Monday, September 3, 2012

Rant: Seasonal Beers, Out of Season

Once August strikes, it becomes difficult to purchase summer clothes as most of the displayed clothes are fall fashions. During the summer, you can also find winter offerings for sale, such as Christmas decorations. It almost seems that the seasons no longer count, that we are in a rush to travel through time. This seasonal disconnect applies to seasonal beers and ciders as well.

In August, there was a deluge of seasonal fall beers released, including lots of pumpkin beers. By the time October arrives, just when the fall season is beginning, it will become difficult to find these seasonal beers. It is almost as if you need to stock up on fall beers during the summer so that you are ensured of having some during the autumn months. By the time October begins, the seasonal winter beers will probably start making their appearance. Why is there such a rush to release seasonal beers before the actual season arrives?

Most of these seasonal beers and hard ciders are in limited supply. So there is a good chance those items, since they are sold so early, won't be available during much of the proper season. I have sought certain seasonal ciders before, only to be told they were no longer available, despite the fact it was early in the requisite season. Very frustrating. 

Strangely enough, these seasonal beers sell very well out of season. At Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet, where I work, we have been going through plenty of pumpkin and other fall beers. It puzzles me. Do people really want to drink pumpkin beers during the summer? Or are they saving them for the fall? Can't we just enjoy the season we are in or are we all in a rush to jump into the next season? I always thought people sought an "endless summer" rather than a truncated summer.

I suspect these same seasonal beers would sell equally as well during the appropriate season so why do producers see a need to release them so early? What is the impetus? It is still summer and I don't want it to end until it is truly over. When the cool autumn weather passes through, then I will want pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks. Am I the only person who feels this way?


David said...

I totally agree with this one! I'm not a big fan of pumpkin ale any time...but I love summer ales (in summer) so frustrating to see them pushed off the shelf in August.

Jason Phelps said...

You aren't the only one that feels this way. The beer bloggers buzz about this every year. This years several local brands (Sam, Shipyard) released even earlier and everybody noticed. But that shipped sailed away fast.

Sort of the non-issue. The conversation about it lasted about a week to two weeks and then trailed off. The early release is motivated by the need to get the increasing size of seasonal inventory out of the warehouse and into somebody else's space, hoping to see it all move so it doesn't have to come back because nobody wants it. The cult releases can come out at any time and they are going to sell out, but those are more likely to arrive on time because the brewery doesn't have the capacity to brew them any earlier.

All but the smallest volume seasonal beers aren't targeted at the craft beer loving scene where I see the most two way passion for beer. The ones craft lovers look for are small production, the truly new or one time product or those on tap only. The rest are marketing oriented for the general public to drink with the season.