 with kolsch instead of champagne) or originals that try to balance sweet and bitter (think a Negroni with beer).