Rob Burns is one of the founders of Everett’s Night Shift Brewing. In September, he was elected as the new president of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild. 

Twenty-sixteen was another wild ride for brewers and beer lovers alike. Constant innovation, accusations and expansion projects did not leave fans thirsty for excitement. Will 2017 mirror last year or will we see some new shifts come into play? I don’t have a crystal ball but below are my 17 predictions on what the year in beer will look like.

Best read with a beer in hand. Cheers!

  1. Consumers will have an epic year – So many amazing beers from all styles and locations are at people’s fingertips.
  2. Lines will fade – With so much beer, there will be less of a market for people to spend time in line.
  3. Brewery closings – As the market gets increasingly more competitive we will sadly lose some fellow brewers. But we will probably add another 500+ brewers nonetheless.
  4. More distribution companies will launch –  As brewers continue to jockey for mindshare amongst distribution companies there will be a growing demand for independent distribution companies (ones who don’t sell macro beer). This will also increase pressure on existing wholesalers to change with the times.
  5. Growlers will die – The solution to bringing home fresh beer from the late 1800s will disappear as canning and bottling become better for beer quality and accessible to brewers.
  6. Paralysis will shift consumer choice – With so many options out there, consumers will seek out what is familiar and return to their old standby brands.
  7. Freshness  – Fresh beer will continue to play a key role in purchasing decisions and it will be harder to sell beer that travels long distances warm.

    Night Shift founder Rob Burns.
  8. Outside influences – Things outside the craft beer bubble will challenges the way of life for the industry. Things like public health concerns, DUI rules, trade regulatory issues and oversight.
  9. Even more attention – Beer industry success will continue to draw both good and bad attention in the form of media and regulators. This includes increase policing of illegal trade practices such as Pay-to-Play.
  10. Session beer  – Lower ABV will become even hotter. Tip of the hat to Notch Brewing for being way ahead of the curve there!
  11. Too many hops – Both hop growers and brewers will have too much hops on-hand to know what to do with. Consumers will return to other styles that are more easy-drinking.
  12. Fruited IPAs – These fruit additive beers will grow until the summer months and then start to see their way to the door just like hard soda.
  13. Back to basics – Beer lovers will move away from adjunct heavy and high ABV beers and return to simple, delightful lagers and easy-drinking pale ales.
  14. Juicy – The word juicy in the dictionary will mention NE IPAs as part of the definition.
  15. Small brewers band together – There will be more mergers, joint ventures, and buyouts among smaller brewers so that they can stay strong and competitive in the market.
  16. Taprooms will boom – Consumers will continue to flock to drink the freshest beer at the source and where staff knows the beer like the back of their hand.
  17. Trump – Total wild card! No prediction can be made here but the President-Elect can certainly have a positive or a negative effect on the industry. He is pro-business but also isn’t favorable toward alcohol or imports. Will the price of Australian hops go up even more? Will Corona be more expensive? Will he make it easier for business to grow and start?

Images provided.