Now that it’s officially 2014 and everyone has had time to read all the “Top 5 of 2013” articles published on here (well Top 30 or so in John King’s case… he’s too much of a wimp to pick just 5), I thought I’d take a different spin on this whole list thing and let the beer-loving masses know what I hope to see in the Louisville beer scene in 2014.
Wanna know the good part about my list? These aren’t mere far-fetched pipe dreams (though I’m still holding out hope for a beer that can make facial hair even more awesome). These are things that could actually happen. Gold star for keeping it a bit realistic!
1) Viva la Can!- One of my favorite trends in the craft beer world over the past year or two is the growing use of the cylindrical aluminum vessel as a beer transportation mechanism. That’s a really long way of saying I like cans (yes, a bit of laughter is more than welcome if that makes you think of boobs…. I’m full of 5th grade humor too). Cans are easier to transport, take up less room, and are quicker to cool. They are simply a more convenient way for the consumer to get beer from one place to another. And while I can’t use my fancy butterfly bottle opener (found here… you owe me a beer when you show up in KY a month or four from now Lagunitas) on a can, you simply can’t beat the sound a carbonated beverage makes when that top is popped. I know a canning line may not be economical for many breweries, but I hope at least some continue the trend. A sixer or two of a canned craft beer can really make a trip to the lake more enjoyable, and that leads me into #2…
2) Session Brews- I don’t know when it happened, but sometime after trying every imperial/double/triple version of a beer I could find, my taste buds discovered that they really enjoyed a good session beer. Luckily the craft beer world as a whole can read my mind and several breweries such as Founders, Schlafly, and our very own Against the Grain started brewing year-round lower-alcohol versions of popular styles like the American IPA. Not that I don’t love big beers (I do), but it’s nice to have flavorful options that don’t pack 7+% abv punch. Whether it is a session IPA or a lower alcohol porter or even a good Czech Pilsner (a style I wish more breweries would try and tackle), lower alcohol beers can really extend a drinking session w/out causing you to black out and pee on your wall.
3) Collaboration Beer/Themed Beers for Louisville Craft Beer Week- I’m always a bit skeptical when it comes to collaboration brews. Even though they sound great in theory, many turn out to be quite underwhelming. Regardless of that opinion, I think some sort of collaboration brew commemorating Craft Beer Week would be a pretty snazzy idea. Hell, even play it off something Louisville is known for, whether it be bourbon, mint juleps, or even cartoon birds with teeth (go Big Blue!). And if a collaboration isn’t in the books, a themed beer each brewery could make for the week would also be a lot of fun, especially if some sort of event/events are planned around the release of said themed beers. Have all breweries use a basic recipe and add their own touch to it. This isn’t meant to be a competition, but a celebration of the local beer community. I believe an event like this, whether a themed brew or collaboration, would add an even greater sense of camaraderie to the local scene and give folks even more to look forward to during one of the best weeks of the year in Louisville.
4) Keep on Keepin’ On, Kentucky- The beer scene in KY (centered around Louisville, IMO) has grown a lot in recent years. With new breweries popping up, older breweries continuing to grow, and more craft beer taps/bottles/cans showing up everywhere you look, the folks of the Commonwealth have a lot to be proud of when it comes to their beer. I want this to continue. I hope more breweries open and thrive. I want to see more local brew tap-lines at the bars/eateries we frequent. I want beer drinkers across the country to look at Louisville as a legitimate beercation (yes, I combined “beer” and “vacation” into one word… I’m lazy) destination. We all know this is possible. Let’s just hope the reputation continues to grow.
5) More Beer!- I love drinking local. I want all our local breweries and beer spots to grow and thrive. But I also love trying new things, and the more breweries that distribute to KY the more beer I (and you… I’m not 100% selfish) get to try. Green Flash, Sweetwater, and Oskar Blues are amongst the breweries that began distribution to the Louisville area in the past year or so. Victory, Deschutes, Lagunitas, Kona, and Flat 12 are all scheduled to begin distributing in the near future. Hopefully this trend will continue. More breweries = more beer options. Not only will we get to try more national brands, but the national brands will also get to experience all our local beer community has to offer. That’s a win for everyone.
There are many other things I’d love to see happen in 2014 (rain turning into a Citra IPA probably won’t be one of them), but I believe the above 5 are real possibilities. In the meantime keep getting out and supporting all the hoppy/malty goodness you can handle. I’ll be sure and do the same. And if you have anything specific you’re looking forward to this year, leave it in the comments. You never know if someone important may accidentally read this.