5 Beer Styles To Usurp The NEIPA

We’ve all gone hazy crazy over the last year or so. Brewers everywhere are trying their hop-flecked hands at creating the perfect Vermont-style beers, and we’ve seen some fantastic brews come out of this New England Revolution. But like all good things, this trend will eventually come to an end and be usurped by another. So the question on my mind is which beer style will be the heir apparent to the NEIPA reign?

Looking at the NEIPA trend, I’ve judged potential contenders by three main factors. Wide-ranging appeal/familiarity for the style, but with a slight twist (being simplistic – a NEIPA is just an IPA with such a twist). Is the style of beer compatible with both the craft beer drinking population and mainstream drinkers (in the same way an IPA is usually a gateway beer) and the style having a slight novelty about it (such as a beer that looks like a pint of orange juice). So here’s my top 5 picks for the next big thing in craft beer.

5. – Hoppy Blonde Ale

The traditional blonde ale is up there with pale ale or IPA as a gateway beer style for someone making the leap from macro lagers to the world of brewer imagination that we call craft beer. It maintains that slight spice that a lager does without flooding the palate with the overtly fruity flavours we’ve come to expect from our hoppy numbers. BUT when someone does add a few more IPA-typical hops to a blonde, you’re in for a mighty sessionable summer beer that’s in the Goldilocks range for bitterness. Could it be the next big thing? Unlikely, as it’s slightly niche and I’d imagine quite hard to nail perfectly (hence the lack of them on the market) but I’d give it an outsiders shot.

Familiar style with a slight twist – Definitely. It’s a beer we see everywhere and adding a bucket load of hops gives it that slight edge.
Appeal to both craft and mainstream – Potentially. As mentioned, it’s a good gateway but may take a bit of coaxing to get someone to have a shot at it.
Novelty – Not so much.

Beers of this style you can get your hands on in the UK right now.
Jarl – Fyne Ales
New Word Odyssey- Fallen
The Dry Hoppy Blonde – Anspach and Hobday

4. – Milk Stout

Imperial Stout may be the OTP of the seasoned beer drinker, but let’s be honest. It’s not the most practical beer to drink. Its high-ABV makes it a sharing beer, and not exactly perfect for hot weather where beer drinking increases. Also if given to a beer newbie, an Impy Stout would most likely turn them off trying another (you wouldn’t thrust a rare, top of the range whisky straight into a glass of someone you were trying to get into whisky or have someone watch a twelve round slugfest if you were trying to get them into boxing). And that’s where the Milk Stout comes in.

Slightly sweeter than the traditional stout, generally lower-ABV and much more quaffable on a sticky July day, this one has potential to be the new beer of choice for brewers to have a go at when the haze craze comes to an end.

Familiar style with a slight twist – Oh yes. It’s a stout. But it’s full of sweetness.
Appeal to both craft and mainstream – Yep. Craft beer fans love of the stout family is no secret and even mainstream beer drinkers could be swayed by something that’s “a bit like a Guinness, but just that bit sweeter.” And not forgetting an older generation who perhaps even started their drinking careers on Sweetheart Stout having a pre-existing yet unbeknownst to them nostalgia for the style.
Novelty – Potentially. The likes of Wild Beer Co. have shown you can definitely add a really cool spin to the style, but as a stand alone, on paper milk stout, there’s nothing hugely to shout about visually.

Beers of this style you can get your hands on in the UK right now.
Milk Shake Stout – Wiper and True
Millionaire – Wild Beer Co.
Milk Stout – Left Handed Giant Brewing Co.

3. – Hefeweizen

I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with this next one. Primarily because a friend of mine brewed some once and, on opening it, coated half of the kitchen and its inhabitants in a wheaty barrage. However, the hefeweizen, like the blonde, is another style that even devout lager fans seem to be able to get their head around and enjoy. And they’re usually brought on to wheat beers by the likes of Blue Moon which was much more widely available say seven or eight years ago than American-style IPAs. While it has traditionally been the style of the Bavarians, it seems to have always had a significant place in the fridges of other nations, and perhaps brings back fonder memories than mine for people who have enjoyed the style on continental holidays. Hence why I see it as a possible contender.

Familiar style with a slight twist – Not massively. Familiar, yes. But it generally is just a classic and straightforward version of the style. Unless you’re talking UltraVilot by Pilot which added a mountain of Parma Violets in.
Appeal to both craft and mainstream – Ja!
Novelty – In its own special way. Visually, very nice, spot on for most seasons, Oktoberfest and as mentioned, nostalgia from being on the continent.

Beers of this style you can get your hands on in the UK right now.
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier – Weihenstephaner
Hefe Weisse Tap 7 – Schneider Weisse
Ayinger Urweisse – Ayinger

2. – Saison (of some variety)

Once a beer at the edge of extinction, the Saison (as the name may suggest) is the seasonal superstar of many a brewery. A perfect dinner party beer due to its flavour profile highly matching a whole host of dishes, its versatility is its key strength. There’s a million different things you can do with this style to keep it interesting and some strand of Saison (I dare to even hazard a guess at what variant) could definitely take the beer world by storm in the same way the NEIPA has.

Familiar style with a slight twist – Again, such a wide-ranging style can have so many tweaks to it. But can be very hit and miss.
Appeal to both craft and mainstream – In the craft world. You betcha. A beer beloved by brewers and fans a like. And with a flavour profile that can match a wine, there’s even a huge potential with mainstream drinkers who don’t think they particularly enjoy beer.
Novelty – Versatility. The saison plays by no one’s rules but its own and the sky’s the limit when it comes to tweaking it. Although this can lead to a ‘Hogwarts Staircase’ effect in the eyes of the consumer, the potential for creativity is what makes the style a challenger.

Beers of this style you can get your hands on in the UK right now.
Saison D’Avon – Lost and Grounded
Cuvee – Burning Sky Brewery
01 Series – Brew By Numbers

1. – Kölsch/Cologne-Style

Like some Shaq or Peyton Manning, some number one picks seem to just be destined for success. It’s been threatening a coup for a while. And for my money, the next big thing in beer will be the renegade lager that is the Kölsch. Or as it’ll have to be referred to since it’s a protected term for a beer style brewed in Cologne – The Cologne/Kölsch-Style beer. Generally brewed with ale yeast as opposed to traditional lager yeast, the Kölsch gives a mainstream lager drinker a comfortingly recognisable yet deliciously divergent experience, and gives the more widely-versed beer fan a clean, delicious beer. Everyone’s a winner with a Kölsch.

Familiar style with a slight twist – 100%.
Appeal to both craft and mainstream – Oh most definitely. Blending the lines between macro and craft by being assuringly familiar yet excitingly differently (kind of like when you build a fort in your living room to watch TV), the Kölsch is undoubtedly THE style for this factor.
Novelty – Where this falls down. It’s just a good, clean cut beer. But no style has ticked all three boxes perfectly. And on the strength of the other two factors, it’s my top pick for the next big thing.

Beers of this style you can get your hands on in the UK right now.
Larger – 40ft Brewery
Früh Kölsch – Früh
Nico – Orbit Beers

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