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Tradition vs Progress in Brewing

Learn how innovative brewing technologies can help preserve beer history and traditions while giving breweries the flexibility to adapt to industry changes.

It’s important to remember that even the most “classic” beers were a reflection of the technologies and resources that were available at the time they were created. From the early labor-intensive days involving hauling buckets of grain, dumping, and then resetting the mill, to the addition of automation and novel flavor ingredients, both brewing and beer styles have evolved over time. 

So, while it may seem static, a big part of brewing traditions involves adapting. With that in mind, craft brewing shouldn’t feel like a departure from traditional methods. In reality, it’s simply a continuation of the practicality that the brewing industry has always been known for. At least, that’s how we feel about it.

Why is this conversation important? Because the beer industry is undergoing another series of evolutions. Brewing technologies, resources, and even beer consumers are changing. 

Discover what’s contributing to the paradigm shift and how embracing innovative technologies can give breweries the flexibility to adapt to industry changes.

The Brewing Paradigm Shift

Let’s get one thing out of the way. We’re not here to say that any brewing method is “wrong” or “right.” One of the great things about beer is that it tells a story. It can capture a region’s history and culture while creating connections that bridge generations. Each method and style is important… but some of these may disappear if brewers don’t adapt to changes.

Something that most brewers have always had to contend with in some capacity is changing consumer preferences. While there will always be purists who want classic styles, today, we’re seeing a rise in demand for NA beers, canned cocktails, better-for-you categories, etc. Ensuring that a business, not just breweries, can meet consumer demands is essential for survival.

Other changes, however, require more flexibility. For example, while some small craft breweries went out of business during the pandemic, others found opportunity. By connecting with their local communities as customer values shifted, breweries were able to offset their losses by leveraging direct sales via online fulfillment or by building taprooms.

But what about recent climate change, sustainability, or supply chain disruptions? These issues can’t necessarily be overcome with a new marketing strategy and will likely require changes to farming practices and brewing processes.

The industry has been battling efficiency and sustainability for years, and there was already a significant financial incentive to reduce energy usage. Now, however, climate change has made this endeavor non-negotiable. It’s not only made growing hops more difficult, but it’s also made the entire process significantly more expensive. 

Plus, both hop yield and alpha acid content are impacted by environmental changes. That means the aromatic compounds hop produces will be impacted by climate change. So, how do brewers honor and embrace their roots while adjusting to changes in the brewing landscape? 

How Brewing Innovations Can Future-Proof Breweries

While technological advancements in brewing methods may feel like a departure from tradition, they can help preserve and honor beer styles and flavors that may otherwise be at risk in the face of industry changes.

When it comes to shifting consumer preferences, botanically-derived terpene profiles offer solutions that can help breweries meet new flavor demands. Whether it’s Dank IPAs or fruit-forward hop profiles, brewers can have more control over flavor selection and consistency without relying on compounds from plant matter that may change due to environmental fluctuations. 

In addition to guaranteed flavor and aroma consistency, the Quantum Series hop extracts require less water during the brewing process, decrease the ingredient cost per barrel with no loss, 0.5 fl oz can supplement up to 1lb of T-90 pellets, they can increase speed to market of new hop-infused products, and more. 

When it comes to preserving classic hop aromas and flavors, the development of Optimized Hop Extracts essentially creates a “living record” of hop varietals. Abstrax cofounder and CEO Max Koby told Craft Brewing Business that “Not only will this living record provide convenience, but it also protects the industry against all odds if environment and market factors challenge the status quo of the brewing industry.”

At the end of the day, while brewing innovations can help create entirely new products and experiences, they can also help protect the brewing industry that we’ve known and loved for generations.

Abstrax Hops: Honoring Brewing Traditions Through Technological Innovations

As a technology company that produces aroma and flavor solutions, Abstrax Hops isn’t tied to any sense of tradition or beholden to any processes except to do the absolute best. And when we say “best,” that entirely depends on you. 

If your goal is to craft beers that honor classic hop varietals, then we’ll work with you to capture and recreate the best version of that aroma and flavor. Want to reduce your dependency on fresh hop materials? Offer cross-industry beverages that appeal to both beer and cannabis consumers? We’ve done the research and we’re always pushing the boundaries of technology so we can provide solutions that allow businesses to adapt and thrive during industry changes. 

Ross Hunsinger, our Director of Food and Beverage Innovation, put it best when he said, “We’re well aware of how things are changing, so we’re going to rise and meet those challenges.”

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