With a diverse and ever-growing swath of drinkers holding their empty glasses aloft, beer professionals are under pressure to cater to individuals’ perfect pours. These drinkers’ demands are broad, but some in-depth insights are setting the foundation for producers to create brews that hospitality professionals want to sell.
Touting first-rate outlets around the globe, the Kimpton family of hotels and restaurants has bars that need to cater to all kinds of guests. One of their bar managers, Melissa Carroll, has paid close attention and has identified a major, rapidly accelerating trend: low ABV and low calorie demand is “absolutely” here to stay. “Session-able beers with full-bodied taste, without the guilt, AND you can drink a few of them without going overboard? Yes please.” Guests want to enjoy themselves when they’re out, but not at the full-calorie, total-inebriation level. This goes for industry professionals as well. With the rise of awareness of mental and physical health of the hospitality workforce, there is a growing need for ways to participate in the fun and excitement of the industry without losing sight of self-care. Low ABV and/or low calorie beer options keep the trade sharp, and consumers in admiration of the industry will want to mirror that trend as well.
Local appeal is very real. Working in Chicago, “most of our guests want to try something from the Midwest,” and Melissa opines that “this is the same of each region of the United States.” Quite right, according to Laura Newman, champion of Diageo’s World Class 2018 and owner of Queen’s Park in Birmingham, Alabama where “hyper local” brews hold the spotlight. If smaller producers are vocal about where they are and what they’re making, natives and visitors alike will want to partake in their offerings, either fortifying hometown pride or getting a total taste immersion as a tourist.
While always ready to try something new, beer drinkers still want the ability to session with their favorites. Melissa explains that many of her Kimpton guests request IPAs and Lagers, and this desire for the classics is also echoed in Asheville, North Carolina, “the Napa of beer,” where bar owner Donnie Pratt says that guests guzzle “whatever IPA or Pilsner is on draft.” In order to choose which brand, classic or not, packaging design has a big impact. Canada’s Vancouver Island Brewing, for example, mixes well-known styles into their offerings, but makes them pop with brightly-colored, contemporarily-designed labels. Melissa’s beer packaging vision is that “fun plays on pop culture are going to drive the aesthetic market in the future.”
Moving forwards in 2020, beer drinkers want to choose from a range of options, with conscious consumption, local flare, and delicious classics with ultramodern design at the top of the list; extra credit to whoever brews Melissa a “Tajin, lime, and watermelon salted Lager.” Any takers?