Peace out, 2015! What a year for craft beer, especially here in Bellingham. From new styles to new breweries to new sell outs, the craft world keeps getting bigger and bigger. Just take a look at the production statistics posted by the Brewer’s Association.635741341188140524-BREWERSASSOCMidYear-1-HR

Here are the top trends in craft beer for 2015:

Big Brewery Buyouts

Yes, big name breweries have been buying out craft breweries before 2015, but this year it seemed like an announcement of a buyout was happening at least once a month. A pattern has emerged in craft beer where selling to a larger company is not becoming a matter of “if”, but “when.” It’s a time where even a brewery that founded Loser Pale Ale with the slogan “corporate beer still sucks” can sell out to big beer company Anheuser-Busch (I know Elysian sold out in 2014, but I’m still not over it so sue me). Buyouts are emerging as a necessary step towards expansion and distribution.

By far one of the biggest buyouts this year was Ballast Point selling for a whopping $1 billion to Constellation Brands. A billion. Freaking. Dollars. That purchase alone is most likely going to have a major impact on craft brewery buyouts in 2016. Big name beer companies aren’t fooling around here.

Not every brewery is settling so easily. In what was one of my favorite tweets of 2015, Evil Twin Brewing put it quite eloquently:


Barrel Aging

WanderEmissaryAgain, this has been around well before 2015, but this was the year where Bellingham went full fledged Donkey Kong and really started throwing all these barrels at us. Wander Brewing started throwing batches in barrels from the beginning, however now that they’ve been in operation for over a year, their Barrel Project releases are becoming more abundant and regular.

On top of that, Boundary Bay recently came out with their kick ass bootlegger series, Aslan is starting their own barrel aging project, and North Fork is having all sorts of fun aging and souring out in the woods.

This was a great year for barrel aging; Wander even took gold with their Wild Warehouse at the GABF for best barrel aged beer. I personally can’t wait to taste what’s in everyone’s barrels in 2016.



Back at the Great American Beer Festival, sour beers surprised many with their overwhelming popularity. This style of beer has been steadily growing for years, but 2015 is when the category really solidified its dominance in the craft beer world. Sours were one of the top craft beer trends at GABF according to Fortune, and we’ve been lucky enough to live in a sour hub here in Bellingham this year.


Electric Berryland from North Fork Brewing

Aslan released their Disco Lemonade again, coming back stronger than ever. Wander began their sour millie series, with each release surpassing its predecessor. Then we have North Fork, the crazy eclectic beer wonderland out in the middle of nowhere. If you wanted to get into sours this year, head brewer Eric Jorgensen had just the gateway beer to get you going. For me, it was a soured chocolate porter with raspberries; all flavors I would have never thought to blend together.

Sours are that kind of weird kid in high school who no one talked to because they were different, then they grow up and people realize how awesome their weirdness actually is.

Please let there be even more bacteria-infected funky beers in 2016.


Canned Beer

Yes We CAN banner_web2015 was the year of the canning comeback. There are so many benefits to canning beer: 100% recyclable, no UV light reaches the beer, and so much more. Craft beer in cans is becoming much more frequent than it used to be.

In addition to Aslan and Kulshan canning their beer for distribution, Elizabeth Station seemed to be a big push for canning this year. Instead of getting a growler fill, Elizabeth Station introduced Bellingham to a Crowler: a single use, eco-friendly alternative to getting a 32 ounce fill. Shortly after releasing their kick ass Crowler machine, Elizabeth Station hosted the “Yes We Can” festival, an event entirely centered around canned craft beer.

2015 was the year all your previous canned beer stereotypes were shattered. Respect the can.


Emerging Breweries

The guys from Structures and Subdued.

The guys from Structures and Subdued.

It’s pretty obvious that Bellingham is on a steady incline towards gaining more and more craft breweries. This year alone, we had the opening of Structures Brewing as well as the announcement of Stones Throw, Gruff, Subdued, and the Bellingham Beer Lab.

I don’t anticipate Bellingham slowing down in the slightest. This time next year, I fully expect to announce even more brewery names in the end of year wrap up.

But hey, there are worse things to happen to a town, right?


Cheers to 2015, and we’ll see you all next year!