Brewess

The Blog for Women Who Brew Beer

2010 Homebrewing Trends

Posted by Maggie on July 22, 2011

I just ran into this article on ‘Billy Brew’ (http://billybrew.com/whats-hot-in-homebrewing).   I know a number of people who are starting to brew beer now so, unless it is a local phenomenon, there must be an increasing trend.    I guess that it goes along with the grow-your-own-food, keep-chickens, etc. trends.   I looked up ‘home brewing’ on Google trends.  Searches have increased.  The country where the most searches are performed?  Australia.

What’s Hot in Homebrewing? 3 Interesting Trends from the 2010 National Homebrew Competition

by Billy Broas

Last month, the National Homebrew Competition (NHC) announced its winners at the National Homebrewers Conference in Minneapolis. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend, but I still had a burning question – what are homebrewers up to these days?

Trends in the commercial beer world are easier to spot. We’re exposed to them through the news, social media, and of course, what we see on our trips to the beer store. Canned beer, imperial [insert any beer style here], and sours are all recent crazes.

But following homebrewing trends is trickier. Batches aren’t posted on some central database for all to study.

Are homebrewers increasing in number? What styles are they brewing? What are the trends?

The NHC gives us some insight into these questions. As the largest homebrewing competition in the world, it provides a good barometer for measuring homebrewing trends.

I put my geek hat on and compiled the data from the past 5 years of competitions. What I found was surprising.

National Homebrew Competition Trends

The first thing I wanted to look at was how many homebrewTotal NHC Entriesers were entering the competition. Was its popularity on the rise or decline? This high-level look gives an idea of the current state of homebrewing in the country.

As seen on the first graph, entries in the competition have risen by 40% over the past 5 years. Entries have risen every year except in 2009 (what the hell 2009?), and the largest jump took place this year when entries rose 22%.

Bottom line: homebrewing’s popularity is increasing.

Onto the next question. I wanted to figure out what styles people were brewing, and what they weren’t brewing. This “style popularity” was the main thing I was interested in. Am I normal in my affinity for brewing IPAs? The data tells all…

Most National Homebrew Competition Entries by Category - 2010

Hmm that is interesting. Looks like American Ales were the most popular style by a large margin. For clarity, the American Ale category refers to pale ales, brown ales, and amber ales. I guess that shouldn’t be too shocking – American brewers are making American styles. But I thought the IPAs would have given them a better run for their money. I’m even more surprised that stouts and Belgian & French Ales beat IPAs.

Maybe we’re not the hopheads we thought we were?

The bottom of the pack is not surprising. Ciders and meads are still very much a sub-niche of homebrewing.

On to the third and final graph. So American Ales are the most popular, but I wanted to know what was hot. That is, what styles are being entered at the fastest rates. Who is on their way to being the next Mr. Popular?

Biggest Increase in Entries - National Homebrew CompetitionClick image to view larger version

Amber Hybrid Beer? Huh?

The Amber Hybrid Beer category consists of Northern German Altbier, California Common, and Dusseldorf Altbier. There were 152 entries in this category in 2010 vs. 100 in 2009. I gotta say that this one surprised me.

Whatever the reason, Amber Hybrids were hot this year.

Bonus Trend

Ok so I wasn’t content just looking at the fastest rising stars versus last year. That could be an anomaly. A better question is what style has increased in popularity the most over the past 5 years?

Answer: Standard Cider and Perry. Maybe the ciders won’t be a sub-niche for long?

If you’re like me and are in desperate need of a more active social life, then here is the Excel file to play around with to your heart’s content.

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2 Responses to “2010 Homebrewing Trends”

  1. Paul Bryan said

    Really interesting stuff. I’m not sure I’ve even had a Hybrid Amber style, let alone attempted to brew one. Time to read up a bit.

  2. Maggie said

    Me neither. I am intrigued by the Dusseldorf Altbier. This is what the Beer Judge Certification Program says about this variety (http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style07.php#1c):

    7C. Düsseldorf Altbier

    Aroma: Clean yet robust and complex aroma of rich malt, noble hops and restrained fruity esters. The malt character reflects German base malt varieties. The hop aroma may vary from moderate to very low, and can have a peppery, floral or perfumy character associated with noble hops. No diacetyl.

    Appearance: Light amber to orange-bronze to deep copper color, yet stopping short of brown. Brilliant clarity (may be filtered). Thick, creamy, long-lasting off-white head.

    Flavor: Assertive hop bitterness well balanced by a sturdy yet clean and crisp malt character. The malt presence is moderated by moderately-high to high attenuation, but considerable rich and complex malt flavors remain. Some fruity esters may survive the lagering period. A long-lasting, medium-dry to dry, bittersweet or nutty finish reflects both the hop bitterness and malt complexity. Noble hop flavor can be moderate to low. No roasted malt flavors or harshness. No diacetyl. Some yeast strains may impart a slight sulfury character. A light minerally character is also sometimes present in the finish, but is not required. The apparent bitterness level is sometimes masked by the high malt character; the bitterness can seem as low as moderate if the finish is not very dry.

    Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Smooth. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Astringency low to none. Despite being very full of flavor, is light bodied enough to be consumed as a session beer in its home brewpubs in Düsseldorf.

    Overall Impression: A well balanced, bitter yet malty, clean, smooth, well-attenuated amber-colored German ale.

    Comments: A bitter beer balanced by a pronounced malt richness. Fermented at cool ale temperature (60-65?F), and lagered at cold temperatures to produce a cleaner, smoother palate than is typical for most ales. Common variants include Sticke (“secret”) alt, which is slightly stronger, darker, richer and more complex than typical alts. Bitterness rises up to 60 IBUs and is usually dry hopped and lagered for a longer time. Münster alt is typically lower in gravity and alcohol, sour, lighter in color (golden), and can contain a significant portion of wheat. Both Sticke alt and Münster alt should be entered in the specialty category.

    History: The traditional style of beer from Düsseldorf. “Alt” refers to the “old” style of brewing (i.e., making top-fermented ales) that was common before lager brewing became popular. Predates the isolation of bottom-fermenting yeast strains, though it approximates many characteristics of lager beers. The best examples can be found in brewpubs in the Altstadt (“old town”) section of Düsseldorf.

    Ingredients: Grists vary, but usually consist of German base malts (usually Pils, sometimes Munich) with small amounts of crystal, chocolate, and/or black malts used to adjust color. Occasionally will include some wheat. Spalt hops are traditional, but other noble hops can also be used. Moderately carbonate water. Clean, highly attenuative ale yeast. A step mash or decoction mash program is traditional.

    Vital Statistics: OG: 1.046 – 1.054
    IBUs: 35 – 50 FG: 1.010 – 1.015
    SRM: 11 – 17 ABV: 4.5 – 5.2%

    Commercial Examples: Altstadt brewpubs: Zum Uerige, Im Füchschen, Schumacher, Zum Schlüssel; other examples: Diebels Alt, Schlösser Alt, Frankenheim Alt

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