Moon Gazer Ales at Norfolk Brewhouse | www.moongazerale.co.uk
David Holliday of Moon Gazer Ales at Norfolk Brewhouse on his plans for 2021
As 2020 thankfully draws to a close, I thought it would be fitting that my last column of the year should focus on the positives of what 2021 will bring in the beer world, rather than dwell on the well documented challenges faced by us all over the last 12 months.
What’s the next big thing? What comes after gin? What’s the go to beer style going to be? Can you do a cider?
These are probably the most frequently asked questions I get asked on my travels.
I get it. Our customers need to sell what the market needs – they need to be relevant, they need to sell stuff that keeps customers coming in.
Now, allow me a brief moment of cynicism and realism just to paint a picture. As someone who has been involved in marketing in the drinks industry for more than 30 years, drink is no different to fashion or music – the industries are like sharks who have to keep moving forward just to survive.
They are also very clever: that go to outfit, that bang on trend sound, they are more often than not predetermined and planned. Drinks are no exception as everything has a shelf life, and, as soon as a drink is hitting the up curve, the marketing guys are looking to kick start the next thing. Nowt wrong with it really, but to get to my point: in amongst all the flurry and excitement of the fruitiest gin, and the haziest, hoppiest beer, there are also always constants.
A pint of well brewed, well balanced and well kept ale will always hit the spot, as will a cold lager on a hot sunny day. Guinness, for example, has resolutely stayed the same yet is always in fashion. Returning to my earlier comparisons with fashion and music – there will always be musicians with chart topping staying power across the decades and there will always be classic cut clothes that are seemingly timeless.
As for what insiders say next year will bring in the craft beer world, the top tips seem to be:
- IPAs – with softer hoppiness, fruitier flavours and more experiments with sour and milkshake styles.
- Hard Seltzers – that’s alcoholic mineral water to you and me.
- Low and non-alcoholic – cramming in the flavour but taking out the alcohol will grow.
- Sour beers – they taste off to many but they are on trend and growing.
- Lager – continues to get the craft makeover.
For me, and team Moon Gazer, we choose to brew what we have a passion for and what we enjoy. Global domination is not in our plans so we have the luxury of being able to stick to our guns – keeping our beer relevant and interesting by ringing the changes but not feeling the need to jump on any particular band wagon.
So, of the predicted trends above, you will excuse us if we leave numbers 2, 3, and 4 to others, but we’ll happily join in with the lagers and IPAs.
2021 will ring the changes at Team Moon Gazer as we move forward in our own little way, with plans afoot for….
- Good to Great – continuing the process of taking our core beers and tweaking them in stages to lift them still further.
- Strong Ale – look out for a 7.5% Barley Wine – yes, very old school but our contemporary take on this old classic will be coming in the New Year.
- Spirit Away – gin is here to stay but during lockdown we have been quietly teaming up with neighbours and distillers, Black Shuck, to create a special beer-based spirit which will be out as a tasty limited edition.
- New England IPA – yes, a hazy Moon Gazer will finally make it to the shelves and bars.
- Norfolk Cider – well, never say never and we keep trying to collaborate with our mates at Whin Hill. Rest assured if and when we do it will be a true Norfolk cider! But in the meantime you can’t go wrong with a Whin Hill folks!
And, of course once the pubs get back to full speed, we will start our regular guest ales and specials too, but for now, the to do list is long enough.
Norfolk is our home, it’s our larder and our inspiration and it will always be the most important market to us.
Everything has its place, but for Team Moon Gazer it starts with the passion not the fashion – rightly or wrongly that’s how we like it.
Enjoy the festive season and let’s all raise a glass to a fabulous 2021. Now where did I put that Babycham?