Crystal Beer Glass: Looking Ahead at 2022 in Beverages

Welcome back to reality! We hope you had exactly the holiday you wanted to have, and that that weird parallel universe of a week between Christmas and New Year’s, during which it feels like time is irrelevant, proved to be at least a relaxing break full of good drinks and satisfying TV binges.

Oh, yeah, and Happy New Year!

Before 2021 ended, we talked to a handful of our favorite brewers and brands about the whole year’s biggest and brightest moments in the world of beverages. The news announcements, the trends, the innovations--and TapRm even had a few of our own milestones, like growing to be available in 32 states. 2021 was an eventful year, and we expect 2022 to rise to the occasion and prove real competition. Since we’ve all probably given up on declaring that each new year was surely going to be smoother sailing (Lol, remember thinking 2019 was rough? The “hold my beer” joke seems too easy, but…), we’re not making any calls on 2022 beyond the drinks biz. We’re just hoping for the best and walking that road with ya, ready to at least make your drinkable dreams come true. And we know that predicting the future is more of a stretch than ever. But the experts can call upon this year’s trends, consumer interest, fine-tuned hunches, and their own hopes to make for a look ahead to all of 2022 as helpful as it is fun.

And so, these brewers and brands are gazing into their crystal balls beer glasses to tell us: what does 2022 have in store for us when it comes to all things beer, hard seltzer, hard tea, hard kombucha, hard cider, RTD cocktails, and beyond?

 

Tara Hankinson, Co-Founder of TALEA Beer Co.

“As more people feel comfortable gathering, I expect large format bottles and boxes (like 12- and 15-packs) to continue their popularity. For flavor profiles, I think more spices and culinary-inspired beers and cocktails will become popular.”

We should note that we chatted with our experts pre-Omicron surge, so gathering as a whole may be once again on hold for a bit. But thanks to the magic of vaccines, boosters, masks, ventilation, and therapeutics, it’s safe--and oh so exciting--to say that 2022 will see a lot more comfortable and joyful gathering in general. Which is why TALEA co-founder Tara’s prediction makes perfect sense. Friend groups and families will reach for larger format packaging to provide the whole crew with tasty beverages.

As for Tara’s flavor profile forecast, it builds on an increase in thoughtful, creative, unique-ingredient beers and cocktails we’ve already started to see this year. Brewers are looking to experiment more, revive older styles, and interpret culinary concepts into refreshing liquid forms. TALEA’s Mexican hot chocolate-inspired stout, Spicy Hot Chocolate, with cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, and chile, is a must-have example.

 

John Ross Cocozza, Founder & President of Ross Brewing 

“While innovation will always lead the way, both for the industry and for Ross in particular, we do foresee a return to mainstays, to flagships, to what breweries do best, in 2022. The tea leaves are saying the economy may not be the best in the short-term, so producers need to be careful about overcommitting resources to unproven concepts, while still delivering the innovation fans have come to expect. A fine line for sure. Other than that, expect to see more collaborations between breweries, as well as more low-ABV beers as the industry continues to try to woo the health- and fitness-conscious.”

A whole bouquet of brilliant observations and forecasts from Ross Brewing founder John! We definitely expect to see more flagships from breweries. These iconic beers are guaranteed crowd-pleasers even in unstable times, a consistent way to keep consumers happy--and we certainly won’t be complaining about being able to access these smash hits. Especially because in many cases, they’ll sit aside a concise portfolio of more experimental, temporary options. We also can’t wait to see ever more brewery collabs, and watch the ever growing rise of low- and no-booze beers that are even more versatile for every occasion.

 

Jon Moore, Co-Founder of Loyal Brands Gay Beer

“I think we will see more brands offering low-calorie or non-alcoholic versions. Also alternatives to alcohol like CBD or cannabis. And a movement to use only simple organic ingredients and flavorings.”

That’s two votes for an expansion in the alcohol-free market, with a nod to the low-calorie options, too. There’s been a steady growth in this area that shows no signs of slowing down, especially because interest and demand is growing even more. Gay Beer founder Jon’s own beer, in fact, clocks in at just 138 calories and 5% ABV, not to mention it’s gluten-reduced. In fact, the overall focus on wellness, sustainability, and innovation will no doubt lead to organic ingredients, as Jon said, CBD and cannabis alternatives, and more options along these lines.

 

Morgan McLachlan, Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer, & Master Distiller at AMASS

“Given the popularity of non-alcoholic [beverages], I’m excited to see more experimentation within the category in 2022. Gone are the days of just ‘non-alcoholic gins’ or ‘non-alcoholic whiskies.’ I think a new wave of creativity is coming, with more zero-proof options that defy genre.

“On a similar note, I expect cannabis-infused beverages to continue to rise in popularity, for the ‘California sober’ among us.” 

Three’s a trend, right? You heard it here first--okay, probably not first. But AMASS co-founder Morgan makes three of our drinks industry experts expecting to see growth and innovation in the alcohol-free space, which is good news for everyone--more special, occasion-in-and-of-itself beverages, without having to indulge in booze.

 

Robby Willey, Co-Founder of The Virginia Beer Company

“I think there will be a lot of second and third and fourth locations opening as breweries start to feel encouragement that the pandemic is moving past us and they look for ways to reach new consumers in a more direct fashion. Satellite locations and brewpubs seem like great ways to do so and we've already seen breweries in Virginia pushing forward with that model in 2021, so I wouldn't be surprised to see more growing in that manner across the country in 2022.”

Virginia Beer Company co-founder Robby is definitely onto something. Brands on TapRm from Oxbow to Finback have expanded their reach with multiple locations. It’s a great way for breweries to have bigger presences and it means more access to more great beer for everyone.

 

Dimitri Yogaratnam, CEO of Oslo Brewing Company

“The year of the pilsner? We are making more and more pilsners and lagers after consumer demand and hope the trend continues.”

Pilsners and lagers, in general, are for sure growing in popularity and demand, and we’re psyched to hear the CEO of Oslo Brewing, Dimitri, call this out--it means we can expect more and more stellar examples from this fantastic brewery. While we’re forever fans of big hoppy IPAs, fruity sours, and decadent pastry stouts, it’s so literally refreshing to have pure and simple interpretations of classic lagers to turn to. These styles take great skill and prove the talent of a brewer, they’re iconic, they’re easy to pair, they’re easy-drinking--if 2022 is the year of the pilsner, it stands to be a very good year. Check out examples on TapRm here.

 

Kevin Wong, Co-Founder of Lunar Hard Seltzer

“2022 is going to be the year where we really see people move on from ‘seltzer 1.0’ brands like White Claw and Truly and to ‘RTD 2.0’ brands that provide better flavors, ingredients, or mission.”

As the co-founder of Lunar Hard Seltzer, Kevin should know. As people grow accustomed to hard seltzer as an option, and as its own drink category, they can move past the big, mainstream gateway brands at every grocery store and start to explore craft brands that are bringing fresh takes to the table, along with natural ingredients, unique flavors, and thoughtful techniques. Lunar, for example, makes Asian ingredients shine in bubbly form, with seltzers like Yuzu and Plum. How--and why--would you ever go back to Big Seltzer?

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