I’m afraid ‘seasonal’ beers are becoming a lot like how the big-box stores treat the holidays, they start marketing 2-3 months before the holiday (or season). This is what is happening to the current Fall beers…the pumpkins and the Octoberfests. It’s mid August. It’s still hot. It’s still humid. And I see an Octoberfest on the shelf? Pumpkins aren’t even in season! I called both Szalay’s corn farm and Ramseyer Farms – no pumpkins until mid September. This means that given a 2 week brewing cycle minimum, these beers were made in July!
This also means that these pumpkins aren’t Ohio, or even northeast United States pumpkins…which is fine…but…when it is 80 and humid, the last thing I want to drink is an Octoberfest. I still want those lighter pilsners and wheat beers, those summer shandies, those pale ales. I want to finish enjoying summertime without worrying about fall and raking leaves. Temperature usually dictates what your palate wants to quench your thirst. I don’t even see the leaves turning color yet.
But am I being too nostalgic? Remember the old days where stores were closed on Sunday and advertising for Christmas came AFTER Thanksgiving? Let me enjoy Thanksgiving without thinking of the next holiday. In my best Daniel Tosh voice, “I enjoy seasons.”
It’s true, craft beer is on the rise. Just like any supply and demand, this current turbocharged growth will slow. The bigger ‘craft’ breweries (Sam Adams, Great Lakes) are starting to see their growth curve flatten a little…once this happens you start putting your seasonals out earlier, just like what the big-box stores do…anything to gain (or hold) a little bit of market share that the current new crop of micro’s and nano’s are biting at their feet.
At R.Shea Brewing, I want my seasonals to be special – to be in season, to try to use local ingredients in season. Sure, you may have to wait a little more to get a pumpkin or Octoberfest, but it’s going to be authentic, from the heart and just like beer needs to be served at the right temperature and in the right glass, it also needs to be served in the right season to really appreciate.
But that’s just me and I’m not saying I’m right. What do you say about the current crop of Fall seasonals when it’s clearly still summer? Am I just being too silly on this? ARE YOU EXCITED OR NOT TO SEE PUMPKINS AND OCTOBERFESTS ON THE SHELF?