Trend Watching: Is Beer Looking to ‘Sweeten’ Its Deal with Drinkers?

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Us humans are a fickle species.

For as much as we are individual snowflakes, there is still even more that binds us together, ingrained predispositions that go back to our earliest ancestors. Fight or flight, companionship and even the kind of food we like to eat.

While our tastebuds can take us in all sorts of directions – cilantro or soap? – there is still one unifying taste to which we return time and time again: sweetness. It’s a choice determined by our culture and biology, all the way into our chromosomes.


Via Nielsen, preferred tastes by gender for flavored alcoholic beverages. Click to enlarge.

So is it a surprise that it constantly finds a way to sneak into the drinks we love? Juices and sodas easily satiate a need for sweet, but even our booze continues to turn that corner, offering more options that either incorporate sweetness or tackle the taste straight on. After all, honey is the 2015 flavor of the year for a reason.

Whenever people talk about trends in beer, it’s always the same few things: sours, session IPA, lagers, cans.

That sour trend? We’ve wondered about it since 2011. Session IPA? Gaining steam since 2012. Lagers? Maybe consider source of flavor. Cans? It’s a vessel, not a trend.

Old feels new again all the time. Trying to talk about hot trends in beer ignores the fact it’s like jumping in a time machine and throwing a dart at a year to visit. “Trends” are cyclical or simply never ending. History can teach us that.

The next “big thing” in beer? It’s already here. It always has been.

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Brew EDU: What is ‘Natural Flavoring’ in Beer and Why Use It?

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I spend thinking a lot about beer, which often leads me to questions about processes like brewing, selling or packaging the product. As I try to learn more, I figured it would be fun to share. So … “Brew EDU.” Are you curious about something? Contact me on Twitter. Let’s get nerdy…

Chances are, you’ve seen it on bottles in your favorite beer shop: “brewed with natural flavoring.”

But what does it mean?

A variety of things, really … But this is not one of those “can you believe what’s in your beer!?1?” kind of posts.

I became interested in the idea of natural flavoring thanks to the growing popularity of “crafty” beers that are thriving using these various products, whatever they may be. Blue Moon, American’s most popular beer, uses natural flavoring. So does Leinenkugel’s line of shandies, which was one of the fastest growing segment of beers in 2013.

But Big Beer isn’t the only group using natural flavoring, as you can find it in beers from Sam Adams, Shipyard, Rogue and many other craft breweries across the country.

So why natural flavoring? Because it’s easy.
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When Less is More: The Summer of Shandy


As American consumers, it’s our Constitutional right to change our mind. Or something like that.

Rather, perhaps it’s just that we can be fickle when it comes to choosing what we want, when we want it. Our adherence to one brand is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Given the rise of craft beer, it should come as no surprise this behavior is especially prevalent with beer lover’s palates. Which is why I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw this headline recently: “New Developments in radlers, shandies and pre-mixed beer drinks.” American drinkers are turning toward low-ABV, citrusy drinks? Wasn’t it just six months ago we were exalting the American craving for high-ABV options?

Things are certainly changing … but it’s not just a new movement:

… the number of new shandy or radler product launches more than tripled between 2008 and 2012. Furthermore, through the first four and a half months of 2013, the global new product launch numbers for shandy or radler beverages were nearly equal to the full-year launch count for 2011.

Typically associated with the blokes across the pond in England and other UK countries, these lemonade-beer mixtures are apparently taking US consumers by storm … but why?
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Time to Sit Back and Unwind: Summertime with Sam Adams

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It isn’t summer until you’ve had a summer ale. While suggests plenty of options, it’s Sam Adams’ seasonal brew that officially kicks off beach season for me every year.

I typically don’t buy 12-packs of beer any more – my wandering eye at my local bottle shop prevents that – but I do like to indulge in each of Sam Adams’ seasonal variety packs to see what the brewers at Boston Beer Company cook up every few months. Along with my annual bottles of Summer Ale, I was excited to try some of the special releases provided in this year’s summer 12-pack.

So as today marks the unofficial start of summer across the U.S., I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight the special brews of this year’s summer pack.
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