I recently came upon an article by Ken Weaver summarizing a statistical analysis he performed on the Ratebeer database. While I’m no statistician it appears Mr. Weaver is, as he diligently sifts through the data to reveal the fastest growing beer styles over the past five years. The Ratebeer database consists of 73 unique beer styles and 168,000 commercial beers collected from 2000 to 2012.
Mr. Weaver’s analysis aggregated the roughly 69,586 commercial beers in the database from 2000 to 2007 by style and percentage by style of the overall beer market. These figures served as the baseline for his analysis of the data from 2008-2012. While I don’t frequently buy commercial beers as I have more homebrew than my kidneys can handle, the results did not come as a surprise to me and I’m sure they won’t to you.
American Pale Ale +2.4%
Sour/Wild Ale +2.1%
Imperianl/Double IPA +1.9%
Black IPA +1.8%
Imperial Stout +1.8%
Pale Lager -4.9%
German Hefeweizen -1.4%
Premium Bitter/ESB -1.4%
As with most things over time innovation takes hold leading to radical transformations from the original starting point. The same thing appears to be occurring with the shift from traditional European style beers towards the more hop centric American styles. To put it bluntly today’s beer landscape has moved a long, long way from the Reinheitsgebot of yesteryear.
The innovation and creativity put on display by today’s brewers has been a pleasure to watch and especially taste. Brewers of today are pushing the boundaries of our palates by masterfully blending unique ingredients and microbes to produce beers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. As a beer lover this makes me excited for what the future holds, but also cautious that we don’t lose sight of the importance of the classic beer styles and the role they have played in getting us to this point.