THE VINIFICATION OF BEER
The craft beer industry is nothing if not innovative. The latest trend to cause waves is with packaging. More and more craft brewers are housing their beers in large bottles. Last year, about 3.5% of craft beer was sold in traditional 22-ounce sizes, but sales are booming – up 12% year-on-year. In fact, Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware is planning to dedicate one of its two bottling lines to the 75cl format.
Prestige is driving the desire to use larger bottles, with the use of exotic ingredients like cacao nibs and honey along with ageing in whiskey barrels resulting in beers that beg to stand out from the crowd through their larger bottle format. The larger bottles are also an attempt to elevate beer to the same level as wine in a bid to attract a new audience. This trend within the craft beer sphere is being dubbed “wine-ification”, with the beers boasting the high price tags as well. Some beers sell for as much as $3O in stores and for considerably more on restaurant menus. This doesn’t sit well with everyone. Not only do consumers object to the pricing, there are complaints that the large bottles are a challenge to finish in one sitting, and, unlike wine, are unable to be re-corked. What’s more, traditionalists believe that this trend sends a signal that beer is trying to be something that it’s not, and that it needs to be more like wine or Scotch to win over high-end consumers. “As soon as you say you want to be more like wine, the battle is lost. I don’t think beer needs to be more like wine. I think brewers need to keep being themselves,” Ben Granger, owner of Brooklyn craft beer shop Bierkraft, said.