With 2017 only one weekend away, it is time for me to jot down nine possible trends that might occur here in Los Angeles in regards to our burgeoning craft beer scene.
1. Popular beer styles (your IPA’s, barrel-aged and sours) stayed in full command in 2016 and I expect that to be the same next year. In-between the lines, additions and subtractions can be made and I think one way to make a splash is by adding lactose, cold-brew coffee and other artisanal goods.
2. Rare can releases were successful both in cachet and cash this year so expect emulation as those who may have pooh-poohed the idea test the waters.
3. Bubble talk will gather steam with each brewery acquisition and with any sign of distress or layoffs. This could reach the point where the talk in the air might lead to self-actualization and actually cause some people to believe the talk is real and make changes.
4. Distribution will need to be ramped up in Los Angeles. There are too many breweries now for the amount of trucks and selling that can be done in a single day. More breweries may take their own destiny into their handtrucks.
5. The next iteration of IPA is probably sitting in a fermenter as we speak. Fruit IPAs and NE IPAs were the headline grabbers this year, but rest assured, another sub-style of hop bomb will emerge that every brewery will make a version of in 2017.
6. Gin or tequila? Which of these barrels will become the go-to for beer-aging? For years, it has been a bourbon barrel world, but I feel that one of these two spirits could have a breakout year.
7. You will be taking Metro to drink more beer. Mt. Lowe Brewing just opened in Arcadia off the Gold Line, Santa Monica Brew Works opened this year near the Expo Line on the Westside. You can get off the Blue Line in Long Beach and choose between six beer spots within two blocks. More breweries will follow suit.
9. Coolships have gone camping in 2016 and are being used more and more, I expect an urban version somewhere in the L.A. beer realm in 2017.
The Beer of the Week is El Primero IPA from Indie Brewing Company. The IPA wave has yet to crest and crash, so we might as well enjoy the plentitude of hops out there and a great place to start is with the “first.” Indie has four-pack canned Late Notice IPA and now El Primero IPA. Use your Christmas gift cards to ring in the new year L.A. style.
Your Homework is to start your own barrel program. Barrel-aging is huge. Not IPA huge, but pretty big. For the craft beer fan that wanted to dabble with wood, there was not much you could do except for buying a big ol’ barrel or find chips or spirals. Both of which are better suited to the home brew crowd. Now, though, there is the Oak Bottle. Put the beer inside what looks like one of those fancy water bottles and within a day or two, you have a newly oak accented beer.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.