First commercialised by Cooper’s more than 150 years ago, Australian pale ale has surged in popularity over the past two decades.
That Beer Bloke Ian Kingham writes in the latest edition of Drinks Trade: “Wider audience appeal, increased volumes, and greater competition has lead to pale ales entering the mainstream market.
“This has caused price deflation, and the affordability puts them close to par with lagers. For consumers choosing to drink less but enjoy more flavour, or to find something that can complement meals, the affordability of pale ales is attractive.”
Kingham (above) predicts these four trends will lead the category moving forward:
1. Summer Ales / Kolsch will increase
“This is a style of pale ale, which is ultimately dumbed down to provide more refreshment and less flavour, simply put, a pale ale trying to be a lager. An excellent beer for those venturing out and not wanting to get too far from lager, and as the season warms a refreshing alternative for ale drinkers.”
2) Pacific Ales will continue to grow
“First developed in Australia by Stone and Wood, Pacific ales are made with higher levels of aromatic hops and less bittering hops, making a fruity/herbally easy drinking style. The strength of brands such as Balter, and Wild Yak are also testament to this growth.
“These are hopped lagers and offer variety, flavour and refreshment. This clean drinking style was a must to avoid for craft brewers, but as their skill and desire to supply easy drinking beers grows, the emergence of more pilsener varieties is evident. There is also a much greater variety in hops from Australia, England, New Zealand and the US that allows brewers to create their own interpretations and variations.”
4) Fruit beers
“These are already emerging, as lager varieties, sours (lactic fermented), and blends (Hazy’s/NEIPA’s). Regardless, the addition of fruit to beer is a way of increasing interest, and many fruits, such as citrus varieties, help to enhance refreshment without detracting from flavour.
Finally, Kingham said, the prevailing trend of buying locally and supporting freshness are overarching themes for beer purchasing, especially in this COVID-19 world.
However, he warns: “The risk that beers will face is that the spirit market is hot on its heels with greater craft, variety, and sessionability than ever before. Aperol Spritz was the start, and gin cocktails, seltzers, and flavoursome refreshing drinks are not limited to beer.”