Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
I hope everyone had an enjoyable New Year’s Eve. My wife and I celebrated with a small group of friends and while a good number of Champagne bottles were consumed, I was encouraged to see the quality of brews brought over by friends who aren’t necessarily what you’d call beer geeks. It’s always fun to talk to those folks who are just discovering a love for beer and share in their journey just a little.
Being someone who doesn’t make resolutions, I can’t exactly write a column about what I’m resolved to do this year beer-wise. My wife suggested writing about the beers I’m looking forward to the most this year, but the unpredictable nature of both the schedule of special releases and the emergence of new breweries in the market makes that impossible.
Not to go ‘behind the curtain,’ but most weeks I’m tweaking orders and my section of Arrowine’s newsletter until literally the last minute as I’m finding out about new releases and re-organizing my Saturday tastings. Instead, here are some broader things I’m looking forward to in 2013:
Emerging stars: 2012 was a huge year for breweries new to the Virginia market. From the more everyday breakthroughs of Maui Brewing and Great Lakes to the esoteric wonder of BFM, and Italy’s LoverBeer, there seemed to be great new beers popping up every week. BFM in particular seemed to just explode as more of the Swiss brewery’s offerings hit shelves. I’m also looking forward to seeing what we get from Maine Brewing; the young brewery’s move into a new facility this spring should translate to more great beer for us here in Virginia.
Gypsy brewing comes of age: The great variety of beers from Mikkeller established a template for others to follow, and 2013 is poised to be the year “gypsy brewers” breakthrough to the mainstream in a big way. We’ll be experiencing a greater availability of Evil Twin brews in 2013, and the great Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales was recently featured in a New York Times piece on brewers using Brettanomyces yeast. The sheer spectrum of styles and recipes made by gypsy brewers nearly ensures that there will be a beer for everyone within their lines, and the ‘celebrity chef’ aspect of brewer fandom gives beer geeks everywhere a constant source of debate and conversation.
The rise of local beer: I couldn’t ignore the boom in the amount of local/regional beer sales and availability last year. Not only is Port City a go-to everyday brand for many of my customers, but Devils Backbone and Blue Mountain beers have become items I must have in stock every week. DC Brau is still doing great work and growing (even if it’s not always readily available), and Maryland’s Flying Dog and DuClaw breweries are making noise. Look for more local beers on retail shelves and on tap this year.
New breweries entering Virginia: Only a few days into 2013 there are already new breweries entering the market with promise. Asheville, North Carolina’s Highland Brewing had been available in the past, but they’ve recently switched distributor partners and are making a bigger push in our area. Slumbrew of Somerville, Massachusetts is just starting to show up in Virginia (I recommend their Porter Square Porter). Just a couple of days ago I found out that the beers of Ca l’Arenys Guineu, located in Barcelona. Catalunya has an emerging craft beer scene, and this week we’ll see the arrival of their Riner, a 2.8% ABV IPA-style that is generating a lot of buzz among beer geeks right now.
Of course, there are always the releases of brews like Bell’s HopSlam, Troeg’s Nugget Nectar, Founder’s KBS, Southern Tier Pumking, and the like. What are you looking forward to this year?
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