The owner of Elizabeth Station, Patrick McEvoy, one of the region’s premiere bottle shops spent the last few weeks putting together their “Top 2017 Hopes and Predictions”. We wanted to compile them here for you. Tell us what you think!
#11: Founders Brewing Co.
This prediction is easy. 6pks just arrived right now (feel free to come on by). Centennial IPA, Dirty Bastard Scotch, Porter, Azacca IPA, All Day IPA and Ruvaeus Raspberry ale.
Our huge release party is scheduled for 1/17, with Breakfast Stout promised. I am not sure how Founders will be received in the PNW, it will be very interesting to follow. But I do know that we are insanely excited and will do everything we can to work with them to get you as much of it as possible. Very, very exciting start to 2017.
#10: The Year of Seattle Breweries
Let’s face it, Seattle is behind Portland, Denver, and probably some more cities for amazing beer.
But this is the year. This is the one that changes everything. Holy Mountain Brewing hit the scene last year, and then took their party to NYC where it blew the doors off. Cloudburst Brewing has been overwhelmingly sought after, but it looks promising that we’ll have their beer this year. Urban Family Brewing Company is the Seattle brewery you didn’t know was amazing, but has been selling amazing beers everywhere else in the country (and decided to re-focus on the PNW this year). Mollusk has been making life changing beers and are hitting their stride. And plenty more expect big things, such as Chainline Brewing Company, Seapine Brewing Company, Reuben’s Brews and more. Watch GABF carefully this year to see significant improvement for Seattle wins.
#9: Continual market consolidation of up-and-coming mid-sized breweries by capital investment firms.
I honestly don’t think we’ll see Miller Coors or AB buying up that many more breweries. I think it’s too bitter a pill for most brewery owners to swallow, even when they drive a dump truck full of money up to their house. And I think BA and MC want to see their current ones pan out a little before going on another buying spree.
Test: which of these breweries sold out, or sold part of/merger, in 2016 or 2015: Oskar Blues, Firestone Walker, 10 Barrel, Cigar City, Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Elysian, Hop Valley, Founders, Boulevard, Two Beers/Seattle Cider, or Victory Brewing? Answer: all of them. Does that matter for our region? The only ones still independent ones that fit the bill around here would be probably Fremont, and maybe HUB or Rogue. We shall see.
#8: Cigar City Brewing Tasting Room or Odell Brewing Co.
Since the company that purchased Oskar Blues also purchased Cigar City, suddenly it seems like a real possibility. I never would have thought it, but perhaps, maybe, it might be.
Odell is number one on my personal wish list in America. They are growing and they have to come to this side of the country sometime, right? Right???
#7: Less bourbon barrels, more wine, port, syrup, tequila, apple-brandy, sherry, and rum barrels. Also: smaller sizes and lower prices.
American breweries are finally dialed in on barrel aged beers. A good barrel is not cheap, and you can’t get that many batches out of each one. But breweries finally have a good hold on perfecting the barrel aged beers, and with that drop in risk comes a drop in price. Which is great for everyone.
We have a seen a real trend towards 375ml bottles. Which is fantastic. A 750ml is stylish, but then it just sits in your fridge waiting for the perfect moment. I LOVE me a good aged sour or barrel aged stout, but 750ml is too much to commit to.
#6: Westbrook Brewing Company and Jester King Brewery
We are looking forward to getting cases and a keg of Evil Twin & Westbrook Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break in the coming weeks.
These two are less far off than Bell’s, Cigar City or Odell. Westbrook already moves beer from their brewery to warehouses that already come to our store on a truck. It just happens to be under the name Evil Twin (and Jeppe happens to brew it). We’ve even actually had the Westbrook Table Beer here in 2015 or early 2016, I can’t remember. I was there in Charleston this past November and asked them what the story was. I would not be surprised to see some cans come our way once in a while in 2017.
Jester King is something that might happen too. I probably shouldn’t put online much more than that, but it’s definitely something we’re keeping our eyes on.
#5: Lagers will continue to be on the rise.
AND Bellingham will finally fully see what they have in Chuckanut Brewery, but it will be too late as the rest of the US drinks all their beer and there is none left for here. It will then be turned into a tragic musical called Kemper.
Ok that last part is not a real prediction. But the rest is.
#4: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. blows us away with a new line of beers.
This is a hope. They are discontinuing the Reserve Series of beers including Double Jack, Opal Saison, and the Black Rye Imperial IPA “Wookey Jack” and suddenly we can’t keep them in stock. It has been crazy.
This leaves some holes in their book of beers. Will they double-down on IPAs? The Luponic series has been a runaway success, at least in our store. We already know they have at least one of their special sours in 375ml bottles coming out, will there be more?
My personal guess is that it will be something that no one sees coming. Not to heap pressure on them. But I have high hopes and high expectations.
#3: Flagship beers start to die off, or be retooled.
One of the most fun ideas I saw in 2016 turned out to be one of the worst ideas. New Belgium decided to have some fun with their Fat Tire and got friendly breweries to brew variants on it. However, everyone I talked to about saw it basically as a sending off party for the Beer That Got Everyone Age 35-40 Hooked On Craft Beer.
But honestly almost every cornerstone beer from the late 90s is in trouble, from Alaska Amber to Boston Lager (which I’m not even sure I can buy if I wanted to) is seeing giant drops in sales. Even the ubiquitous Sierra Pale Ale has taken huge hits and we hear they are looking at ways of reviving it.
This isn’t a hope, or really even a prediction because it’s already happening. But it almost assuredly will get worse for flagship beers in 2017 (at the expense of better beers!).
#2: IPAs will need to up their game, or get left behind.
Remember the day your favorite 2000-to-2010 IPA suddenly wasn’t that great like you remembered it being? All bitter, some flavor yes, but not as great as it was when I had it six months ago. Has it really been that long since I tried it last? Has the recipe changed?
No, fellow beer drinker, the world has left your un-updated IPA behind. And those who haven’t adapted are in trouble. Deschutes Brewery updated with Pine Drops and Fresh Squeezed and are doing as well as ever. Sierra Nevada brought us a new way of using hops in their Hop Hunter IPA. Others (I won’t bother heaping dirt on graves) have not. And Melvin Brewing took Bellingham, and the Great American Beer Festival, by storm with 2X4, among others. Floral, citrusy, dank, and juicy (and even “NE”) are the new terms. And I don’t think we’re anywhere near done evolving.
#1: Local brews will be even bigger in 2017.
Here in the greatest NW, we love our beer. We definitely love our local beer. And we definitely love drinking our local beer, here.
So, it was amazing but not surprising that our best selling beers of 2016 were the following:
1) Aslan Brewing Company Batch 15 IPA
2) Aslan Dawn Patrol
3) Kulshan Brewing Company IPA
4) Melvin Brewing 2×4
5) Melvin IPA
6) Rainier 16oz
7) Silver City Brewery & Taproom Lager
8) Bale Breaker IPA
9) Franziskaner Hefe
10) Kulshan Sunnyland IPA
13) Melvin Hubert MPA
14) Kulshan Red Cap
AND Boundary Bay Brewery IPA was our top selling 22oz bottle.
Again, this isn’t going out on a limb here. But with Melvin coming in, Structures Brewing starting to hit their groove, Atwood Ales going to smaller bottles of their great lineup, a few more small ones opening, and the current All-Star brewery list in place, sure to make more new fantastic brews in this New Year, we are extremely excited to be living during this time in this city.