Breweries in Pennsylvania have been among the leaders of the American craft beer pack for years, and it won’t be surprising if they far surpass the herd in 2016. There has been a consistent uptick in regional brewery expansions and local brewpub openings in the past year, and that is putting Pennsylvania on the map as a place where people produce—and drink—an enormous amount of good beer.
Check Out the 5 Trends for Craft Beer in 2016
1. Endless Varieties
Part of the boom in the craft beer industry has been sparked by the IPA craze, but the vast amount of breweries has led to a healthy differentiation of styles. Dissecting expansive draft lists in establishments like Victory or Tröegs is a pleasantly long task, one that reaps the benefits of flavors from crisp grass to bourbon-tinged coffee. The variety of styles found on modern-day draft lists will continue to grow as brewers expand their expertise and as drinkers broaden their palates.
2. Belgians, Sours and Saisons
Coinciding with the attention to variety is an astute carefulness for the execution of specific styles. Pennsylvania breweries notably pump out Belgian-style beers, but their brewers add bold twists to the ancient method to produce beers with big characters and subtle nuances. Sours and saisons are gaining a foothold with beer drinkers, and brewers are spinning styles on their heads with evolving brewing and aging techniques. The acquisition of barrel-aged stouts is also increasing, with beer lovers seeking out their extraordinary dark, woody notes. Finally, there has been a trend toward hazy hoppy beers, which use late hop additions to add juicy flavors and an opaque appearance.
3. Locally Sourced Ingredients
One of the best parts of the expanding craft beer industry is that many breweries have been investing in locally grown ingredients:
- Tröegs has been working closely with Sunny Brae Hops.
- Stickman Brews endearingly calls its farmhouse ale “Beer from a Farm.”
- Hop Farm Brewing Company grows hops on-site.
This local focus strengthens the communities around craft breweries in addition to making for one-of-a-kind brews.
4. The Cans Have It
In addition to focusing locally, craft breweries are trending toward canning their beers. Cans and crowlers are beating out glass bottles and growlers because they are easier to transport, protect beer from light and can stay fresh longer. While a canning line is a big investment, breweries like Sly Fox, Victory, Hitchhiker and most recently Tired Hands have proven that craft beer in aluminum is in demand among drinkers.
5. More Places Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Finally, time-tested names have been seeing massive expansion:
- Victory now has three huge brewpubs in the Chester County area.
- Tröegs is planning its “Splinter Cellar” project for wood-aged beers.
- Yards is looking for a bigger space situated in Center City Philadelphia.
With those expansions and so many more, 2016 is sure to see the opening of several beautiful new rooms for the purpose of sharing delightful malted beverages.
Pennsylvania breweries are continuing to prove they are among the most innovative in the business, with actions that highlight their strong business savvy, attention to market demand and aptitude for executing worthwhile recipes.
The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.
Photography by Alexandra Whitney Photography.