Having offered his predictions last week for the wider alcohol category, Euromonitor's senior alcoholic drinks analyst, Spiros Malandrakis, drills down into what the year ahead has in mind for the beer sector.

  • Microbrewing - From high hops to turf war

In mature western markets, with local authorities currently funding craft projects as lavish centrepieces of their ambitious urban gentrification initiatives, private equity ultimately pushing for returns on their once-'angelic' investments and major retailers adding their own fantasy brands to already overflowing aisles, the sense of irrational exuberance is palpable.

As tongue-in-cheek, controversial or post-ironic brand names dry out faster than a shipment of cascade hops back in 2015, once-noble competition will turn to fierce antagonism. The continued march of canned offerings, a renewed emphasis on brewpubs and taprooms, a shift to more sessionable segments and away from the ubiquity of IPAs will be the weapons of choice for the upcoming battle to gain a foothold on a national level and beyond respective localities. The race towards the middle ground will define the next chapter in microbreweing's evolution while inevitably leaving casualties on the side-lines.

On the other hand, the micro-trend is still in its infancy in emerging markets, where it has not yet been tainted by commoditisation and the metropolitan centres of China, India and Brazil will fully embrace hyper-local alternatives - all the while providing the potential for the cross-pollination of styles, brewing techniques and ingredients.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's battle to save craft beer from the tyranny of choice - Click here for a just-drinks comment

  • Homebrewing - The next frontier

With table-top devices democratising the home-brewing process, and macro-brewers incorporating the segment in their strategic plans for vertical integration, 'nano' and 'home' have the potential to become the new micro. Connectivity, customisation, affordability and an open architecture will be key for home-brewing appliances to cross into the mainstream. 

Collaborations and support by as wide a range of brewers as possible, flexibility in ingredients and synergies allowing for experimentation and personalisation will be the deciding factors in unlocking the segment's full, untapped potential.

  • Imports - Another brick in the wall?

As nationalistic undercurrents reshape the political discourse across the globe, alliances are broken or reassessed and trade barriers, walls and punitive taxation initiatives are rearing their heads – imports are on the firing line.

Historically providing a much-needed shot in the arm for mature or saturated markets beyond the much-vaunted micro segment, imports could prove to be among the victims of the confrontational rhetoric and growing distrust towards the offerings of globalisation monopolising the public sphere in their respective markets.

How are mid-sized brewers coping with the consolidation squeeze? - Click here for a just-drinks comment