Jonathan Ingram's picture

This full story is available to premium subscribers.

Login / Subscribe
Subscription options for $2, $15 and $25.


2020 Trends in Craft

Have you tried Hazy Little Thing from Sierra Nevada? Perhaps you’ve dipped into the new, health-conscious Slightly Mighty by Dogfish Head, or maybe tossed back a Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City.

If so, you’ve joined almost every current trend in consumption of IPAs, a style that continues to lead off-premises packaged sales by a wide margin as measured by IRI Worldwide, a market research firm that tracks category-wide sales trends of beer sold in numerous retail outlets and then produces a monthly report of its findings. The market has shifted its collective tongue when it comes to IPA, one that favors softer-on-the-palate, juicy IPAs where the old lines of distinction between malts and hops are less prominent.

Introduced from its bayside residence in Tampa at Cigar City Brewing, the jazzily named Jai Alai is another growth leader. An early response to the juicy craze, albeit with bitterness still in play, it has been penetrating new markets faster than a pelota hurled from a cesta. For those not familiar with its parlance, Jai Alai is a high-speed betting game imported from the Basque country and loved by generations of Florida tourists. CANarchy, the private equity-driven team that bet on a collective approach to craft brewing and counts Oskar Blues, Three Weavers, Deep Ellum, Perrin and Wasatch & Squatters in its portfolio, has scored biggest with the popularity of Jai Alai by making Cigar City beers available in widespread markets following acquisition.

The jump in Jai Alai sales underscores how the current “hazy, juicy craze” continues to drive innovation in the IPA category that enjoys nearly 40 percent of overall packaged retail sales by craft brewers in the U.S., according to IRI. Those statistics, of course, include all craft brands and not only the tighter box drawn by the Brewers Association that eliminates brands with more than 25 percent ownership by a macro brewer.

At this year’s annual migration to Denver known as the Great American Beer Festival, there was an undercurrent of disquiet, underscored by a lack of ticket sellouts the first two nights. It was as if the trend to juicy, hazy beers has brewers preoccupied about how to deal with it at the packaged, retail level. Joining the trend would require lots of research and risk due to the less-than-stable nature of the style. Waiting for the trend to end might take a long time. And, if it ends, where will beer sales, which are closer to flat these days, go? Which way is this train headed?

Finish reading this article by becoming a premium subscriber.
Visit the store now. Options start for only $2.00!


Table of Contents