What are the biggest improvements in craft beer over the last 10 years?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by herrburgess, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,092) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    Inspired by a recent thread about the positives of "craft" beer these days...I thought I'd throw a twist in ("craft" beer loves a twist, right?).

    Q: What are the biggest improvements in "craft" beer over, say, the past 10 years?

    I listed my two in the aforementioned thread: improved freshness and a small degree of local brand loyalty.

    Let's hear y'all's....
    John1985, Hoppsbabo, Roguer and 10 others like this.
  2. Mark-Leggett

    Mark-Leggett Champion (893) Jul 30, 2014 Missouri

    The greatest thing that's happened is all the new breweries!!! More and better beer
  3. zeff80

    zeff80 Poo-Bah (9,934) Feb 6, 2006 Missouri

    Cans. So much easier to take them places or bring them home from travels.

    Also, the crowler. Some states have laws about growlers must be from the brewery you're getting the refill from. Crowlers mean I don't have to buy a growler from the place I'm visiting and I can still take home beer.
  4. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Initiate (194) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    The variety explosion has to be the right answer to this is it not? Or maybe it's the continuous steady growth of communities like this. Either way craft beer is fucking awesome!!!
    Kemosabe, lucius10, flaskman and 5 others like this.
  5. Mark-Leggett

    Mark-Leggett Champion (893) Jul 30, 2014 Missouri

    Also this!!! Love cans now
    Saylor, JediMasterLenin and bmugan like this.
  6. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Initiate (194) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    "Every law is an infraction of liberty." - Jeremy Bentham
  7. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,092) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    you seen a steady improvement in quality where you live/drink as the variety has (undoubtably) exploded? is it new places raising the bar and established ones following and upping their game?
  8. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,159) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

  9. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,092) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    NOW we are getting somewhere....
  10. TriggerFingers

    TriggerFingers Disciple (343) Apr 29, 2012 California

    I'll give you props for a timely (and apt) Jeremy Bentham quote. Nicely done sir!

    To answer the OP...it's the wide variety of craft cans up and down the brewery spectrum. Even some of the smallest breweries can get in the game with a mobile canning line. After that, local breweries that emphasize locality and freshness is the next.
    KentT, Saylor and IPAExpert69 like this.
  11. WadeBridgman

    WadeBridgman Aspirant (224) Oct 18, 2013 Illinois

    So much creativity these days which does wonders for the variety in styles, also the explosion of barrel aging has made me a very happy man the past few years
  12. DoctorZombies

    DoctorZombies Poo-Bah (2,979) Feb 1, 2015 Florida
    Society Trader

    Many of us enjoy/drink local. Florida seems to be bursting with new breweries, and some around me are highly thought of and making world class beers. Hard to not like tasty fresh local beer.

    But it is expanding distribution that I like - more beer from other regions are coming into my State. Some are old favorites I used to trade for, others simply new to me to try.

    And driving across the country I see many non regional breweries on the shelves, so I don’t believe this expanding footprint is unique to Florida. So much good beer to enjoy!
  13. dafla67

    dafla67 Champion (816) Dec 31, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I'll go with cans. Much more practical than bottles.
  14. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,229) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    The wide variety available now and best of all stocked at my local.
  15. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,174) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    I'm going to be the dickhead who says NEIPA's.
  16. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (584) Mar 28, 2009 California

    To avoid repetition I will say information. So many resources to find out about beer and breweries. I never go to a restaurant without checking to see if they have an updated tap list on Untappd, digital pour, website etc. plus, breweries all post about their releases and what’s new with the brewery. Some of the social media has created hype and people stalking breweries and bottle shops for special releases but I think there is more positive than negative.

    Also, from a homebrewing angle there is so much information available to help brew good beer its awesome!
    TrojanRB, Roguer, AlcahueteJ and 8 others like this.
  17. islay

    islay Aspirant (266) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    The biggest improvement to me is the explosion in the number of craft breweries. I think that has coincided with a drop in average quality, but I'll take that tradeoff. Most breweries churn out far more different beers than they did a decade ago. Similarly, far more liquor stores and bars now than ten years ago have decent to good quantities of craft beer available. As a fan of slow sours, I'll happily note that American examples are in much greater abundance today than there were a decade ago.

    I think it's really important to point out that, although I think there are net improvements compared to a decade ago, I can't say the same compared to one to three years ago. Certain cloying styles or substyles are crowding smarter, more advanced fare (be it innovative or traditional) off the shelves and tap lines, as the influx of a broader set of craft beer drinkers has led to a less sophisticated customer base driving the conversation and trends in a way that should be disconcerting to anyone who loved craft beer ten years ago. Practical selection and style variety at any given location is plummeting in many markets if you're not interested in the trendy stuff. Real innovation and experimentation has slowed down quite a bit, as R&D efforts have shifted to making beer every sweeter and toward tasting more like something else (mostly juice or desserts). The scene is moving rapidly in an artistically bad direction, and I fear that either that stupification will continue or that the market for craft beer will crash, as many of the NEIPA/pastry stout/fruited kettle sour fans never have developed palates for flavors traditionally associated with beer and also won't stick with the craft beer scene if it loses its newfound mainstream cool factor.
  18. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (394) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The over all level of quality is an order of magnitude better now than 10 years ago. And twice that again from 25 years ago. We sought out decent beer in the early 90's. We tolerated decent beer in the 2000's. Today we expect world class beer is available in every bar, restaurant, C-Store and grocer with little exception. This is a Golden Age of Beer we are living in. All the ups and downs are just minor compared to a short time ago.

    For me, coming from the dark ages of Beer Advocacy, if you had told me there would be 13 varieties of good, fresh, local beer in a can at my Sunoco station within my lifetime ... well come on man. No effing way!

    Oh yeah. Cans.

  19. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,092) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    being in the industry myself, i have definitely seen an increase in the use of things like those avenetti extract syrups and beer slushies, etc. to create "variety." I can also understand it; many of the answers here name variety as the best thing to happen in "craft," so obviously a lot of folks still prize it.
    Roguer, PapaGoose03 and islay like this.
  20. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,142) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    1. cans
    2. brewery tap rooms. I like the healthy competition they give to bars

    Can you elaborate? Do you mean because of more buy-from-the-source options? If we’re talking store shopping, I feel that fresh beer options at stores near me are decreasing because of the overload of options and #2 above. Store shopping feels more challenging to me than in years past.
  21. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,619) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, that's about it- freshness and availability, which is also how I answered in the other thread.

    Most of what I buy and drink lately does seem to stand out in opposition to what we think of as "craft", however. But at least we know how to define it now :wink::sunglasses:.
    Premo88, Bitterbill, drtth and 2 others like this.
  22. Sound_Explorer

    Sound_Explorer Poo-Bah (1,671) Dec 29, 2013 Washington

    I would say overall quality and consistency. People aren't just opening a brewery with their homebrew (there are exceptions) but they are taking it very seriously. That attitude has led to breweries coming out the gates firing some good stuff and keeping it good batch after batch after batch.

    The other item I would look to would be the most popular here, cans/canning and it's acceptance by consumers and producers. The variety of options: 12oz, 16oz, 19.2oz, and the crowlers of varying sizes; have all given consumers and producers more customization for how they drink and sell their beers.
    Premo88 and sharpski like this.
  23. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Devotee (491) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Availability. Whether distribution, new breweries or availability in restaurants/bars/etc., finding craft beer isn't a problem.

    To a lesser extent, I agree with crowlers and cans as improvements. I just don't take advantage of them.

    The one downside has been style options. While you can find all styles, there doesn't seem to be as much of certain styles (barleywines, Scotish Ales, Old Ale) as in the past. You can thank the explosion of IPAs for that...
    Beervana and Junior like this.
  24. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (267) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    This. Ten years ago there were so many beers that I had read about or heard about, but had never seen on a shelf; if it wasn't a major distribution it just wasn't stocked. Quality, flavor, originality doesn't matter if your only option is to special order (untasted) by the case.
    chrismattlin and DoctorZombies like this.
  25. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,092) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    yep...meant buying at source. stores here full of old product, too.
    AlcahueteJ, Junior and jbertsch like this.
  26. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (895) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    The biggest improvement in NJ in the last 10 years is allowing breweries to open tap rooms. Led to a large increase in the number of breweries.
  27. Izzy_Izumi

    Izzy_Izumi Initiate (116) Aug 3, 2017 California

    Not quite ten years ago, but I like mine and my friend's recent return to just enjoying the local scene more than trying to get rare stuff. That's helped by all the breweries in the area (for the most part) having something interesting and well made, no matter the flavor.

    That being said, my footprint for local is pretty large. Greater Los Angeles and Orange County are my playgrounds, and there's lots of swings and roundabouts for many great beer.
  28. philbe311

    philbe311 Poo-Bah (1,980) Jan 21, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Beer labels and beer names... With more breweries and wider distribution comes the need for stand out from your peers... As a result, beer labels and beer names never cease to amaze me...
    AllOfTheCats and DoctorZombies like this.
  29. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (861) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I would say...
    1) Adoption of cans
    2) Craft beer being standard on draft lists pretty much everywhere. I no longer feel any need to pre-screen bar/restaurants for good beer before I go.
    3) Variety...
    That's certainly a thing, but I think there's more to the variety idea. There are more traditional styles available in the US now if you look for them...like your own brewery, Von Trapp, Notch, or Spencer Trappist brewery (and others I'm sure I'm missing). There are also lots of sours available now, that used to be limited to just a handful of mostly imported Belgian breweries. And lots of "non-specialized" craft brewers where you can find less common classic styles occasionally, if you read past the ubiquitous IPAs.
    meefmoff, AlcahueteJ and herrburgess like this.
  30. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,577) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Incredible increase in quality and variety of locally made beer.

    Great increase in the number of brewers who put packaged on dates (which has led to the problem of too much old beer on shelf, now we know lol)
  31. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (105) Mar 15, 2014 California

    For me, the wider variety of hops that are being grown cloned and crossed over to make new flavors in beer, also breweries are more willing to revisit styles that haven't been in vogue or widely brewed for along time and bringing them to newer drinkers who may favor them.
  32. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (939) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Those danged Utilitarians! I get the absolute sentiment but don't completely agree.
    Milktoast75 and IPAExpert69 like this.
  33. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,432) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    The increase in the varieties of hops is huge in my mind. The introduction of many of these new hops goes back farther that the ten years stated in the OP's post, but many of the new ones fit into the last decade too.
    dcotom, bubseymour and Beer_Stan like this.
  34. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (319) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    Can buy awesome barrel aged beers without driving around like a madman on Tuesday/ Friday afternoons, collecting 1/pp at maximum markup. A store near me has Sucaba/ Parabola/ BA Expedition/ KBS/ BA Ten Fidy just sitting on the shelf at low prices, no one even touches them.
  35. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Disciple (379) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Local breweries canning their beer to go in 4/6 packs. Shit, I live in rural PA and the closest brewery to me (about 20 minutes away) is canning their beer in 4 packs.
    flaskman likes this.
  36. sportscrazed2

    sportscrazed2 Disciple (372) Mar 29, 2010 Indiana

    Not everything is an IPA
  37. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (484) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    Mobile canning
    dcotom and PapaGoose03 like this.
  38. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,627) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Distribution. Oh and, more recently, more brewers are putting out easy drinking simple Lagers. The "return" of Golden/Blondes is also a plus. Man can not live by high abvs only...
    KarlHungus, KentT, AlcahueteJ and 4 others like this.
  39. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,296) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    This is a tough question.

    At first I was going to say the change in attitude about lagers... but this change has essentially resulted in me spending a lot of money on a lot of new options, and still ultimately preferring Konig or Hofbrau Original anyway.

    Then I was thinking the near abandonment of bombers (even though 16oz cans have stepped in to take their place)... but then I was thinking of how the fall of the bomber was partially responsible for one of my favorite brewers calling it quits (Pretty Things).

    The NEIPA was possibly the most significant thing to happen to craft beer from within in the last ten years. Unlike a lot of other noise, this is something that represents a real impact in this little corner of the brewing world... but even if I loved those beers, I wouldn't call an impact an improvement.

    Lastly, I was thinking of the predicted shift to lower ABV beers... but many of these are monstrosities or less appealing than BMC, and cask ale seems to be in steady decline.

    I guess I'm going with the decline of bombers for the win.
  40. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (122) Feb 25, 2013 California

    development of new hop varietals with distinct, identifiable sensory properties. They are approaching what winegrape varietals contribute.