BRUSSELS • A ‘smart’ bottle opener, weak and alcohol-free ales and lagers and cannabis brews — all visions of the future of beer offered at a brewing convention in Brussels this week.
More than 700 brewers and beer experts, from small microbrewers to megabrew executives, converged in Belgium, for many the home of beer, to debate hot topics in the $600 billion sector — including how to win drinkers back from wine and spirits.
Sessions on beer and food pairings sought to show how ales or lagers could challenge the dominance of wine during meals.
Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has set increasing beer’s share of the overall drinks market as a top priority this year. Carlos Brito, its chief executive, told fellow brewers the sector should target mealtimes and women as areas of future growth. A-B InBev’s U.S. headquarters is in St. Louis.
Consumers should expect an even wider variety of products, particularly higher-priced “premium” beers.
“Premiumization has arrived in, for example, confectionery. Look at chocolate. We have a long path ahead of us,” Brito said.
Cees ’t Hart, the head of Carlsberg, called wine and tea “the enemy” and said brewers had identified a gap between beer and soft