Summer picnics featuring pumpkin ale?

Print This Page

First Posted: 4/28/2015

Taking a look at the shelves or tap systems at your favorite craft beer bar, it would be easy to forget that, on some nights, the temperature is till teetering toward freezing. That is because many breweries have begun releasing summer seasonal beers already.

This trend toward earlier release dates seems to grow more and more each year for many seasonal brews. What were once considered summer seasonals we would expect to see in May, we now see released as early as March, with spring seasonals hitting shelves as early as January.

The most noticeable early release was last year’s July launch of many drinkers’ favorite pumpkin beers. The idea of drinking pumpkin beer on a humid 90 degree day did not seem so appealing to many craft beer drinkers despite the loyal following behind many pumpkin beers.

Regardless, brewers still seem to be pushing forward with early releases. There will most likely be less push back from an early summer release, though, as most do not contain seasonal ingredients such as pumpkins. Is it necessary, though?

First, the reason for these earlier releases should be examined and understood. Many breweries have seasonals that are highly sought after and are big sellers — a.k.a. money makers — for the brewery. So, the breweries have incentive to make as much profit as possible from these beers.

However, there is a bigger reason breweries are on the push to get seasonal beers to market faster, the main reason being that there is a desire to be first to market with many of these seasonal beers.

While some consumers may complain about beers being available far ahead of the intended season, the beer is still on the shelf for those who wish to try it. Although some craft beer purists are angered at the thought of pumpkin beers being available in July, there are others who welcome this sight. If someone desires a pumpkin beer at this time of year and there is only one available on shelves, then hat is where these consumers will turn first.

The seasonal beer release, while it can be a very profitable one, it is just that: seasonal. The breweries have a very strong desire to make as much as possible from seasonal beer sales while they can and sometimes that means extending the intended season.

Many breweries have Christmas-themed seasonal beers and, just like much of the candy out there, there is an unspoken and immediate expiration date that many consumers have in the back of their minds regarding these beers. Brewers know this and need to make as much as they can in the short window of opportunity.

It should be noted, though, there are many breweries that have a strong adherence to specific release dates for their seasonal beers with no desire to change. This is mainly due to the size of breweries and the max capacity that they are at with their brewing schedule. It is just not possible for them to change their brewing schedule. There are some, though, that make the choice to stick to specific release dates for seasonal beers.

Now that the problem has been identified, is there a solution? If you’re a craft beer purist and do not like seeing seasonals available so early, don’t jump on the internet to complain, instead don’t buy their beer so early.

If you do not want to see summer beers available in March, then don’t buy them. Breweries will get the message and pull back. However, if this does not bother you, then proceed as planned and enjoy your beers any time.

Wherever you fall on this argument, it is important to remember one thing: beer is beer and it is meant to be enjoyed no matter what the season. Sometimes it is better to just relax and have a beer out of season. A summer beer sounds pretty good right now, especially after the terrible winter we all suffered through — even if it’s just wishful thinking!