Well, we did it, friends! We did 2022. Phew. Another weird year, right? We’re still in a pandemic, but also learning to be back out in the world and live in these times--safe to say 2022 was a lot, good and bad, and we’re pretty excited for the fresh start that a new year promises. 2023, you see, stands to be a pretty exciting year, if you ask us. For example, many of us are really fired up about sustainability and what we can do to be actively participating in fighting climate change and making this world better and safer. Ditto that for diversity, equity, and inclusivity. And even if you look to smaller, fun-focused matters like adult beverages, we’re seeing trends that emphasize creativity, variety, innovation, inclusivity, accessibility, approachability--we truly can’t wait to keep seeing what brewers and brands come up with and how they bring incredible flavors to life. We’re getting new beer styles, new drink styles all together, incredible leaps forward in non-alcoholic beers and cocktails…truly, what a time to be alive!
So, to mark this new year, and this step into a new 12 months on the calendar that we can’t wait to see unfold, we wanted to make some resolutions. These aren’t so much your traditional resolutions, as those can honestly cause more stress than any of their good qualities, creating pressure and turning out to be unrealistic or even a not-so-great fit for our real lives. But we love the spirit behind resolutions, and we wanted to channel that to head into 2023 with some goals, attitudes, themes, and things to look forward to. We thought this would be a fun kick-off, and might inspire you to make your own pseudo-resolutions that are more focused on the life you want to live, the person you want to be, the causes you want to work with, the delicious things you want to drink--or maybe, you’ll simply join us on these below!
1. Committing to sustainability.
When we asked some of our favorite brands about what 2023 will mean to them, 101 Cider House responded with, “Commitments to sustainability and climate positivity.” We couldn’t agree more, and felt inspired by their prioritizing this mission. The brand is already on the right track, having built itself on cider made from raw juice, using fresh source-verified ingredients and partnerships with local farms. They work with an organization called tentree on reforestation efforts and have a positive climate commitment you can check out here.
We’re proud of the work many other brands are already doing, too, and the eco-friendly ways they’re making delicious beverages. Ditto, for example, makes a piquette spritz from the grape must vineyards have left after making wine--it’s a sustainable spritz, made from upcycled grapes, so there is no need for systems to cultivate new ingredients. Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery was born from a mission to help protect land in Virginia. The brewery grows a lot of its own ingredients and locally sources others from nearby farms, and concentrates on clean water, both in its own space and working to bring clean drinking water to regions in need around the world. Ross Brewing Co. also partners with different organizations to clean water, both drinking water and fresh saltwater. One notable example is their work with the American Littoral Society; in addition to events, fundraising, clean-ups, etc., Ross brews an oyster stout and an oyster gose to raise money and awareness for their oyster bed restoration program. New Belgium, too, is nothing short of an industry leader in this field. They’re a certified B corp, which recognizes their continuous dedication to sustainable methods, education, and active hand in making an impact locally and globally. New Belgium works with initiatives from clean water to solar power to recycling to clean energy and climate policy.
So many more brands and breweries we partner with do incredible, inspiring work for the environment, setting an example for the rest of the beverage industry and beyond. It reminds us for 2023 to support these brands, follow their lead and volunteer, raise awareness, and contribute funds to impactful causes, and think everyday about what we can personally be doing in our own lives.
2. Learning more about beer to help us enjoy more variety, more often.
“Let's try and teach our consumers that day-fresh beer isn't always the best,” Dimitri Yogaratnam, CEO of Oslo Brewing Company, says. “Beer is live, it develops--and sometimes in miraculous way--over months and years of aging...and yes, that means IPAs too.” Indeed, this is a great example of how nothing, including in beer, is ever black and white. Some beer styles, like lagers, are best fresh. Others, like stouts and farmhouse ales, evolve and change over time, developing different flavors and aromas. It’s a beautiful and complex trajectory that’s so worthwhile to enjoy for a beer fan--experiencing the characteristics of a stout after a week, a month, a few months, a year, what a ride.
On one hand, and from a bird’s-eye view, good beer is good beer, and there’s certainly no need to become a scholar to enjoy it. But, there’s such a vast and fascinating world of beer knowledge to dive into, and every little nugget of information you learn lends itself to a deeper appreciation and better enjoyment. Like, understanding that more often than not, fruit flavors come from hops’ essential oils and yeast’s byproducts from fermentation rather than actual fruit itself? That’s some downright magical sciencey-science. Knowing what beers to age and which to consume fresh? Or, that you can enjoy beer however you want, but some specific glassware for some specific styles can only further elevate the whole experience? 2023 is a great time to decide to geek out on some truly interesting stuff that will make beer taste even better than ever.
3. Getting to know more brands to give ourselves that many more options--that can mean incredible craft beverages on a budget!
“We want to see Outlaw Mile Hi Light grow to a national brand in 2023,” says Tivoli Brewing Company director of national accounts Eric Barnes, adding that Tivoli is aiming to be in 20 states by the end of 2023. “With the beer industry, I think we're seeing a shift in consumers and their pockets. They want more affordable brands, but with a great taste, which is what Outlaw Mile Hi Light is for!”
2023 is definitely going to be a time in which most of us are thinking a lot about our hard-earned dollars, what we spend them on, what is true value, what brands are spending their dollars on. Inflation and supply chain issues driving up ingredient and packaging costs mean that some brands and breweries have no choice but to raise prices, but what that more translates to for drinkers is developing an understanding of what we’re paying for. If we do have that disposable income for craft beverages, we want to know what the best beverage is, from taste to mouthfeel to buzz to refreshing factor to the quality of ingredients to diet restrictions considered to sustainability and social issues prioritized by the brand. 2023 is absolutely going to be a year of researched purchases and thoughtful buying decisions. And, as Eric points out, this also means there are plenty of affordable craft brands to get to know if you haven’t yet. Outlaw Mile Hi Light proves you can get that crushable light lager from a brand committed to quality and craft, without breaking the bank.
4. Spreading the word about “craft,” quality, and diverse and unique ingredients.
“I would like to strengthen our internal team relationships as well as our relationships with all our distributors next year,” says Jeremy Kim, CEO of 하드Nectar Hard Seltzer of 2023. “Turn all skeptics into deep believers.” That last part, especially, really resonates with us. It’s kind of a natural extension of learning more about beer and beverages to enjoy them more, and of researching brands to make the best buying decisions possible: to really understand what “craft” is, and to spread the word about it.
Brands have been merging and growing and evolving over the last couple years, and that doesn’t stand to stop or slow down in 2023, and so the old definitions of “craft” in terms of how small or independent some brands are don’t necessarily apply. But there are ways to look at “craft” that better help us understand why a beverage is special or what went into it. Natural ingredients, ones that have been locally sourced through partnerships. Spotlighting unique ingredients and creative inspirations, and putting flavors from different cultures front and center, like Nectar’s craft hard seltzers that sing with real Asian fruits. Growing your own ingredients. Embracing brewing traditions. Leaning into innovation. Nodding to trends, but also introducing new styles, substyles, methods, ingredients, and flavors. Inclusivity, from a brand’s hiring practices and workplace systems to how it markets to the flavors and styles it celebrates. All of these intentional and meaningful steps and decisions are what have come to mean “craft,” and that’s something we want to keep front of mind in 2023.
5. Engaging with and supporting diverse brands while working to push for inclusivity and equity in beer and beverage.
We think the most exciting changes in beer and beverage are the pushes forward in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’re thrilled to see more brands helmed by people from groups underrepresented in this industry for far too long, and proud to partner with incredible women-, BIPOC-, AAPI-, and LGBTQIA+ -owned brands (find a round-up of beverages from these brands here!). And we’re inspired to see people in beer and beverage working tirelessly every day to make the industry safe for all, to make products and the craft experience accessible for all, to increase visibility and representation, to make spaces inclusive, to make practices equitable. They are embracing the community spirit that has fueled craft beer for so long and using it to galvanize the people in the industry as well as consumers to work together behind these causes, to spread awareness, to donate to related organizations and initiatives, and to support diverse brands.For example, Ash Eliot’s platform Women of the Bevolution provides community, resources, networking, and job opportunities to women, female-identifying people, and non-binary people, and the collaboration and initiative she co-founded with Brienne Allan, Brave Noise, advocates for a safe and discrimination-free industry. The Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling, The Lovibond Project, and Beer Kulture all work to bring Black people and people of color into the beverage industry, removing barriers of entry and facilitating access and opportunity through internships, scholarships, education, and more. Infinite Ingredient is launching to support mental health in the beverage industry with education, outreach, and access to resources. These are just a few of the initiatives we look forward to seeing in action in 2023, and they’re a great place to start for your support.