Looking at the past few years, I think it is safe to be excited for 2010. The past several years have all gotten consecutively more interesting when it comes to the world of craft beer, and there is no reason to expect anything different in 2010.
Following are a few guesses at what we might see over the rest of 2010.
The second year of Seattle Beer Week is going to blow the first year away. I have nothing to back up this statement. But, if I remember correctly, the “Seattle Beer Collective” put together last year’s celebration in just a few months. This time, they will have had a full year to prepare, as well as some history to learn from and improve upon. I’ll have my liver prepared for madness.
Cascade Brewing (Portland) is going to continue to kick-ass. Towards the end of 2009, they announced that they would be opening up a dedicated barrel-house in SE Portland complete with a tap room and several sours ready for your thirst at once. In addition, they announced expanded distribution to several key markets throughout the US. 2009 was an amazing year for Cascade, but 2010 might have even more in store for them (and us!).
The Seattle market will continue to see more out-of-state US craft breweries enter our market.We’ve seen an insane amount of great breweries start distributing here over the past couple of years, including Port/Lost Abbey, Russian River, Firestone Walker, Boulevard, Cascade, The Bruery, and Southern Tier. Not to mention Green Flash was added just last week. Who else will it be in 2010? While I have zero idea if these are a possibility or not, I’ll throw a few guesses out: Alesmith (CA), Ballast Point (CA), Drakes (CA), Odell (CO), and Brooklyn (NY) would be nice additions. While this is great for consumers, it means more added competition for local breweries. They will have to continue to grow and adapt in order to remain competitive as more good beer comes pouring in from the rest of the US.
Technology will continue to change the way we drink beer.One of the overwhelming trends from 2009 was breweries and bars adopting services such as Twitter and Facebook as ways to keep consumers up-to-date. Like it or not, these services are giving businesses that use them a competitive advantage. We’ll continue to see more businesses jump on the wagon, but we’ll likely see more technologies emerge as well. One of the most promising ideas is a service like Taplister, which is used to see what is on tap around town. Taplister isn’t perfect, but it’s a great idea and a step in the right direction.
More new breweries will continue to open in Washington. The Washington Beer Blog has a comprehensive list of what opened in 2009, as well as what they know is in the works for 2010. Foggy Noggin in Bothell and Airways Brewing in Kent look to be next to open their doors, and Icicle Brewing Company is planning to open in Leavenworth. I’m sure we’ll see more come down the pipe as well. Once again, this is great for consumers but makes for a more crowded market for existing local breweries.
Following are some things I’m looking forward to, as well as some personal goals for the year.
The 2010 Craft Brewers Conference is taking place in Chicago, which is too good of an opportunity to pass up for me. I can visit the parents and friends, and then head to the conference for my first time. The World Beer Cup will also be held during this year’s CBC. In addition to the CBC and World Beer Cup, there will also be a plethora of beer events going on at Chicago beer bars and breweries that week. I missed out on all of the fun during the 2006 CBC when it was held in Seattle, so I’m really looking forward to this.
I love good food and I love good beer. Combining the two often leads to some very memorable experiences. I’d like to explore combinations at home, as well as head to more beer dinners this year. I’ll make sure to share any great combinations and recipes I find as I go.
I need to remember to throw some import beers into the mix every once in a while. We have so much good local and domestic craft beer around that it can be easy to ignore the more expensive import beers. But, with such a great selection available at local bottle shops and bars, I need to explore the landscape a little more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still all for supporting the local breweries; I guess I’ll just have to drink more?
I’d love to take a study course for the BJCP certification exam.Taking a study course is a great way to learn more about evaluating and judging beers; be it homebrews or professional beers. Whenever I’m on a judging panel with certified BJCP judges, it makes me realize how much I still have to learn. It’s just a question of when the next one will be available, and if I’ll be able to swing the schedule.
Another goal for 2010 is to try and hit more happy hours. I really don’t go out a ton during the week, but happy hour is a perfect time to grab an inexpensive beer and say hello at local bars and brewpubs. Plus, it’s a reason to leave work early.
I need to visit some places that I have somehow continued to miss up to this point.There are several places around the Puget Sound area that I have never taken the time to check out that I’m way past due on. The most glaring omission has to be Georgetown Brewing. I love their beer, but I’ve never been down for a tour or even to fill a growler. I know; shame on me.