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Craft Beer in 2020 featuring Nick Scofield of Solemn Oath Brewery

Welcome to our newly relaunched podcast! For the first ever Dinner + Drinks Interview, we’re talking craft beer with Nick Scofield, Sales Director at Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville, Illinois. This episode is the first of a series of 4 podcasts looking back at 2019, and taking a glimpse into 2020. In this episode:

  • Nick gives us the background on Solemn Oath Brewery, a Great American Beer Festival award winning brewery located in Naperville, Illinois that produces about 7,000 barrels of beer a year in a variety of different styles.
  • Nick shares how he worked his way up to be Sales Director at the brewery, and what keeps him on the road selling beer every day.
  • We talk about some of the trends we saw in 2019 – the good, the bad, and the interesting.
  • Finally, we take a look forward into 2020, and make predictions about what we expect to see in the craft beer world!

You can listen to the episode online using the player below, or you can use the links in the player to listen on your favorite podcast player.


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Nick’s Five Predictions for Craft Beer in 2020

I have a few thoughts on things we will see happening in the craft beer industry this upcoming year. Some of these we discussed in the episode, and some we didn’t. In no particular order, here are a few guesses from me:

  1. Low calorie / “better for you beers” will be big. Founders’ All Day IPA was the first lower alcohol “session” pale ale, and it’s been a huge hit. People like flavor, but also want to watch calories, alcohol and carbs. Anheuser-Busch is taking a big bet on this type of beer by releasing Goose Island So-Lo, and Elysian Contact Haze as low alcohol, low calorie flavorful beers. Generally AB doesn’t release products with this much fanfare if they don’t think it’ll be super successful. I think we’ll see a lot of beers in this space this year.
  2. Experimental hop varieties will become more mainstream. IPA is king of beer, and rotation nation is the name of the game. How can breweries keep releasing new beers that taste different than the previous 50 they released? Fruiting is one way, adding lactose is another, but in 2020, I think we’ll see more experimental hop varieties featured to bring new flavors to pale ales. Nick mentioned this on the podcast a bit, but hop growers are coming up with new, exciting crosses of different hop varieties all the time. Currently these hops have names like XO6277, but some will hit it big and get names like Citra, or Mosaic. We look forward to growers continuing to push boundaries of what hops can taste like, and seeing brewers use these to make more flavorful beers!
  3. West Coast IPA makes a comeback. Okay, really, you don’t need to call it a comeback, it’s been here for years, but “traditional” dry, resinous, hoppy West Coast IPA was a huge revolution in the beer industry for a reason – it tastes good! We’ve shifted so far towards hazy, juicy IPAs that I sometimes finding myself yearning for something like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I don’t think I’m alone, and I think we’ll see more focus on this style of pale ale in 2020.
  4. Hard seltzer. Yep. It’s a thing. This is the most obvious of all of these five predictions, but hard seltzer will keep being a beast. I think Nick did a great job of explaining why people like it while we were chatting on the episode, and I don’t see this trend going away. It’s not Brut IPA. I do think more craft breweries will get into making hard seltzer, and explore some fun flavors. I love what Solemn Oath is doing with their City Water project. As the Chicago Tribune says, it’s pretty darn good.
  5. Canned barrel aged beers will hit the mainstream. Another point we hit on in the episode, but I think it bears repeating here. After years of big 13% ABV barrel aged beers being put in 22 oz. bomber bottles that are hard to finish by yourself, barrel aged beers are making their way into cans. A 12 oz. can of a delicious bourbon barrel aged stout is the perfect serving size for these types of beer. Solemn Oath, Revolution, and others are putting their barrel aged creations into cans, and I think more breweries will soon follow.


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