Looking back at 2017, these are the 7 most memorable 2017 trends and moments
It’s no secret that 2017 was full of… well, utter chaos. There were unrivalled highs and lows throughout – even in the relatively consistent world of beer we had some shocking new revelations, and others that were a long time coming.
Here are our 7 most memorable moments of 2017:
1. The Haze Craze
We have been talking about this all year; and for good reason. While it’s not a new style by any stretch, the hazy IPA trend took the west coast by storm this year. San Diego has a running joke about having an obligatory IPA (2Kids Brewing even named their IPA that), but this completely different style of IPA came through the scene with comparable force.
The Haze Craze was the domination of a specific trend unlike any we’ve seen, at least for a long while. All year, beers were constantly being released from nearly every brewery you can think of, and some breweries, like Novo Brazil, Pure Project, Resident Brewing, and Abnormal Beer Co. really hit their stride as this style boomed.
Hops were finally seen for more than just a bitter, pucker face, and finally for big, juicy flavors they can also provide. Trying to understand and explain how these super smooth, juicy flavored beers were IPAs was an eye-opening education for even San Diego’s most well-established beer lovers, but a very welcome education at that.
2. What Are The Cool Kids Saying These Days?
As we know, beer styles, trends, and terminology are ever-evolving, and this year was no different.
It can be a bit challenging to stay up to date on the hip, new slang flying around the industry, so we’re here to help you out. Here are some of the more interesting terms we heard this year:
Dank: It seems like decades ago that dank was considered a bad thing; now, as you may well know, it is the highest compliment to a particularly bold-flavored (especially in aroma) beer.
Fire: Something being “hot” is so late 90’s, then it was “lit” (though Instagram says that might still be a thing) but what we learned this year, what that if something was really fantastic and on point, it’s no longer lit, but just fire, sometimes straight fire.
Mouthfeel: Not a new term, especially in the beer snob world, but people actually said it out loud this year… more than once. While the definition is actually a relatively helpful aspect of beer tasting, this particular word just… well it doesn’t have a very nice mouthfeel at all.
3. Embracing New Styles
Beyond fully welcoming a polar opposite style of IPA to the San Diego scene with open arms, this year also saw a surge in the popularity of Gose and Sour beers, especially in the spring and summer. With more and more people trying new beer, these lighter, fruity styles offered something different and refreshing to contrast the heavier IPAs and barrel-aged Stouts that craft beer was founded on. Council Brewing, which has been brewing sours from day one, went so far as to open an entire new sour operation, called the Magic Factory, and has made countless variations of their award-winning Beatitude and people are still coming back for more.
Craft cider also came onto the scene in a big way this year. With Twisted Horn Mead and Cider up in Vista, and hotspot Newtopia Cyder opening early in the year, followed by Serpentine Cider and Lost Cause Meadery more recently, cider has been reinvented and is making quite a name for itself. From beer lovers looking for something different, to wine lovers branching out, cider definitely brought a new dynamic to the craft community this year.
4. Eppig Brewing
Speaking of welcome additions to the community, Eppig Brewing opened at the tail end of 2016, but became a can’t-miss spot in 2017. It was named as part of the Westcoasters exclusive list of Best New Breweries of 2017 and is already planning to expand, adding a new location in Point Loma, hopefully sometime early in 2018. This brewery has is all; a great history, wonderful brewers who know how to make amazing beer, and a great team making it all happen. In such a busy area of North Park, Eppig shines brightly, and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for them!
5. Collaborations Galore
Collabs were everywhere this year, and as you may know, we are BIG fans of them. From cider and beer hybrid brews, to multiple breweries all joining together for a special cause, to food pairings and special dinner events, there was no shortage of new beers to try or events to go to.
Cutwater Spirits opened up this year, and already had a great San Diego Beer Week event where they partnered with Second Chance Beer Co. for an exclusive dinner party. While that was more of a one-time, special event, there were many other local businesses getting into the beer game as well. It was a big year for coffee and beer collaborations, two things we take very seriously around here, and with more local businesses, focusing on craft collaborations, like the newly opened Salt and Straw location already partnering with James Coffee Co. and Belching Beaver to make delicious ice cream flavors, we know there will be a lot more excellent collaborations to come.
The biggest collaboration of 2017 was about the San Diego craft beer community as a whole and what that community really means. Before we were responding and raising funds for hurricane relief and to support the Norcal fire efforts, which were also great examples of what a strong, supportive community we have, there was the issue of 10 Barrel at the beginning of summer. Monkey Paw, Half Door, and Resident Brewing famously came together to brew the 11 Barrel IPA, and create a subsequent pubcrawl, in response… or protest, depending on who you ask… to 10 Barrel opening a tasting room and kitchen in downtown’s East Village (read more about the real issue here.) That collaboration and the support that it garnered from so many local businesses and customers was the launch point of the “Indie Beer” movement, which is still in full swing. Taking it one step further, there was the “campaign” or media ploy, again, depending on who you ask, to “take craft back,” which, momentarily ignoring logistics of it all, still presented a united front against Big Beer; a united front that cares about keeping local jobs, using local ingredients, and supporting one another. That is a message worth promoting.
7. What is Craft Beer?
This year in particular, people started taking a harder look at what “craft beer” really means, and therefore, at the Brewers Association.
Part of that stemmed from the Big Beer takeover that continues to be a real threat, and part of it comes from people caring about who they (and their dollars) are actually supporting. This brought up questions about the BA’s arbitrary benchmarks and numbers of barrels that are included in the definition of what craft is, in addition to ownership… a conversation that is far from over.
There was also a lot of discussion surrounding beer fests and their awards, particularly at the Great American Beer Fest. Especially after this year’s west coast Haze Craze, the Brewers Association’s lack of a Hazy IPA category, which has been problematic in the past, has now reached new heights and was brought into question many times, an issue we are hoping gets resolved before next year.
Regardless of any changes that may or may not come, people are asking the important questions, and that is always noteworthy.
So Here’s Our 2017 Takeaway:
Community matters and the way we define it matters more.
We want to support breweries who support causes we care about, and that support other local businesses. The craft beer market is ridiculously saturated; only having good beer just isn’t enough anymore. To succeed, a brewery needs to be the whole package; exemplary customer service, a feeling of welcome, and a great overall experience and connection to the community.
So, as you quietly reflect on, or do you best to drink away the rest of 2017, let us bring San Diego’s best beers to you, directly from local breweries and local bottle shops; we are proud to continue to support, and to be a part of the San Diego beer community.
Here’s to a bright 2018. Cheers!