Beer blogger and all around good guy Ryan Anderson over at took a look back at the year in beer 2014. This inspired me to come up with some predictions for the year ahead of us—a year in which I expect to see even more breweries, some expansion projects, a possible law change, and a more consumer friendly growler system.

Prediction #1:

Sour and Barrel Aged beers become a trend. The Schell's Star of the North Series has really taken off and I think we will see others follow suit. Indeed is beginning a sour program and Surly continues to impress in this category with beers like Pentagram. This is sure to continue as the old Brooklyn Center site is open for experimentation with new brews.

Steel Toe, Surly, and Lift Bridge continue to impress with their Barrel Aged brews and something tells me that we have only broken the surface in this category. Another brewery big on barrels is Town Hall Brewery who dedicates an entire week every February to the style and just won a big medal at GABF for their Barrel Aged brew called Buffalo Bock. Space and time seem to be the main deterrents but with the rate of expansion around here I am willing to bet we will see more of these on shelves starting this year.

Prediction #2:

A year of brewery expansion. After winning an awards at both the World Beer Cup and GABF I would suspect that Steel Toe Brewing is going to need to expand sooner rather than later given the size of their taproom and the excellent beer they have been putting out. The secret is out that great beer is flowing out of St. Louis Park and the demand for their beer is higher than ever.

Bad Weather and Badger Hill both have new homes in 2015 which means that they will be producing more beer. Indeed took on an expansion project recently and will now be distributed in northern Minnesota and into North Dakota soon.

Prediction #3:

Sunday Sales will pass this year in some form or another. Whether there are provisions or not I think that something gets done in 2015 if people continue to call and email their leaders. Consumers have been polled at places such as the State Fair where over 64% of people think that we should be able to sell liquor on Sunday. After all it is 2015, not 1920.

Prediction #4:

Growlers filling will become easier as proper labeling picks up steam. You've probably seen the forum topic on Beer Advocate calling for breweries to fill any growler provided that they are clean. This seems to make sense assuming that there is a proper system in place that allows for legitimate sanitation and quality control. I've heard positive feedback on this issue from a few breweries who are looking to start filling any growler that meets these standards. Who wants 20 growlers taking up space in their basement anyways?

Prediction #5:

Beer education on the rise. With demand for better beer comes a more educated group of beer drinkers and a demand for proper knowledge. Better Beer University is put on by Robin Shellman and crew (watch for a future piece on him) for a meager $75 per semester and is worth every penny for those who are curious about beer. Demand for these classes will rise this year and to further prove this point Dakota County Technical College is going to be offering classes on the business side of the beer industry. Who says you can't major in beer?