Top 6 Beer Trends to Look Forward to in 2020

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Beer trends may come and go, but love of beer remains a constant. It takes different forms in different countries (did you know that Japan loves lots of foam?), but beer continues to be a staple in countless places around the world.

Not only is the beer industry a constant, it’s not slowing down, either. Between 2020 and 2024, the global beer market is expected to grow by nearly $100 billion, with countries in APAC accounting for fully half of that growth. APAC currently makes up the largest share of the global market, with China being the leading country in the region and Japan also landing a spot in the top five. So what’s been happening in the brewing world, and what beer trends can we expect to see in 2020?

Fresh hop beer is on the rise

Fresh hop beer – otherwise known as wet hop beer – is made with freshly picked hops within 24 hours of harvesting them. It creates a different flavor profile than beers made traditionally with dried hops, and the resulting product has a fresher, grassier taste.

Because of the tight timeframe in which these beers can be made, there are a limited number of brewers that can make them and a limited number of products on the market. However, hop production in the US is on the rise, meaning that more brewers can access the ingredient within the necessary timeframe, and have greater quantities available to work with. 2019 was a banner year for fresh hop beers, and we expect to see more varieties on the market in 2020 as brewers take advantage of greater availability of freshly picked hops.

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More customers are looking for low ABV beers

Drinks with little or no alcohol continue to be trendy, and beer is no exception to this. Young adults are more likely to abstain from alcohol than in the past, and they’re not the only ones. Beer brands are working to capitalize on this, with 2019 seeing new offerings from industry giants such as Budweiser and Heineken, as well as the rise of new brands based entirely around alcohol-free beer. This trend will continue to pick up momentum in 2020 with more consumers demanding no- and low-alcohol beers and brewers of all sizes working to meet that demand. Expect to see alcohol-free versions of existing products along with new innovations both big brands and craft brewers in North America and Europe.

Suggested reading: Global Craft Beer Industry Expects Stronger Growth Through 2022

Hard seltzer sinks its claws into the market

It’s debatable whether hard seltzer qualifies as a beer, but you’ll find it at many breweries. It rocketed into popularity last summer with products like White Claw, offering a low-calorie, low-alcohol, affordable beverage that appeals to a lot of today’s drinkers. While a few brands dominated the market in 2019, many craft breweries and other beer companies are creating their own offerings to meet this spike in demand.

Industry experts disagree on whether seltzer has long-term staying power, but for 2020 at least, there will be more new varieties hitting the shelves as brewers capitalize on its popularity and consumers continue to seek out light, low-alcohol beverages.

IPAs are here to stay

IPAs have been the subject of several beer trends over the past few years, enjoying a big leap in popularity, and it looks like that isn’t about to change. Milkshake IPAs, hazy IPAs, fresh hop IPAs…some of these may be running their course, but IPAs as a whole continue to be popular, and new variations are popping up as well. Industry experts are predicting that we’ll see lighter IPAs with fruity and dry profiles in the coming year.

Low-calorie and “healthy” beer trends

This can be seen in the popularity of seltzers and low-alcohol beers: an increasing number of people are looking for “healthier” options in their drinks. While diets aren’t a new thing, the popularity of keto and paleo trends means that people are looking for ways to enjoy the food and drink they love without breaking their diets. Breweries are also introducing drinks like alcoholic kombucha, taking advantage of health and wellness trends to sell their products to a wider customer base.

Suggested reading: Health and Wellness Trends to Look Out For in 2020

AI is helping take beers to the next level

As AI systems become more sophisticated and more accessible, beer companies are beginning to incorporate it into their production processes. This isn’t to say that AI systems are controlling the brewing process from start to finish – human brewmasters are still very much involved. But AI can be used to evaluate recipes and ingredients in order to develop better beers.

IntelligentX was the first beer company to use AI and machine learning to develop its recipes. It gathers feedback on its beers from customers, an AI processes the data and generates advice based on that, and the brewers decide whether to incorporate that advice into their next recipe.

Other brewers are turning to AI for insights as well: some are feeding successful (and unsuccessful) recipes into an algorithm to develop the best recipes or predict how well a recipe will perform. A team of researchers in Australia even used AI to determine the best quantity of foam on top of a beer. While it’s early days yet, an increasing number of beer brands will start taking advantage of the power of AI to help them capture customers with the perfect beer.

Learn more about the global beer industry with Technavio’s market research report:
  • Detailed information on factors that will accelerate the growth of the beer market during the next five years
  • Precise estimation of the global beer market’s size and its contribution to the parent market
  • Informed predictions on upcoming beer trends and changes in consumer behavior
  • The growth of the beer industry across APAC, Europe, MEA, North America, and South America
  • A thorough analysis of the market’s competitive landscape and detailed information on vendors
  • Comprehensive details of factors that will challenge the growth of beer vendors