New year, new trends. Every January, drink pros love to round up what wonders we can look forward to exploring for the next 12 months, and we love to read all about them and get to all that discovering.
For 2021, we’re especially excited. The biggest trends are a mix of new inventions, old favorites having a resurgence, and things we fell in love with last year only getting bigger and better. Best of all, all of these trends are ready to be embraced on TapRm. So, we’re highlighting the 2021 drink stories we’re most psyched about here, with a guide to how you can start making the most of them now without leaving this very site.
2021 is Making Lemonade Out of 2020’s Lemons
One of the biggest trends for 2021 is riding hard seltzer’s coattails of light, crisp, refreshing, easy-drinking, crushable goodness--and then striking out on its own to prove itself a rising force to be reckoned with in this year’s growing range of new drink favorites. Lemonade is basically synonymous with a delicious cool-down, and now spiked lemonade is bringing that energy to adult beverages. We didn’t think we could be more excited for warm weather, and then came the hard lemonade trend. Cracking open a can is an irresistible way to channel those sunny vibes now.
Explore the trend with Crook & Marker’s Spiked Lemonade Variety Pack, featuring fresh fruit flavors like classic, watermelon, raspberry, and blueberry, all at a low 4% ABV with zero sugar. There’s also Great South Bay Brewery’s Spiked Lemonade Hard Seltzer, a light and locally made delight that’s bursting with flavor.
There are plenty of other ways to get major lemon taste and aroma, that tartness brightening up other drinks like hard tea and even beer. Think Loverboy’s Lemon Iced Tea, a spiked and sparkling beverage; ICONYC Brewing’s Lemondrop Pils, brewed with lots of lemon zest; Mayflower Brewing Company’s Resistance is Fruitile sour ale brewed with blueberry and lemon; and Owl’s Brew English Breakfast Tea, a spiked and bubbly tipple with lemon and lime.
We’re Indulging in Our Health and Wellness
One silver lining of 2020 is that many of us started to pay closer attention to our own health and wellness. In 2021, that’s manifesting as a healthful approach to even the ways we celebrate or unwind. We’ve realized we can indulge without losing sight of our health goals or what makes us feel truly good. What’s a bigger and better win-win than delicious fun that’s still good for you?
One of the most direct routes to this perfect combination is through hard kombucha. Hard kombucha can be the life of the party and it can contain probiotics and it can be brewed with helpful nutrients and it can be light on all the stuff that isn’t so friendly to your health routine. It’s pretty amazing, actually.
There’s Flying Embers’ Grapefruit Thyme Hard Kombucha, with zero sugar and zero carbs and tons of flavor. There’s Kombrewcha’s Berry Hibiscus Hard Kombucha, a dreamy thirst-quencher with only 4.4% alcohol. There’s JuneShine’s 100 Hibiscus Lime Hard Kombucha, a getaway in a can with just 100 calories. Or, how about Jiant’s Passion Fruit & Elderflower Hard Kombucha, gluten-free and brewed with organic green tea and sustainably sourced honey? You could also take things up a notch with Strainge Beast’s Passion Fruit, Hops, & Blood Orange Hard Kombucha, at 7% ABV.
Low-ABV Options are Getting Tastier--and More Clutch to Have on Hand for Casual Hangs
Hand in hand with more mindful and health-geared imbibing, lower ABVs are a major trend from 2020 that’s only booming bigger for 2021. 2020 changed our drinking habits for many of us, and we realized we need and want more options for being able to kick back more casually at home. We want to be able to enjoy an adult beverage or two without too much interference to our lives and routines. Low and no-alcohol options had steadily been improving, but recently, the options seem endless and they all offer up better taste than ever before. From beers to seltzers to teas, these drinks prove that low alcohol doesn’t have to mean low complexity or low innovation. And the selection is only growing--personally, we can never wait to see what’s coming next.
We recently rounded up some of our picks in this category here. To recap, you can get your low-ABV kicks with sparkling seltzers like the fruity varieties from Fountain or from Take Five. You can enjoy an easy-drinking beer like the Light & Tight Anytime Lager from Sunday Beer Company, or a lovely dry cider like the Brut Super Dry from Austin Eastciders. You could take the tea road with the Owl’s Brew Matcha or spice things up with a ginger beer from Halyard Brewing Company. Or, you can make any time brunch time with a mouthwatering mimosa from Ohza.
Good Causes are Here to Stay, for Good
From drinks that make you feel good physically to drinks that make you feel good spiritually: beer for better is a trend that’s only getting bigger this year. The craft beer industry has always worked as hard at helping the community as it has on killer brews, which is one of the many--and perhaps most important--reasons we heart beer. In 2020, when a global pandemic created a massive struggle just for a brewery to survive, breweries still didn’t stop there. Many went above and beyond with beers that raised money for their local hospitality communities, beers that raised funds and awareness for social justice and the fight against systemic racism, and beers for an array of vital causes, missions, and initiatives, like LGBTQ+ equity, inclusion, and representation. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: beer that does some good in the world just tastes better!
We only see this movement picking up speed for the year ahead, which is inspiring. If you haven’t yet checked out the Black is Beautiful collaboration, created by Weathered Souls Brewing, make sure you try the incredible Baobab-infused version from Montclair Brewery. For an IPA take on the giving spirit, Interboro’s Mad Fat Pride was brewed to raise money for the LGBTQ+ community. Bronx Brewery’s Some Like It Hopped Hoppy Vienna Lager was also dreamed up to raise funds for LGBTQ+ causes. The best pairing for these beers? Getting motivated and doing some real work for your community, yourself, from donating to volunteering to advocating.
Brands are Continuing to Innovate and Expand Our Drink Options
We’ve been seeing steady growth in the variety of our drink options, from beer to seltzer to tea to lemonade to ready-to-drink cocktails. Because of the irresistibly effortless appeal of cracking open a can to enjoy a complex cocktail or totally original invention, brands are only further upping their game for 2021, expanding on what we ever even imagined could go in a can. It seems like every day, new cocktail favorites from the bar are hitting shelves ready to be enjoyed, and completely new creations are being introduced, like “Frankenstein” beverages, or drinks that combine different tipples into one new delight.
That means it’s a great time to discover the joy of light and refreshing canned sake from WESAKE. Or how about this Pinot Pear wine spritzer from Little Fancy? Halyard Brewing Company whipped up a shandy with ginger beer, super fresh with a little heat. And, Departed Soles Brewing Company made a fruity seltzer with champagne yeast--cheers to that.
Mix Packs are Anything but Garden Variety
2020’s mix-pack experiments are becoming 2021’s must-haves. With the increase of at-home imbibing, brands realized that people want to be able to capture that magic of discovery and variety, formally reserved for tasting rooms and beer bars, in their own living rooms, and often with one easy purchase. And so, they began to innovate. They mixed things up, literally. These are not your grocery-store samplers, or your average beer-for-casual-fans boxes. 2021 variety packs are exciting, a wild ride through picks you know you love and picks that will become new favorites.
We’d argue few know that better than yours truly. TapRm has had a blast with the mix-pack game and we only plan to keep surprising you with combos you just gotta have. Exhibit A: this entire page of options, with something for every kind of fan. You could make your life a whole lot easier, too, by signing up for our subscription service and getting mixes sent to your door on the regular. Other options include the Makku Variety Pack, featuring the original, mango, and blueberry iterations of Makku’s modern reinvention of Makgeolli, an unfiltered rice beer that’s Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage.
Beers are Getting Even Better with (Barrel) Age
As a sort of counter to 2021’s low-ABV rise, big and bold beers are becoming more luxurious, complex, and unique thanks to an elevated interest in barrel-aging. While a bourbon barrel-aged stout is still the OG indulgence and centerpiece of a good beer cellar, breweries are getting super creative with what styles of beer they barrel-age, what kind of barrels they use, and other flavors they add. Barrel-aged is becoming its own sort of sub-style, and we are here for it.
Don’t take our word for it. Try Goose Island Brewing Company’s Lolita, a rose-colored Belgian-style pale ale aged on raspberries in wine barrels; or Wicked Weed Funkatorium’s Medora, a 100% Brettanomyces-fermented wild ale aged on blackberries and raspberries for nine months in red wine barrels. Lotsa Heart is a golden sour ale from The Rare Barrel, aged in oak barrels with elephant heart plums. Moody Tongue Brewing Company has always demonstrated a mastery of combining the intricate flavors of barrel-aging and beer-brewing, just take the Scotch Barrel-Aged Peated Scotch Ale and the Bourbon Barrel-Aged 12 Layer Cake Imperial Stout.