It appears that 2014 will be another great year for beer consumers. With more than 2,500 breweries in operation and another 1,500 in planning, there has never been a better time to be a beer drinker. While brewers continue to push the innovation envelope, here are three things beer drinkers can expect to see in 2014.
Lower alcohol in session
Look for more brewers to balance out their portfolios with more sessionable beer offerings in the year ahead.
Although India Pale Ale (IPA) has dominated the craft beer market in recent years and consumers have adjusted to the higher alcohol volume that comes with this style, this year you can expect the alcohol pendulum to swing back toward lower alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beers, nicknamed "session beers" by many in the industry due to their less-than-5 percent ABV.
(More predictions: Get ready for some big media deals in 2014)
As Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's founder and president Sam Calagione recently wrote on the company's blog: "From the day we opened in 1995, the average beer we've brewed has been 9 percent ABV. We love going big, but we also hear the calls for a more sessionable off-centered ale." To that end, Dogfish will be moving its Namaste, a Belgian-style witbier with an ABV of 4.7 percent, from a seasonal release to a year-round offering. Similarly, New Belgium Brewing is releasing a new year-round offering: Snapshot, a 5 percent ABV unfiltered wheat beer. Michigan-based Founders Brewing scored a huge success in 2013 with the March release of its All Day IPA, which has a 4.7 percent ABV. Although it was introduced as a seasonal product, consumer demand pushed the brewery to make it a year-round offering. Founders expects All Day IPA to account for nearly 40 percent of all sales in 2014.