Look Forward to These Beer Trends in 2021

In a year that has been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses still have to find a way to make money, and breweries have to look forward to the next step.

Santa Monica Brew Works isn’t one to back down from a challenge. It only reopened its outdoor beer garden the second weekend of October, with the indoor taproom still closed, but co-founder, CEO and President Scott Francis said they have plans to continue growth in 2021 by doubling the brewery’s footprint and introducing food into the taproom, as well as adding a second production area with additional brew space and storage.

“Everyone in our organization has really stepped up, and we are working more efficiently as a team than ever before,” Francis said. The expansion will rope in Nevada and California (and eventually Arizona) without opening another production facility outside of Santa Monica.

“It’s so important for us to remain authentic — every beer we sell is brewed right in the heart of our hometown of Santa Monica,” Francis said. “Not only will our expanded brewery footprint allow us to do more of what we do best — make beer — it will also double the size of our indoor Tasting Room which serves as a gathering place for the community. We look forward, when it’s safe, to welcome patrons back inside.”

Like so many other breweries, the focus has been off-premise sales.

“As we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to pivot and address the opportunity to get our beers to our loyal and new consumers through new and different channels,” Director of Sales Dean Leamy said. “With our solid following in the bar and restaurant scene impacted due to closures and restrictions, we needed to grow our availability in the off-premise segment.”

SMBW has had sales growth of over 40% YTD in off-prem with 133.5% growth in the month of September.

“As we close 2020 and look to 2021 our plan is to continue our momentum with additional brands and packages available across all retail segments,” Leamy said.

Head Brewer of Santa Monica Brew Works Drew Pomatti said he sees the industry progressing toward lower ABV beers and lower calorie fermented beverages.

“I predict Lagers and Pilsners will continue to grow in popularity but also gluten-free beverages such as hard seltzer or even fermented tonics,” he said. “The use of unconventional ingredients in traditional styles also seems to be on the rise. I’m excited to experiment with beers that challenge expectations.”

Still, Hazy IPAs are the brewery’s top seller and Pomatti’s favorite style to brew.

“Hop-forward beers with low bitterness, the flavor combinations are virtually endless, whether it be dank and resinous or fruity and tropical — I enjoy blending hop varieties to achieve flavors that keep our beers interesting for drinkers,” Pomatti said. “I want to keep them excited about what’s coming next from SMBW.”

New Realm Brewing, based out of Atlanta, is looking at opportunities to expand its footprint and brand portfolio.

Bob Powers, CSMO and co-founder of New Realm said the brewery will have some announcements before the year is over.

“Nothing we can share publicly yet, but needless to say, we are looking at this period as one that provides opportunity for growth,” Powers said. “We won’t expand distribution substantially as we sit currently, as we’ve always said that we won’t distribute in states where we don’t have breweries. We do, however, feel like in 2021 (post-pandemic) we need to re-introduce our brands in territories that we rolled during the COVID shut-downs.”

Brewmaster and co-founder Mitch Steele is excited about new hop varieties to work with that have recently been released, and he’s excited about the potential growth of Lager styles.

“Our Lagers really do well in our restaurants, which may indicate a growth trend coming soon,” he said. “We’re actively putting competitive Lagers through our sensory panel, and delving into naming, packaging, pricing, etc. to ensure that if we do see an opportunity, we are prepared to launch as successfully as possible.”

Their investment in a new high-speed canning line at the Virginia Beach location should help with that, along with a TPO analyzer and seam check equipment.

“We’re releasing a low-calorie low-carbohydrate Hazy IPA this year as well — this is a style we’ve been working on for almost two years,” he said. “We’re also working on several non-beer beverages, such as seltzers.”

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