Not all beer trends are created equal. Some have staying power and become national or global phenomena, while others fizzle quickly. There are several movements coursing through American breweries that are worth celebrating, but, for now, let’s focus on the absolute worst. We’re examining the garbage gimmicks that deserve a good riddance. That leave a bad taste in your mouth. That make you want to White Claw your eyes out.
Below, beer makers confess the recent developments they wish would disappear.
“Lactose in IPAs. Not a fan.” — Brandon Tolbert, Owner and Brewer, Short Throw Brewing
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
“Big Beer creating new breweries in popular beer-centric destinations while posing them as independent startups. The average consumer is unaware that their money is not supporting the local craft-beer community, but rather the international beer conglomerates.” — Ignacio Montenegro, Co-Founder, Tripping Animals Brewing Company
“I’m tired of breweries ignoring sexual harassment and sexism and treating it as ‘boys being boys.’ In over half of the breweries I’ve worked at, I‘ve experienced examples as blatant as a head brewer telling everyone he would screw me straight. Or less obvious instances where a man asks why I’m the one carrying something heavy. It’s 2019 and I demand equality and respect.” — Megan Stone, Brewer
“I think ratings on apps and websites have taken some of the human element out of craft beer. While it’s great to have craft-beer fans excited about beer X, Y, or Z, I often see consumers relying too heavily on ratings to drive what they purchase as opposed to having a conversation with their bartenders and brewers. Most all of my beer ‘Aha!’ moments have come through connecting with someone and trying something completely new and unfamiliar. I think it’s our jobs as brewers and bartenders to help guide more of those experiences for craft-beer fans.” — Corey Gargiulo, General Manager, Evil Twin Brewing NYC
“The packaging and selling of unfinished beer. Many small breweries don’t have the necessary pasteurization capabilities in order to make a product stable after blending in various fruits and juices, so they package it in cans and warn the consumer to ‘keep it cold’ to avoid the cans exploding. For me, this is a trend I’d like to see fade away. Either buy a pasteurizer for your cans, or simply keep it on tap in your taproom where it can be controlled.” — Paul Wasmund, Head Brewer and Blender, Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending
“The ‘slow pour’ pilsner. I appreciate and cherish the craft of beer and can see why this is desirable. However, there are other ways to achieve optimal flavors and aromas without bartenders having to wait five to seven minutes to serve the beer.” — Mark Johnson, Brewer, DuClaw Brewing Company
“Seltzers in breweries. I think the trend will leave a negative impact on the integrity of the industry. I understand the desire to diversify, especially given stagnant sales across the industry of late, but hard seltzer is not the answer. I can get down with hazy IPAs, pastry stouts, and even beer cocktails. Seltzer is a quick copout for a lot of fledgling places. I’d like to see low-calorie beer or even nonalcoholic craft options fill the void. At least it’s still beer.” — Chris Gilmore, Brewer, Lone Tree Brewing Company
“A trend making me sad, but I don’t see it ever going away, unfortunately, is the ouroboros of hype. People want to get a beer everyone’s talking about, stand in line for its release or pay scandalous money, sometimes more than eightfold the initial price, and of course they will rate it marvelous even if it’s just O.K. Nobody wants to admit putting a lot of effort, be it time or money or both, into just a good beer. So they call it exceptional and more people want it. And here we go again. This leaves out of the spectrum of attention thousands of really good breweries. Plus, there is enjoyment-versus-price ratio. Do you feel that beer was worth every penny you paid? Sometimes you pay a lot but feel cheated because the beer wasn’t as great as you expected it to be. And if someone pays way more than the brewery price and is not happy, all the discontent unfairly goes to the brewer, not to the secondary market trader in part driving the hype.” — Lana Svitankova, Speaker, Varvar Brew
“Was glitter beer ever a trend?” — Mike Shatzel, Co-Owner, Thin Man Brewery
“Not enough minorities, blacks, and Hispanics drinking craft beer. I’ve been in the brewing industry since 2015 and have experienced nothing but greatness from the beer to the people who enter our establishment. What I do not see, though, is a lot of color. … Overall, I’ve experienced great beers and breweries but I would love to see more diversity in the industry.” — James Higgs, Intern, Forager Brewery
“Distributor consolidation and the buying up of craft breweries and brands by large multinational companies is creating a super-challenging retail environment for all the independent craft brewers.” — Ron Jeffries, Founder and Brewer, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
“Whole pastries, instead of constituent ingredients, going into stouts. You’re not even thinking about flavors anymore, you’re just trying to do something for Instagram.” — Ethan Buckman, Co-Owner and Head Brewer, Stickman Brews
“The liberal interpretation of double dry hopping, or DDH, is a pet peeve of mine. DDH is an actual process where the first dry hop is added during active fermentation and the second in secondary. But most people simply just dry hop multiple days. And also, double of what? Since most brewers don’t disclose their original dry hop rate, they’ve started a dry hopping arms race. I’ve seen as high as 15 pounds per barrel, and that’s just a waste! Only so much hop oil can dissolve in beer. At a certain point it’s literally throwing money down the drain.” — Morgan Clark Snyder Jr., Owner and Brewer, Buttonwoods Brewery
“I’m over the meatheads who still think it’s O.K. to put out sexist beer labels and social media posts. It’s not edgy or tongue in cheek. It’s gross, it’s harmful, and it should be beneath us as an industry. I also think it appeals to the type of crowd who have no problem commenting on a female bartender’s appearance, but would only take a beer recommendation from a dude. No one needs more of that.” — Jonathan Moxey, Head Brewer, Rockwell Beer Company
”It’s exciting that the popularity of high quality and well-made lagers is on the rise. It’s a huge bummer, however, when brewers chase trends and make lagers with cheap ingredients, poor brewing techniques, and fast tank times. It has taken a long time and a great deal of hard work to get well-made, vibrant, and incredible lagers out to the U.S. beer drinker. I believe that innovation and tradition can go hand in hand with this realm of beers, but the key is for the brewer to respect the scope and the challenge of brewing lager beer.” — Josh Pfriem, Co-Founder and Brewmaster, pFriem Family Brewers
“The beer community is a vocal one, and we love how people freely review, discuss, and share their opinions about beers they try. However, a trend I see that isn’t constructive is a tendency of people to default their reviews to a comparison of any given beer to an archetype of that beer style. As opposed to evaluating a beer as an independent expression of a style — and most importantly whether they liked it! — it becomes more a question of does it taste like X beer or is it better than Y beer. We as a brewery place primary importance on innovation and are never trying to duplicate an expression of any given style. So, we believe it would be a positive move for craft beer if the community would keep an open mind and evaluate beers as unique steps along an evolution of a style, not a catalog of archetype imitations.” — Harris Stewart, Founder and CEO, TrimTab Brewing
“I honestly hate the unfermented, super-fruited beers, the ones where you can literally chew on the fruit particles like a smoothie. The first time someone let me taste one I thought it was some sort of beer slushie. These aren’t safe unless you have a way to pasteurize. Then more power to you. But at that point just go down to Jamba Juice and get yourself a smoothie.” — Alyssa Thorpe, Head Brewer, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery
“As a Belgian brewer who believes in the artistry of beer, I am afraid brewers are complacent with the ‘Chardonnization’ of their beers. We are bound by styles and rules but we’re not able to differentiate ourselves. You sell a kettle sour, a porter, and an IPA. Oh, great. So does Starbucks — sorry, I mean the brewery on the other side of the street. How do you make your taproom stand out? Is it the liquid? Is it your ties to the community? I challenge brewers to think out of the box. If you have an IPA that’s fruity, can you describe it differently than an IPA? Can you educate the consumer who hates IPAs on how they can appreciate this emerging style that now has so many subcategories? Unfortunately, we have seen winemakers go down the road and sell their wine by grape variety in the new world or by region in the old world. Creatively, I think we can push ourselves even more!” — Peter Bouckaert, Co-Owner and Brewer, Purpose Brewing & Cellars
“Overloaded sweetness. Great for sipping, but ruins the session and really messes up your gut.” — Tim Matthews, Head of Brewing Operations, Oskar Blues Brewery
“The eternally unsatisfied drinker.” — Antonio Lopes, Owner and Brewer, Lupum