I don't expect hops' supremacy to wane anytime soon, but 2009 will be noted as the year breweries started to get funky. Breweries have messed around with Belgian yeasts in the past, but mostly the safer ones--abbeys, biere de garde, wit, strong goldens. This year, they went sour. Off hand, I can think of at least five examples:
- Cascade/Raccoon Lodge's range of funky beers
- BridgePort Stumptown Tart
- Double Mountain Devil's Kriek
- Deschutes Dissident
- Roots Flanders Red
My guess is that we won't see this evolve into a major trend. Sour beers are niche beers. Even the companies that make only sour beers are small by international standards. Lambics, so beloved, are obscure enough that most Americans won't even have heard of them much less seen or tried them. But there may well just be enough nuts like me to make it worthwhile for a few NW breweries to continue to experiment with this high-risk, low-reward genre.
(In any case, the trend was so well-established this year that it prompted me to make the Sour-o-meter, one of my favorite innovations of the year.)