As 2010 winds down, speculation season begins. What’s going to matter in 2011?

A friend of mine, one who is dedicated to all things beer, pointed out an interesting set of predictions from the National Restaurant Association. Every year they survey 1,500+ industry professionals regarding several hundred trends. For the past two years, one trend listed was gluten-free beer.

beerIt turns out that 58% of professionals surveyed thought this trend was a new one, and that 34% considered it “sooo five minutes ago”. Only 8% considered gluten-free beer a “perennial favorite.”

Now, gluten-free beer was on the trend list last year too: and the predictions were roughly identical. Fewer than 1 in 10 people surveyed thought the stuff was here to stay. While I’ll almost always choose whiskey or wine over beer, I know plenty of people for whom “giving up” beer was the hardest part of transitioning to a gluten-free diet. In fact, I’d wager that anyone who knows more than 2 people on gluten-free diets knows someone who was most saddened about beer.

Given how rapidly the number of diagnosed celiacs continues to rise, and how rapidly the gluten-free food market is growing (in the double-digits, which is huge), it’s shocking that there is so little confidence in the market for gluten-free beer – or in the ability of brewers to craft a tasty one.

So, in the interest of sticking my tongue out at the naysayers from the survey, I want to know: how often do you drink gluten-free beer? How often do you drink it at home vs. out in a bar or restaurant? What’s your favorite gluten-free beer – and if you don’t have one, what do you think brewers still need to figure out to craft one you’ll enjoy?

For some more information on gluten-free beer, you might want to check out our grocery guide or look at these links: