Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What is a Seasonal Beer?

If you follow any liquor store, package store, brewery, or other craft beer related retail location on Facebook or Twitter, you will have definitely seen posts indicating that "Fall Seasonal" beers are on their shelves. More specifically, pumpkin beer(s). Even more specifically, Shipyard Pumpkinhead seems to be the overwhelming majority of the posts (why it's such a big seller, I have no idea. It's not even made with real pumpkin, like other regional area breweries - which are far more enjoyable).

What ever happened to drinking a seasonal beer in the actual season it's meant to be enjoyed in? I mean, shit, it's July 25th - technically one month into summer (you know, it officially started June 21st), and these fall beers are already being launch. Hell, I haven't even picked up a SUMMER seasonal beer yet! Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of summer beers. I really enjoy Ipswich Ale Brewery Summer, not to mention the new Baxter Brewing Co. Celsius Ale. But I'm telling you, it's way too early to have pumpkin beers being launched.

This passed February, Chris Lohring, founder and brewer of Notch Brewing, posted a well documented, very eloquent post entitled "The Death of Seasonal Beers." He posted this from the perspective of the brewer, rather than the consumer, and it  couldn't have been said better. Truthfully, he is's not the retailers fault, after all, they're relying heavily on the distributor. However, a lot of this has to do with the consumer.

This is where we all come into play...what can we do as consumers?

Lohring says, "It's really quite simple. Stop buying beer out of season and stop encouraging the trend. You may start to see more beers that make sense in the season."

This makes sense. As a craft beer fan, it is hard to pick up a heavy, spiced beer, in the middle of 80 degree weather and actually enjoy it. These beers are better suited for cooler afternoons, and chilly evenings. Instead, we should be reaching for true seasonal beers that are utilizing local ingredients that are currently in season (barley, hops, certain added spices or fruits).

I didn't quite write this as well as Chris did, so please do us at Brew England, and Chris from Notch Brewing a favor and head over to to read his well articulated post.



Kristen said...

Great post. I read and loved Chris's post as well. When we met or the first time last year it was at the Wachusett Imperial Pumpkin launch in early August! Too soon. I cannot get myself to pick up a fall beer before September.

BrewEngland said...

Thanks Kristen! I remember our first hang and it being quite warm (and locking my keys in my car). It was also the first time I met Stacy Furtado. Nevertheless, 'seasonals' are coming out far too early these days. It's especially bad it killed the Notch BSA (which was a very tasty brew). How many more might be killed in the process, not just fall seasonals??