The Tastes of Tomorrow: 5 future predictions for craft beer

As a team that embraces beer-based exploration, we love to share with our customers the delight of discovery, whether it’s a new brewery, the latest edition of a series, or a fresh take on a style. In the innovative and ever-changing landscape of craft beer, you’re never too far from some kind of game-changer, whether that’s just for your individual tastes, or the industry as a whole.

After a year of remote working, we’ve grown a bit restless. So, rather than wait for the flavours of the future we got in touch with a few of our favourite breweries and asked them what they envisage right now. Hazy Pale Ales and IPAs have dominated the fridges of many a craft connoisseur for some time, but will something replace that? Or, in fact, will this modern-day classic simply continue to evolve? What about in the world of darker beers and Sours? What will be the Tastes of Tomorrow?

Having pondered their predictions, six sensational breweries shared with us their visions of the next stage of craft and then set about making them a reality. United under the umbrella of The Tastes of Tomorrow, the result is a case of exclusive collaboration brews to inspire imaginations and tantalise the taste buds of curious drinkers.

Here’s what we’ve learned from the beers brewed in this series:

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The juice will remain loose: New England IPA is here to stay

Many a brewery’s reputation has been forged on their ability to consistently create beer of hugely hoppy proportions. As the soft, silky East Coast-style began to crop up over in the UK, its popularity surged, and it’s easy to see why. With alluring tropical aromas, and a smooth creamy texture, it’s a hugely drinkable style that delivers an intense and enjoyable flavour, especially when dialled up to the levels of a Double IPA.

Polly’s and Verdant are two of the UK’s most popular proponents of this style, and their Tastes of Tomorrow collabs show it’s likely to stick around for a while yet. However, both predict evolutions, with Polly’s focusing in on hop varietals and the qualities that they bring out in the beer. They’ve leant heavily on Sabro, a hop that’s become fashionable with brewers and drinkers alike recently, due to its distinctive, coconut-like tropical profile. With more new hops such as Strata and Talus, expect to see plenty of intriguing hops appearing in your DIPAs.

While no stranger to the latest varietals, Verdant’s Sounds Like Science is all about the amazing new products developed to give brewers even more from their ingredients. These additions, including Incognito and another top-secret product, provide a bolder hop flavour than traditional pellets and whole hops, and blend seamlessly into the brew. With these continuing developments in hop-breeding and commercial production, it seems as if New England IPA will always evolve and capitalise on these advancements.

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Malt-forward beers will provide a route for younger brewers

It’s no surprise to see Whiplash bringing an Imperial Stout to this series, as we can’t see the popularity of this massively malty, decadently delicious style waning soon. More surprising, perhaps, is Wylam’s offering to The Tastes of Tomorrow.

The team at Wylam are well-placed to ruminate on the future of craft, having seen it all over 20 years of brewing. With roots in traditional cask brewing, as well as a glowing reputation for modern styles, their versatility has made them one of the most beloved of British breweries.

They believe that an emphasis on malt-forward beer is well poised to make a big splash. IPA and Pale Ale have long enjoyed their renaissance, but there are few breweries looking into the overlooked, yet nonetheless delicious, malt-focused styles and making them the cornerstone of their brewery. In a crowded market, this could be a viable way for young, up and coming breweries to make a name for themselves.

Leading by example, Wylam show just what can be done with Painting the Toon Broon, taking the neglected Brown Ale, a style close to their hearts, and giving it a modern twist. While utilising a traditional malt and grain bill, they’ve intensified the ABV level and thrown in a hefty helping of maple syrup for an Imperial Brown Ale suited to modern palates.

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A focus on local ingredients will become key to more breweries’ identities

While hops sourced from across the globe means that craft beer will always have somewhat of an international character, breweries have been finding ways to use their locality to distinguish themselves and represent their cultural heritage.

With the area around their native Wrocław known for its abundant berry harvests, Browar Stu Mostów love to include locally sourced ingredients in their beers. As brewers find plenty of ways to squeeze every last bit of juice into their beers, the prevalence of fruited sours has continued to grow. It’s highly probable that they’re going to have ample opportunity to keep berry blasters like our collaboration Pastry Sour coming, then.

Down in Italy, CRAK have been keen to bring a sense of their regional culture to their beers. An independent, agricultural brewery, CRAK’s beers contain ingredients sourced from their very own farm, alongside those sourced from their province of Padua. Using grapes from local vineyards, the brewers have created a DDH Grape IPA, that stands out from the crowd by embracing its heritage. These focuses on local knowledge enables breweries to showcase their identity and are sure to be a big feature of craft in years to come.

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New equipment and facilities will continue to enable evolutions in brewing techniques

While beer is often simple, the pursuit of perfection leads breweries to always search for the next thing to make their brews even more satisfying. Having moved brew sites at the start of the year, Verdant’s advanced equipment has enabled them to create boundary-pushing DIPA, allowing them to attain a new level of juiciness.

Whiplash have also placed great emphasis on where they make their beers. They’ve transformed themselves from a nomadic brewery, working on other’s brew kits, to the proud residents of a state-of-the-art facility. Designed and commissioned by founders Alex and Alan, it’s packed with gear destined to help them repeatedly break new ground.

For our Tastes of Tomorrow collaboration, Let.It.End., they’ve put this equipment to the test, employing mash separation to concentrate worts to densities previously unseen. This has allowed the malts in their Imperial Stout to really shine and provide copious character to a beer that is viscous, sweet and unreasonably drinkable for its high ABV. Expect them to try and one up this with even flashier equipment in the future!

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Breweries will continue to look back in order to move forward

The craft brewing culture we all know and love was borne out of an appreciation of the past and a willingness to revisit it for inspiration and reinvention. It’s why IPA and Pale Ale are now among many people’s favourite beers, having been rescued from relative obscurity by early craft brewers.

This idea of utilising the knowledge and skills of predecessors is prevalent in the Tastes of Tomorrow series. From Stu Mostów’s desire to capture international attention and reestablish their city of Wrocław as a brewing powerhouse, to Wylam’s revival of a declining style synonymous with their hometown, it’s clear that the past has a big part to play in craft beer’s future.

This reverence of tradition is most apparent in our collaboration with CRAK. It’s a beer inspired by the riches of their surroundings and the heritage of their region. The presence of a grape that was the fuel of not only their local economy, but their ancestor’s working and social lives, pays homage to their origins while also revealing their progressive and innovative character. This is something that many craft brewers relate to, and have their own unique experiences of, and we expect craft to continue to tell these stories of tradition and heritage.

Are you ready for the Tastes of Tomorrow?

While no forecast is ever 100% certain, we can see the logic in these visions. Even if all these predictions do materialise, they won’t be the only changes to come. In our seven years, we’ve seen craft accelerate from the fringes to cultivating a huge following, and we have no doubt that we’re bound to see it continue to grow and blossom further in the next seven.

If you’re ready to get a glimpse of the flavours of the future, check out the Taste of Tomorrow case now. Containing all of the collaborations featured above, plus a limited-edition tasting glass, it’s a unique opportunity to enjoy six of Europe’s top breweries pushing the boat out and creating some incredible beer.