April and May busy in USA, as John Fearless showcased at CBC in Denver, CO and CCBA in San Diego, CA

John Fearless has been busy in recent weeks attending the US Craft Brewers Conference in Denver (April 8-11) and the California Craft Brewers Association’s Spring Conference in San Diego (May 5-7). Fearless had a stand at both, showcasing our wide range of products for craft brewers, and in Denver we were joined by our partners Stoak Technologies (showcasing their all-natural liquid beer stabilizer, BrewShield) and Milne (with their MicroDried fruits).

The initial burst of very rapid, double-digit growth in the US craft beer industry has in recent years been settling out at around 4-6% growth per year, with a similar figure projected for 2019. The industry is maturing, with brewers refining their business models. This process will inevitably see some breweries with less sustainable models falling by the wayside, but a lot more breweries are opening than closing. Both conferences we attended were a hive of activity, with a great deal of innovation on show. Everyone agrees beer quality is getting better and better, and that comes with experience.

IPA’s remain the number one craft beer type and have grown to represent 40% of the US craft beer market as per the most recent scan data out of retail stores; this type is becoming heavily diversified and encompassing a wide range of different styles, united by their hop-hungriness which is driving aromatic hop innovation. Still waiting to come to fruition in terms of volume but often mooted as the next big movers are lagers and pilsners. These craft lagers are hoppier than their standard counterparts, often brewed using more traditional – or ‘noble’ – aromatic hops that provide a subtler hop aroma than those that go into, say, an IPA. The craft pilsners are slight variations on traditional pilsners, offering a unique quality – for example, a ‘slow pour’ in which a 3-4-minute pour from tap is said to open up the pilsner’s flavours and give it a satisfyingly big head.

Some craft brewers are expanding their portfolios into other types of alcoholic beverages such as flavored malt beverages (FMBs) and alcoholic versions of clear, carbonated soda drinks known as seltzers. These can diversify a brewer’s product range while utilising the same equipment and incurring little extra cost. FMBs were first produced by the big brewers 20 years or more ago, but seltzers are newer, also malt-based and – importantly – devoid of sugar. Both FMBs and seltzers can be used as mixers for cocktails. The flavor profile they contain can sometimes be unstable and short-lived, so we are exploring whether Stoak’s BrewShield can help protect and lock in flavor in these products.

Finally, we are experiencing a big increase in demand from craft brewers for the dried fruit we supply from Washington State’s highly-respected Milne Fruit Products. Milne MicroDried fruits come in fragment or powder form and have two exciting attributes: they are 100% all-natural, and in terms of storage they are a breeze. They come in handy-sized 10lb or 40lb bags or boxes – re-sealable once opened – that can be stored at room temperature, removing the need for the freezing/refrigeration capacity required when using purees or concentrates. We can supply everything from blackberry, blueberry, mandarin/orange, mango, peach, pineapple, pomegranate and more, all imparting great flavor and color into your beer. Get in touch!   

Key Takeaways

John Fearless can provide: aroma and bittering hops from the US, South Africa and New Zealand; Humuflor hop essences; Stoak’s all-natural liquid beer stabilizer, BrewShield; Milne MicroDried fruit fragments and powders; used wine, bourbon, whiskey and rum barrels.

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