When you look at craft beer in 2018, the year will be remembered for hazy juicy beer styles and the sheer number of operating breweries reaching a new milestone. The headlines come from an end-of-year news release from the Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, and publishers of CraftBeer.com.
There’s no question 2018 was the year of the so-called “Haze Craze.” Juicy or Hazy Ales debuted in the BA’s Beer Competition Style Guidelines in March as “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.” The categories encompass what many breweries and beer geeks refer to as New England IPAs.
The surge in popularity was nowhere more apparent than at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival, which was the first national competition to include the new styles. The most-entered category was Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale, with 391 entries, knocking American-style IPA out of the spot of most-entered category for the first time in more than a decade. Chicago’s Alarmist Brewing took home gold for its Le Jus.
In late October 2018, the number of operating U.S. breweries surpassed a new milestone, breaking the 7,000 mark. The BA says it’s still crunching numbers, but as many as 1,000 new breweries opened in 2018 — another highlight on the organization’s list.
Independence is another theme the BA noted for 2018. More than 4,000 craft brewing companies have now adopted the independent craft brewer seal, a certified mark released in June 2017. The breweries that have adopted the seal represent 85 percent of the volume of craft beer brewed.
The BA shared this infographic of highlights from craft beer in 2018:
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