Slideshow: Ask a Cicerone: What's the Next Big Thing in Beer?

Fine Dining Brewpubs
Fine Dining Brewpubs

"We've had the gastropub trend happen which has been great for showing beers place at the table, but I think we're going to see a trend soon of more fine dining brewpubs. We're not far from the first Michelin quality brewpub where the beers are food are designed to complement each other. We are already seeing the first steps in that with collaborations between breweries and restaurants. Chefs and brewers are the culture's 'new rock stars' and soon there's gonna be one that wears both hats." — Matt Eggers (Dog & Duck Pub)

Sessionable and Historical Beers
Sessionable and Historical Beers

"Lighter and historical styles are going to be better received. We’ve just all gotten so boozed on Imperial barrel-aged stouts and massively hopped Double IPAs. Now I really love a good Berliner Weisse, and I’ve seen several breweries lately make the style happen quite well (I think of Golden Road’s Berliner made with lemons). Very sessionable single IPAs are getting popular and I think a lot of the hyper-beer styles will begin to fade. The beer community must not let water, yeast, barley, and hops turn into such extreme amalgamations." — Jay Rose (Urge American Gastropub)

Extra Pale Ale (XPAs)
Extra Pale Ale (XPAs)

"Maybe it's just the warm weather talking, but I've been happy to see a huge uptick in so-called XPAs—Extra Pale Ales. They combine the lighter body and alcohol of a sessionable pale ale with hop aromas surpassing that of many IPAs. Some of my favorite examples have been showcasing fruity hop varieties, opting for flavors like mango and lychee rather than the typical pine and citrus. Two Brothers (Warrenville, IL) Sidekick is an excellent example, hopped with Australian Galaxy hops." — Robert Johnson (Standard Market)

Perfecting Our Craft
Perfecting Our Craft
"The next new big thing in beer is going to be Americans perfecting their take on traditional international styles. For years, many American Belgian-style beers have not been true to style whether they were overly sweet, too high or low in alcohol, or just plain wrong. I don't feel that the next big thing is going to be an emergence of a new style or a new focus on any one ingredient—I truly believe that the next big thing is perfecting our craft. We have established that we are innovative, and can be successful with all of our crazy experiments and hybrids. Now all we have to do is make what we do perfect." — Sarah Huska (Eureka! Burger)
Low Alcohol Lagers and Cider
Low Alcohol Lagers and Cider
"We have been hearing the term “session” for a while now. I do think session beers are on the rise, but I categorize them two ways. One is 'sessionable' from an alcohol standpoint so that you can drink more than two beers and still stand up.  The other is 'sessionable' on the palate, meaning that the intensity of flavor doesn’t fry out your tongue so you can taste more than one or two beers.  Put these two ideas together and you have low alcohol lagers. We are starting to see more Schwartz, Helles, Kölsch, Bock, Dunkels, and so on. These styles are packed with flavor without being intrusive; they are well-balanced between hops and malt; they are low in alcohol, and ultimately easy to drink. I’d also recommend consumers watch for cider to continue growing as well." — Drew Larson (Hopleaf)
Innovation and Resurrection
Innovation and Resurrection
"The next new big thing in beer will come from the continued drive among American craft brewers to innovate and create. This includes the resurrection of long-forgotten beer styles that go back in Old World brewing history, the continued pushing of the envelope with variations on existing popular beer styles, more experimentation in wood barrel aging—including production of sour beers and the use of spirits and wine barrels, more experimentation with wine and wine ingredients to create beer/wine hybrids, beer and cider hybrids, and much, much more.  It is truly exciting to realize that American craft beer has become the artisanal beer-making standard of the world." — Rob Hill (Total Wine & More & Total Guide to Beer)
Back to Our Roots
Back to Our Roots
"I'm thinking that we will see more historical examples recreated and put out to the market. While pushing the boundaries with regards to what can be done with beer, I think many of us overlook the reverence that the industry has for its deep, long history, and the respect it holds for the brewing traditions from all over the world. Give me 5 different October beers and Lichtenheimers next year, and I'll be in a very good place." — James Tai (Pinch)
Extreme Beers
Extreme Beers

"I think we’ll continue to see more out of the extreme beer category. We’re going to see beers higher in alcohol, beers made with incredibly rare ingredients (like coffee beans that have 'passed through' Southeast Asian cats), beers with over 120 IBUs. Especially here in the U.S., brewers are going to keep pushing the envelope to discover what beer can be." — Joe Brinkman (Samuel Adams)