Craft Beer Predictions For 2021

I thought it might be fun to make some craft beer predictions for 2021. It’d be great if people shared their thoughts too…so, please feel free to comment below.

I have been brewing for 25 years, feeling lucky to do a job I genuinely love. I still get a kick out of brewing beer although cleaning out the mash tun has gotten old. But it helps keep my beer belly under control!

My first job was brewing a German style pilsner, in what was UK’s only lager craft brewery at the time. That’s where my predictions begin lager…

#1 – Craft Beer Predictions of 2021 – Lager to Get More Draught Lines

Yes, I know lager is still the most brewed style in the world, in craft it’s not brewed so much. For a number of reasons.

A couple being, the tank space they take up when brewed AND IPA’s still pay the bills for many breweries. Lager comes from the German word “to store”.

Craft Beer Predictions For 2021

Traditionally lagers would be matured for 4 weeks before being packaged and sold. This allowed the beer to become well-rounded and more drinkable. Meaning a lager beer might be in tank for 6 weeks before its’s ready when you include fermentation time.

Other beers such as ales take less time. Usually, 2-3 weeks from brew day to when it can be packaged. Beers spending longer in tank cost more money to produce.

So why do I see lager making a comeback?

Well, Covid-19…

Many breweries have seen less sales thus freeing up tank space. With less throughput brewers have the time and tank space to make lagers. They’ve time to wait 4-8 weeks for maturation.

Many brewers love a good lager. A little secret, Pilsners are my “first love”, as it’s the beer I learnt to brew first. Brewers are making lager in craft breweries when before it wasn’t possible.

I think if enough people try lager, demand will increase…because a good lager makes a great drinking. If demand is there then tank space will be found.

This might be wishful thinking by me…. but I can only hope!

#2 – Craft Beer Predictions of 2021 – Non-Alcoholic (NA) Beer to Grow

When it comes to brewing; brewers have to react to the market. Sometimes brewers make beers they aren’t too fond of themselves

I’m not a wheat beer fan; but in China, Hefeweizen crushes most beers when it comes to sales. In some craft breweries Hefe makes up 50% of all beer sales.

The non-alcoholic beer market continues to grow year on year…

“The global non-alcoholic beer market is expected to grow at a strong rate of 7.6% in the foreseeable future. By 2026, global sales are expected to exceed a valuation of USD 25.6 billion.”

Non-Alcoholic Beer Market Worth 2016-2024
Non-Alcoholic Beer Market Value in Billions (US Dollars) – From Statista

For now, most people reach for macro’s beers when it comes NA beers. In China for example Asahi Dry Zero is the market leader. However, I see more and more craft brewers discussing how to make NA beers.

NA Beers Are Hard to Make

Making non-alcoholic beers is harder than “normal” beer, as the chances of infection are increased. However, as consumers become increasingly aware of the health risks associated with alcohol and the market continues to grow.

Craft brewers can’t ignore the trend, and you’ll see more craft breweries worldwide offer non-alcoholic brews.

Craft Beer Predictions

#3 Craft Beer Predictions of 2021 – Asia Will Produce a New Style of Beer

In another article I spoke about Catharina Sours, a beer style out of Brazil. It’s like a stronger Berliner Weisse with a fresh fruit addition after primary fermentation. I see a new style coming out of Asia.

There are a lot of different ingredients available all over Asia. So, a new beer style might come out from an ingredient who knows. But, where will this new style come from?

My bet would be either Korea, China or Thailand…

Korean beers do well at Asian beer competitions and have won some international awards too. There’s even one brewery in Korea that concentrates on brewing sour/brett beers called Wild Waves.

So, it is safe to say, the Korean craft beer market is more “evolved” than most others in Asia. So, ripe for evolution and a new beer style to be born.

Otherwise, China, has one of the stronger craft beer scenes in Asia built on the back of many expats who set up brewpubs in China back in the day. Local craft brewing knowledge increases all the time so, at any point a local Chinese brewer could invent a new beer style.

Innovation could come from a local ingredient, like a grain that isn’t barley or something else…but the prospect is an exciting one.

Now Thailand is an interesting one…

Did you know Thai made craft beer sold in the country isn’t made there (mostly) due local laws? So, the beer is brewed in Cambodia, Australia, Vietnam and elsewhere. It makes Thai craft beer expensive as there’s import duty to be paid.

Craft Brewing Predictions For 2021 - Asia

As a brewer, this situation sucks but…however, Thai brewers persevere and make it work.

Brewing under duress like this; making it work, might be the situation that creates a new style…we shall see.


So, ends my craft beer predictions for 2021. I admit it was fun to do, will any of my prediction prove right? I think non-alcoholic beer is a no-brainer, craft brewers will have to follow the trend. Although, I see it being the “bigger” craft breweries.

I don’t see too many brewpubs making NA beer. For most the extra work and care might not be worth the pay-off, or risks for dumped infected beer involved.

As for the other two predictions, I think they’re what I hope for, rather than predictions. I love lager AND I want to see the Asian craft beer scene keep moving forward gaining more international attention.

Gweilo Brewing out of Hong Kong have a long-term collaboration with Vacation brewery in the UK. I see this being the first of several such arrangement we’ll see moving into 2021.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts….

What are your predictions for craft in 2021? Please share your thoughts below 🙂

Thanks for reading my article…I wish you a happy new year, and hope 2021 is less crazy than one we are now saying bye to!



Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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