Things we’re most excited about in beer in 2017
16 January 2017, By Jonny Garrett
It’s been sad a thousand times before, but there has never been a more exciting time to be a beer lover. One look at our new-in section will tell you that. In the UK we have over 1,700 breweries – more per capita than anywhere in the world – some of which now rank among the best in the world. I’ll leave it to you all to fight about which those are, but here are the five things we at Beer Merchants are most excited about in 2017 – outside of the amazing new breweries we're rounding up soon.
It’s an obvious one, but we can’t wait to crack that first Cloudwater tall-boy can. If it’s an IPA it’s going to last about 30 seconds before we have to crack another. It may be the trendy thing to do, but it’s also hugely brave. It makes sense for the hoppy numbers, but how will the weissbiers, saisons, sours and porters fair in this format? Only time will tell, but we believe it’s going to be a huge, and delicious, success.
Get the popcorn or at least a diacetyl-ridden pint, sit back and relax because we’re going to have plenty more Twitter explosions in the beer world. Last year we fell out with each other over everything from sexist beer clips, Brewdog’s marketing antics, whether beer should be hazy, the EU and glassware. This year we started with a cracker about the future of cask ale. Speaking of which…
That one pint of cask that reminds us what it’s supposed to taste like
We don’t mean to be down on cask, we really don’t, but it is a bit of a gamble. When you want cask, it’s like stepping up to the roulette wheel. On one level, that’s seriously annoying. On another, it makes that one or two pints of pristine condition real ale all the bittersweet-er – and there is no better beer than a moreish, living, vibrant cask ale. We can’t wait to have it, and hope it won’t be the only one.
If anything, we're even more excited about Tiny Rebel's move into can than Cloudwater's. Why? Cluwb Tropicana that's why. It smells like jelly babies, tastes like alcoholic jelly babies and it's just about low enough in ABV to make it sessionable. Thus, this shall be the summer of Clwb Tropicana. The drinks won't quite be free, but they will be absolutely bloody delicious, protected in their metal suits and chilled til the perspiration drips into your hungry...ahem. It's going to be awesome.
Beavertown have, once again, reached capacity and instead of packing up their bags and moving on (bringing a new meaning to the term gipsy brewer) they are staying put for a while this time. Instead they concentrating on some other exciting things. The first is their tempus project, which adds the ingredient of time to their beers. A good fifth of their brewery is now taken over by wooden barrels and foudres, in which exciting brett, wild and sour beers mature away, waiting to be unleashed. Everything we have had from this part of the brewery has been incredible and we’re looking forward to more. The second thing is their incredible looking festival in September, at which you’ll be able to drink the kind of white whales you could over ever have dreamt of before – Trillium, Jester King, Other Half, Cellarmaker, Loverbeer and more.
Burning Sky coolship
This isn’t really one we’re looking to in 2017, more looking forward to during 2017. And we’ll have to look forward to them during 2018 and 2019 too, because the fruits of Mark Tranter’s at Burning Sky’s new coolship won’t be drinkable until at least 2020. A coolship is a giant swimming pool in which traditional lambic brewers cool their wort and expose it to the wild bacteria and yeast in the air. Not a lot gets in and it’s pretty slow at turning all that worty sugar in to beer, so they have to go into barrel for up to three years before being blended and bottled. So in 2020 we’ll write a piece about how excited we are to be trying the first legit British lambic, but until then we’re just looking forward to looking forward to it. Bloody Belgian beer, eh?