Booze Hound Craft Brewja Arwen Lehman’s 2013 Beer Predictions


Arwen Lehman

Written by Hannah Sentenac for Miami New Times

As we transition into 2013, “experts” in every field are making their annual predictions about what’s bound to happen in the new year. But does anyone really care about who’s planning to get preggers (like the world needs another Kardashian) or which social network’s gonna go bust? Not so much.

Screw the unnecessary prognostications. There are only a few things worth guessing about ahead of time, and one of ’em is booze. So Short Order spoke to Arwen Lehman, AKA the Craft Brewja, on the popularity of barrel-aged brews, numeric triples and why cans are where it’s at in 2013.

Short Order: What trends do you see picking up for craft brews in 2013?>Arwen Lehman, AKA the Craft Brewja: An obvious answer coming from a wildly female-based organization, is that craft beer will continue to explode because more women are getting their hands on it and learning about the wide varieties available. We have known for some time that the impact of women in craft beer has been a huge success for the industry and I certainly expect to see that continue to grow in 2013.

I also suspect, we will see more large breweries trying to stay afloat and gain market share by buying out some of the smaller guys, while trying to fool the beer consumers that they aren’t going to cut corners and impact the quality of the beer. The only good news to that is that hopefully, the brewers from the smaller spots will branch off on their own and continue to make great beer for us. Though their supply will be limited, it will still be out there.

Speaking of limited supply, we will see more Reserve Societies pop-up where members pay to be part of an “elite” group and guarantee they get their hands on limited release beers. The Bruery, for example has theirs listed here. Personally, I am not a member to any of these societies. I leave getting my hands on rarities to chance and expect to find some of them at tastings in 2013.

We will also continue to see the rise of barrel-aged beers for sure! People are going nuts for them. Saisons will likely continue to get more fame as well as folks learn a bit more about craft beer. Hopefully this will continue to lead folks into Sours. And with all the buzz around the Westvleteren XII (Westy), I presume there will be a boom for Belgians, particularly, Abbey Quads.

I also expect to see A LOT of collaborations. While not a new trend, I think collaborations are particularly being sought after as folks learn about their favorite craft brewers partnering up with each other.

And last but not least, cans! Here in South Florida, we especially love them for their versatility. Great for picnics, the beach or even just to bring them along with you to a friends house. It’s a win, win; excellent quality and no broken glass!

What are some brews you recommend for 2013?
Ha! Hoping someone out there will offer me a Westy XII (Brouwerij Westvleteren), first and foremost!

There are a ton of resources I use to find what I should be looking for annual releases. For example, I would start with list of breweries and check out their calendar for release dates. The tricky part about doing this is geography. Unfortunately, here in Florida we are limited with what comes into the state. Brown and Gold Coast have done wonders for us, but often times limited supply plays a big factor in what we can and cannot get our hands on. Rate Beer has a great list of places to start with their recommendations of the best breweries in the world. Here is an example of Founder’s release dates.

Outside of doing this, I will be on the lookout for seasonal, anniversary and collaboration beers as I shop around.

Any beer trends or common themes from 2012 you see phasing out?
Because so many folks are just getting into the scene, I think breweries are continuing to focus on new trends rather than phasing things out as a whole.

Dates played a fun role in some beer names over the last ten years with creations like the Stone Vertical Epic series. The series began with their 02.02.02 edition and ran it’s course wrapping up this year with the 12.12.12 edition.

Now that the numeric triples won’t be available for another 100 years, we won’t be seeing much of that anymore.

Any patterns or trends you see specific to South Florida?
Breweries, brewpubs, beer gardens and home-brew clubs!

While not in South Florida, I think Tampa will continue to help make Florida’s mark in the craft beer community. Cigar City really catapulted Florida to be a player in the scene but we now see breweries on the west coast of the state like St. Somewhere, Cold Storage, Dunedin and 7venth Sun Brewing to be more commonly known breweries. And Swamphead, out of Gainesville, is certainly not to be overlooked either!

Down south, we of course are all anxiously awaiting the opening of The Funky Buddha’s much anticipated full fledged brewery, Wynwood Brewing Co. and Gravity Brewbar.

Tequesta Brewing Co. and Due South have helped to lay the groundwork and inspire others to make South Florida a hub for good beer and offer some balance to our friends in northern Florida.

Places like The Butcher Shop in Wynwood and staples like Abraxas on the beach will undoubtedly help the boom sustain.

As for home-brew clubs, I think 2013 will be the year of formal organizing. Facebook pages, twitter handles and websites are starting to pop-up in South Florida with names like Miami Beer Scene, The Misfits, HookGrip Brewing, Subvert Ales, Niferts Strong Ales, Opus Ales, Moron Brothers, Fourth Age Brewing, B.R.E.W. FIU and Most Wanted Brewery. These groups, clubs and potential businesses are all part of the equation in growing the local craft beer scene.

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