Keeping track of drinks trends is exhausting. Checking out bars and trying to get a handle on the new “it” drink can leave your palate confused and your mind exhausted. For every trend you excitedly wait for there can be 10 that you pray won’t hang around for too long. In a year that brought us freakshakes, orange wine and the continued debate over what makes craft beer “craft”, there are certainly a few trends that we’re expecting to die down a little. But what does 2017 have in store? Here are six things that will happen in 2017 and one thing that definitely won’t. Which one do you think? Let us know in the comments.
- Down to the valleys
Specialist On Trade supplier, Bibendum, identified Loire Valley whites as on the cusp of hitting the big time in the nation’s wine lists. But while you can already find Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre on plenty of wine lists, Bibendum are staking their claim to the lesser known regions. The likes of Anjou, Vouvray and Touraine could be about to hit the big time. It’s no wonder given the public’s insatiable thirst for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that regional specialists and similar varieties are tipped for the top.
- The Friendly Face of Automation
You’ve got to feel for bartenders. As soon as the press laud them for creativity and friendliness than a host of companies appear promising to cut them out of the equation. Apps to speed up payment and ordering will continue to become more widespread. The Barclays self-serve beer tap may even turn out to be more than a publicity stunt. Michael O’Hare recently went on record saying his new restaurants won’t have cocktail-making staff. And we saw with short-lived Soho restaurant, Rex & Mariano that the public aren’t necessarily ready for a completely electronic dining experience yet. But the keyword is “yet”.
- Beers for your five a day
When we talk about fruit beers, we don’t mean the Belgian sweet strawberry kind. 2017 doesn’t look that desperate. Rather it’s brewers being more adventurous with fruit flavours in their IPAs. Tim Toovey from Craft Beer merchants, Kicking Horse says, “IPA was all about a big bitter hit but now we are seeing a delightful shift to straight-up fruit juice.” Joshua Bernstein, an American beer writer, has even gone so far as to serve Sam Adams IPA with a dash of orange juice. Bernstein even thinks the trend will extend to sour beers.
- No more fruit ciders
Toby Magill, head of beer, wine and spirits at IRI, expects fruit ciders to take a hit in 2017 as big beer manufacturers move back towards beer from cider. The brands that have resonated with consumers are those with heritage. He goes on to say that retailers will follow suit, as “they can stock a few star performers and save space on the rest.” It might be time to stockpile those Kopparbergs.
- Government policy changes
The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group buries the hatchet with big Alcohol brands. Following years of international brands funding alcohol harm charities and advertising campaigns with tag lines imploring consumers not to consume their products, Millenials see alcohol as something to aspire to. Supermarkets stop using brands as loss leaders.
- Age is just a number
When the founder of The Whisky Exchange says something, you listen. And Sukhinder Singh has said, “I do not care about age… it’s about whether I like a whisky, then price, then how quality versus price compares.” And remarked that younger expressions of whiskies have become the top selling products on his website. As price and stock pressure inevitably continues on age statement whiskies, the benefits of non-age statements will continue to become apparent.
- The rise of micro-influencers
Influencers have probably been the most effective way for brands to insulate themselves against tighter and more opaque algorithm updates from social networks. However as networks rise and fall in popularity, a new breed of ultra-engaged influencers will emerge. Popularity is something that’s never been more fleeting, only by engaging a broad array of conversation starters will brands continue to see respectable ROI.
Despite all continued uncertainty that 2016 will leave us in, what’s sure to happen is the UK remaining one of the most exciting and vibrant places to have a drink. Thanks to talented brewers, bartenders and sommeliers there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.