12 Beer Predictions for 2012

by William Broas

2011 is behind us and what an eventful year it was for beer. What will we see in 2012? Who the hell knows, but I’m going to give my predictions nonetheless.

  1. The beer style of the year? We’ve seen IPAs, black IPAs, barrel aged beers, Russian imperial stouts, and sours have surges in popularity in recent years. I’m going to call 2012 the year of the big lager. Imperial pilsners, schwarzbiers and entirely new lager concoctions will be the hot thing as brewers try to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Asheville will finally be defeated as BeerCity USA. After a three-pete in 2011, another city will rise up and take the throne from Asheville. I’d like to say it’s Denver, but we do awful in this poll. I predict San Diego or Portland will take it.
  3. Homebrewing will continue to go mainstream. It enjoyed time in the limelight when the White House brewed a honey ale. Tech celeb Wil Wheaton got hooked on it. The Discovery channel aired Brewmasters to a national audience and The Brewing Network guys even got in on the TV action in a local way.
  4. Homebrewing will be legalized in Mississippi. The dedicated team at Raise Your Pints has been fighting hard for brewer’s rights and I think this is the year that the state will wise up. Sadly, I don’t think Alabama will legalize it this year, at least not when idiots like this are in charge.
  5. Washington D.C. will emerge as a great beer city. It’s been coming. SAVOR gets bigger and better every year, a lot of new breweries are opening, and some in the area are already bringing home medals.
  6. Corporate branded beer will become a popular marketing strategy. We saw more and more of this in 2011. Companies have found that putting their logos on their own beer is pretty cool.
  7. Another major craft brewery will be acquired by one of the big boys. The Goose Island event will become more and more familiar.
  8. Sierra Nevada will open up a brewery in North Carolina. There’s been a ton of speculation and I think the rumors will be confirmed in early 2012.
  9. Brewery membership programs will take off. The Bruery, Crooked Stave, and Flying Dog are a few that have them. Extreme beers geeks will find that membership has its privileges.
  10. Miller-Coors will ramp up their craft beer production and polarize craft beer geeks who will realize that it’s actually pretty good but they don’t want to admit it.
  11. Session beers WILL NOT be the big thing in 2012. People have been predicting it for years, and although they’ve grown in popularity, it hasn’t been a major shift. Big beers will continue to dominate. This is America after all.
  12. AB-Inbev and SABMiller will merge. Boom! Gotta put a bold one in there. Yes it’s out there, and it would have some antitrust issues, but I’m going for it. Hey, it’s not totally out of the blue.

What am I sure about?

I’m sure we are about to hit a major milestone. Take a look at the graphics below and tell me what it is.

Click for large version

Here’s to sharing a great 2012 with you all. Cheers!


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Patrick January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

I think you make some excellent points! I back your first prediction 100%. Pilsners have a bad rep and it’s their break out year. Perhaps it will have to do with more people wanting a gateway beer into the industry or the experienced drinkers getting back to basic balanced beers.

Ashville better lose it’s crown this year. Growing up in Colorado and spending a lot of time in San Diego, I am always baffled how far behind those cities are in the poll. I believe Phoenix will be the city to shake things up in the poll this year. Just a feeling… :-)

Anyway, another great write up. Pröst!


Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Phoenix eh? I’ll have to keep an eye on them. As long as someone knocks off Asheville I’ll be happy. People around here like to say that we’re to busy drinking beer to vote on that thing. True or not, I’m going to try and rally the troops this year.


Ken Goyette January 4, 2012 at 11:49 am

The InBev/Miller Coors one is a bit misleading. If it does happen it won’t happen in the US, at least with the merging of brands (I also think they hit huge issues with China). What most people think will happen is, it will happen, but Miller Coors (US) will be spun off to Molson or someone like that. Leaving things in the US very similar…


Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Yea my prediction is a bit simplified. Your comments are what I was alluding to with the antitrust thing. When you’re talking about companies that size it’s never as simple as “the two will join and become one”.


Neal January 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm

As a resident of Alabama, I really hope you’re wrong about AL being the last state to join the homebrewing party. Maybe providing the bill’s sponsor with more education and sound counterpoints to the misinformation thrown around last year will help.


Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I hope I’m wrong too. It would be incredible to enter 2013 with all of the states recognizing hombrewing as a legal activity. If you know someone who can provide me more information on the state of things and how I might help, tell them to contact me. I’d love to help if I can.


David Maida January 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Asheville now and forever. We win because we have more pride and heart then all the other beer meccas. If you like us now, just wait until Sierra and New Belgium build breweries here in the mtns of NC.


Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Booo! New Belgium will always be ours I tell you. Ours!


Rick January 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Like the list and I like the bold prediction as well, always have to have that far out one that if it comes true you can say BOOM, who called it :)

I can see the Pilsner style taking off, I love me a good Pilsner but they are few and far between.

I would also like to see more session style beers though, you can have flavor and low ABV.


Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’m really hoping Pilsner takes off, but actually even more than that I would love to have more schwarzbiers. Man I love those.


Lost January 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I like the list. Some bold stuff, some not so much. :)

I disagree with one point….2012 will be the year of session. Session brew is a perfect “gateway” beer for the 90% of America that drinks macro-brewed stuff. It’s only a matter of time before session goes mainstream. Once that happens, every brewer will want to put a session beer out to attract new customers.

And if 2011 was the year of black IPA, 2012 will be the year of sours I bet.



Billy Broas January 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Sounds like a friendly wager we have Josh! I don’t know man, people said 2011 would be the year of the session and big beers still dominated…We like them large and in charge! In all honesty though I hope I’m wrong about that one. I would love to see sessions come on in a major way.


Art D. January 5, 2012 at 6:11 am

I think that Washington could become BeerCity USA. Maybe not this year, but soon….

Lager does seem like it is poised for a big year. If brewers can age ales in barrels for months, they will probably realize that they can do the same with lager.


Robert January 5, 2012 at 7:12 am

#9 – I hope you are wrong about this. As a past “member” of a brewery, I bought a lot of beer untasted that I really did not enjoy. Secondly I think the whole memebership thing is not right for beer. It promotes special relaeases to sold on ebay and jacks up prices. I really think limited releases should be sold to the public on a first come..first serve basis, even if that means pre-selling tickets to buy. Just my 2 cents, but I really don’t like this trend.


Kyle January 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

I think Seattle needs to rise up this year and take over the northwest as the major beer city player.

Great overall article. I definately agree on the continued dominace of the big beers. I am part of the team that runs Seattle and Portland International Beerfests and the sessional and light beers never fair well. We get massive demand for the giant ABV.


Sonia January 7, 2012 at 7:12 am

I was looking at the different brands from Tenth and Blake, and I haven’t found anything from them that I like. What am I missing? Sure, your average Leinie is better than Miller High Life, but I wouldn’t choose it over anything from Bell’s.


Billy Broas January 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

I don’t think I’ve had anything under that brand but if you get a chance, try some beers from AC Golden or The Sandlot. Seriously good, especially AC Golden’s sours.


Sonia January 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Wow…maybe Leinenkugel is just available around the Great Lakes, then? It’s so pervasive here that I was sure it was nationally distributed. It’s on par with Blue Moon and its seasonals…i.e. better than a Bud, but nothing to go out of your way for.

And color me shocked: Grolsch is on their list of imports. Again, not Weihenstephaner…but better than Heineken.

I’ll look around for AC Golden (but not the sours. I’m not a fan.) and The Sandlot.


Mike @ BeerCraving.com February 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

I think you’re pretty spot on about many of these points. I also predict a rise in nanobrewers and a strong gain in popularity of sour beers.


Billy Broas February 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

Good point about the Nano’s Mike. I remember looking at this list on Hess a couple of years ago and there were only a few. Now it goes on forever: http://hessbrewing.blogspot.com/2009/11/nanobreweries-in-usa.html


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