Technology is advancing so rapidly these days that Moore’s law almost seems TOO slow. Today, you can hold a super-computer in the palm of your hand and connect to a seemingly limitless wealth of information through the Cloud. We’re digitizing the libraries of the world. We’re growing working human organs in Petri dishes. We’ve finally solved the “when is my beer cold enough?” conundrum. In short, humans be winning.
So I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when I was sitting at my local watering hole the other day and noticed a strangely familiar looking gentleman staring back at me. The stubbly chin. The slightly deranged glare. The condescending smirk. It was none other than my future self. He was a bit balder and gaunter, with some crow’s feet and a bar code on the back of his neck, but there was no doubt I was staring at my days to come. He bought me a round and sat down in the stool next to me. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Present Brother Barley: Wow! Future me! Have you come back to warn me of something? Is it about my kids? Does something have to be done about my kids?!?!
Future Brother Barley: What? No. Your kids are fine. Look…time travel is cheap and easy in 2031 and I just wanted to swing down here and grab a Terrapin Wake ‘n’ Bake before they were discontinued.
PBB: They discontinued the Wake ‘n’ Bake?! Oh, the humanity! Truly the future is a dystopic nightmare of unspeakable horrors!
FBB: Settle down. Everything’s cool. I drive a solar-powered car and just bought an iPhone 42. It’s implanted in my brain so I have the entire digitized history of human achievement available to me at…
PBB: I really don’t care even a little. All I want to know is…what is the state of the Craft Beer Revolution?
FBB: Of course. I forgot that in 2011 the only thing you cared about was beer.
PBB: Has that changed?!?!
FBB: Dramatically. Now you like mead too.
PBB: Weird. You were saying about the Craft Beer Revolution?
FBB: The Revolution is over and dead in 2031, my non-cyborg version of myself. The Big Four “won”.
PBB: The Big Four?
FBB: SASHA Brewing (Sam Adams Shipyard Harpoon Allagash) dominates New England. 3BGB (3 Floyds Bells New Glarus Boulevard) rules the Midwest with an iron fist. ASS Brewing absolutely owns California.
PBB: ASS Brewing?
FBB: Anchor Sierra Stone. Their marketing people told them to change their name to ASS and have a logo of a women’s naked posterior. It worked. They’re the biggest brewery in the US right now. And their commercials are awesome! As for the rest of the country, it falls under the aegis of the BOSTON BEER COMPANY.
PBB: Wait…what? I thought you said Sam Adams was part of SASHA?
FBB: It’s not what you think. BOSTON BEER COMPANY stands for Boulder Odell Sweetwater Terrapin Oskar New Belgium East End Rogue Cigar O’Fallon Matt Pabst Abita Ninkasi Yuengling.
PBB: Oh. Well that’s just confusing.
FBB: I know. It was even more confusing when it was all happening. Companies kept rising and falling. Lawsuits over trademark rights sprung up every day. It got very vicious and very heated. Craft beer fans started forming militias armed with broken weizen glasses and sharpened bottle openers. Extremophiles openly battled Sessionistas in the streets. Aleheads and Lagerheads started gangs which led to mass genocide.
PBB: Where was Big Beer in all this?
FBB: At first, they were delighted. They thought the negative publicity from all the bloodshed would lead to the downfall of craft beer. But, as is always the case in America, any PR is good PR. The news started covering the riots and murders and craft beer became the hottest thing in the country. No one wanted to drink Bud, Miller, or Coors anymore. Why bother consuming beers that weren’t worth killing over? It got so bad for Big Beer that InBev, SABMiller, and MolsonCoors completely abandoned the American market and divided up the rest of the world. InBev took Europe and South America. SAB got Africa and Australia. And MolsonCoors somehow landed all of Asia.
PBB: Please tell me the MolsonCoors move to Asia killed Blue Moon once and for all.
FBB: Nope. It’s more popular than ever. But now it’s served with a stalk of lemongrass instead of an orange wedge.
PBB: Of course it is. This is all amazing stuff! But are you telling me there aren’t any American breweries other than the Big Four?
FBB: No! Not at all! There are literally tens of thousands of breweries in America. But other than the Big Four, the rest are all Zeptobreweries.
FBB: Even smaller than Nanobreweries. They’re basically just vans filled with brewing equipment, a bearded guy, and a tap. They drive around like ice cream trucks, dispensing wisdom and suds. Most Zeptobrewers are considered more like “philosopher-poets” than businessmen these days. They make very little money…some just give their beer away for free.
PBB: Why do they need to be mobile?
FBB: The Big Four bought up every possible beer name in those early, violent years. Larry Bell himself owns the trademark to the letter “B” so it can’t be used in any other beer name. If a small-time brewer even “thinks” of naming his beer something, he’ll receive a Cease & Desist letter within 24 hours. The easiest solution was to not have a permanent address so the C&D could never reach you. The first Zeptobrewers were easy to spot since they had a convoy of lawyers following them at all times.
PBB: Wow. Truly you live in a brave, new world. What other trends are happening in the beer industry in 2031?
FBB: Oh my…things have changed. There are now over 2,780,000 styles of beer.
FBB: Extremophiles began breaking down the hue of beer into over 10,000 different categories. Each hop varietal became a separate style unto itself. There are over 75 different “Simcoe Southeast Florida 6.2% ABV Ecru Pale Ales” right now based on mouthfeel alone.
PBB: Damn. Is Barrel-Aging still big?
FBB: Ah, how young and innocent you are. Barrel-Aging is laughably outdated now. Beers today are aged in caves, hollow trees, pregnant women’s wombs, and in temporarily-formed black holes. 3BGB’s Black Hole Hefe is absolutely delicious, but it’s a little heavy. It also has the unfortunate side effect of collapsing the drinker into a singularity.
PBB: Good lord…what else, Future Barley?
FBB: The wild yeast trend went completely out of control. Now the yeasts used in brewing are so wild that they sometimes leap out of the bottle and attack you while you’re drinking them. And the new hop strains…
PBB: New strains?
FBB: Professor pH Lager started a secret government group called the “Escondido Project”. While working there, he developed a hop varietal so high in Alpha Acids that it burned a hole into the center of the Earth. Eventually, they were able to harvest enough of it to produce an Imperial IPA bottled in an unobtanium-lined vessel (which was then stuffed into a dead squirrel as has been fashionable since the End of History first came to light).
PBB: Cool! Nice job, Professor!
FBB: Yes. Except that he was so proud of himself, he drank the entire bottle. The 50 million IBUs of bitterness made him implode like a supernova. All that was left of him were his glasses and a slide rule.
PBB: Ouch. Dare I ask what happened to the rest of the Aleheads?
FBB: It’s mostly tragic. The Aleheads did not fare well in the post-Craft world. Slouch, ever the slave to the newest trend, abandoned craft beer a few years back when it became clear that hard lemonade was the next big thing. He started a wildly popular site called lemonheads.com, but was shot and killed by a crazed Evan Dando-fan.
PBB: Nice to see you haven’t lost your ability to make obscure 90’s music references. I assume Slouch was killed by some sort of sweet future-y weapon like a plasma rifle?
FBB: No, it was a Nerf crossbow. Slouch was always fragile.
PBB: And the others?
FBB: Doc was raptured, along with the other “pure of heart” craft beer enthusiasts when the Craft Revolution peaked in 2022. He sent me a Tweet from heaven a few years ago (heaven got wireless access in 2025). He, Magnus, and Michael Jackson (the British one) were drinking Westy in a Cloud-Pub and debating whether or not Brewdog was the gimmickiest ale factory ever.
PBB: So that argument was never really resolved?
FBB: There was quite a battle between Brewdog and Dogfish Head for the title. First Brewdog created a 100% ABV beer called “I’m Blind!” which seemingly won the battle. But then Dogfish Head created a beer fermented from the powdered residue of Jesus’s bones (they were discovered in Christopher Hitchens’s basement in 2017). Everyone assumed the “Second Coming Saison” would win the coveted “Gimmickiest Beer Award”, but Brewdog won the prize back when they brutally murdered Sam Calagione and stuffed a magnum of dark German lager into his corpse. The “bottle” of “Dead Sam Dunkel” was sold for a then-record $473,000.
PBB: Shocking stuff. I assume the Baron is still sitting in his same chair, at the same law-firm, doing the exact same thing?
FBB: Yes, of course. Although, the partners at his firm did buy him gold leg-irons after his 10th year of indentured servitude.
PBB: That’s something, I suppose. The rest of the guys?
FBB: Let’s see…Herr Hordeum was eaten by chinchillas while conducting research in Peru. The Czar was murdered by his assistant Karl after an evening that Karl refuses to discuss. He’s in prison for life in St. Petersburg but he has said on numerous occasions that it was “totally worth it”. Lord Copperpot and the Commander are in a loving, stable relationship and own and operate a Bed & Breakfast and maple syrup grove in Brattleboro, VT. Beerford is a homeless drifter and can often be seen wandering around the streets of Portland in a ratty robe with a bomber of CDA in his hand. He calls himself the “King of the Pigeons”, but honestly they don’t really like him either.
PBB: And Carboy?
FBB: You mean, President Carboy?
PBB: Kid Carboy is the President?!?!
FBB: Ha! No. He’s super dead. He was killed in the great Kalamazoo Kalamity of 2019. Larry Bell himself decapitated him.
PBB: Goddamn, Larry Bell.
FBB: Oh no. It was well-deserved. Carboy was throwing Molotov cocktails through the 3BGB Brewery’s windows and screaming, “Give us back our “B”s!!!”
PBB: He was always a bit of a hot-head.
FBB: Indeed. Well, I’ve finished my Wake ‘n’ Bake. Time to get back to the Editor’s desk at Aleheads.
PBB: Editor’s desk?!?! Aleheads is still going!
FBB: Of course! After print made its comeback in 2027, Aleheads became the most widely-read print publication in the US. We have over 57 subscribers!
PBB: Awesome! We’re famous! Thanks for letting me know what to expect in the beer world over the next couple of decades Future Me.
FBB: Don’t mention it! Enjoy the present. It truly is a Golden Age for craft beer. Don’t take it for granted!
PBB: Wait! Before you go…did I ever get a chance to try the Portsmouth Kate the Great?!?!
But he had already stepped through the orange portal. It’s probably for the best I didn’t know the answer to that question. Everyone needs surprises in their life.