When the weather starts getting warmer and the days get longer, we know it’s almost time to hit our first beer festival of the season!
Tasting our way through a medley of IPA, lagers and seasonal brews, the sun on our face, maybe some live music in the background. It’s as close to summer vacation as we can get as adults.
Festival season is almost upon us, and we can’t wait to start sipping and sampling the tastiest new bevs from local breweries and producers around the country. Here are five trends to watch out for this summer.
Some of the most interesting beers on the market right now are inspired by classic cocktails. If you aren’t normally a beer drinker, this can be a fun way to sample the suds – they don’t have the typical beer flavors. And if you are a diehard aficionado, your taste buds will be wowed by these deliciously unusual brews like the Cuke + Tonic by Blake’s Hard Cider, a nod to the classic G&T.
Pipeworks Brewing has crafted an homage to the Big Lebowski with their take on a White Russian (cheekily named Hey, Careful Man, There’s A Beverage Here). It’s a “white stout” with notes of cacao, coffee, and vanilla.
Fruit-style beers have been popular for a while, but we’re seeing more breweries look to savory vegetables, chiles, and herbs for inspiration.
Old Town Brewing makes an earthy Mushroom Ale that is brewed with candy cap mushrooms. Dragonmead Brewery’s Ring of Fire is a chile beer with a spicy, herbal flavor. They actually transform the brew into a bloody mary, adding ingredients like worcheshire sauce and salt, to create the perfect beer for Sunday brunch.
Fonta Flora also makes a beet saison that is light and refreshing for summer.
We don’t normally think of beer as a dessert beverage, but some brewers have started working milk lactose into their IPAs, stouts, and other varietals to produce milkshake-worthy flavors.
Thick, milky and sweet suds have been quietly gaining popularity over the past few years and we expect to see them out in full force this festival season. Keep an eye out for sips like Grand Rounds Brewpub Alien Candy Peanut Butter Milk Stout. It’s like a liquid peanut butter cup.
If you prefer something a little zestier and lighter, try Urban Family Brewing Co.’s limesicle milkshake IPA.
Move over, IPA. This season is lager’s time to shine. In recent years, we’ve seen IPAs get hoppier and hoppier with each batch. Now, brewmasters are easing up on the pale ales and producing more slow-fermenting lagers. We’re excited about this easy, comfortable drink. It’s a nice way for novices to ease into craft beer, and lagers are particularly refreshing on a warm summer afternoon.
We’re seeing festivals around the country pay more attention to the eats that are served alongside their selection of brews. The food is no longer an afterthought, a greasy pile of fries or sandwiches you grab on your way to the next drink. They are thoughtfully paired to enhance the experience, not just keep you from getting too tipsy.
In recent years we’ve seen the pretzel necklace (designed for no-hands eating) rise in popularity. This season, expect to find a bevy of food trucks from local proprietors and gourmands or brewers who are getting in on the food pairings themselves. You might even find some festivals that place just as much emphasis on the food as they do the brews.
Want to find a beer festival near you? Discover one of our events!