Pumpkin beers have never been my thing. This really doesn’t mean a whole lot to the general public considering other things that I dislike that many enjoy include the NBA, BuzzFeed lists and Game of Thrones (ok I don’t dislike it but just haven’t watched it nor want to). So excuse me if I have never quite gotten the whole pumpkin beer craze that I have noticed in my near decade of being a craft beer fan.
Year after year fans of this fall seasonal drink up gallon after gallon of the spice forward brew and clamor for more. Each subsequent year breweries start bringing out their pumpkin beers earlier and earlier to meet this demand from the consumer. Last year we released our pumpkin beer at Due South, Isle of MaGourdo, on August 1st in order to get into displays at some of the bigger retailers. August 1st! For a pumpkin beer! The beer drinkers kept wanting the pumpkin beers earlier and the stores will do whatever they can to meet the demands of their customers. With that a lot of breweries comply in order to get prime spots in the stores. Which is why 2016 has come as a bit of a surprise
After years of increasing demand for pumpkin beers those same people seem to be revolting against the very beer they wanted so much of. Once again we met the deadline to get our beer in a prime spot in stores and so did many other breweries that produced pumpkin beers in package. But unlike previous years the beer drinkers don’t seem to want pumpkin beers. Whether this means that they don’t want it just yet or don’t want it at all is still yet to be seen but this has been a subject of conversation for the past few years.
Small pockets of beer geeks, brewers and dignitaries alike have been saying that the pumpkin beer push would die down eventually and it’s seeming like 2016 may just be the first year of said downturn. And it’s not just pumpkin beer that is victim to this. People are condemning pumpkin coffees, creamers, candles, ice cream and everything in between for coming out “too early” this year. To be serious there have been people saying this stuff for years but it seems like those people are getting louder or gaining in numbers.
If these people are fed up with how early pumpkin beers are coming out I think we may have a very interesting situation on our hands. Fall beers are far from the only seasonal brands that come out ridiculously early, it’s all of them. Spring beers come out in February, summer beers in April/May and so on. If people are finally getting tired of beer releases making them feel like their years are blowing by way too quickly we may finally get ourselves back to a more traditional release schedule for seasonal beers. I for one am for this.
However if the issue is that people are just sick of pumpkin beers in general a number of brewers, ours included, will have to seriously take a look at the market and see what will really be best for business. For most breweries in the fall you will see either a pumpkin beer or an Oktoberfest style lager. We have the rare distinction of doing both at our brewery but our pumpkin beer has far and away been the bigger seller in the fall. A matter of fact it is one our best selling seasonals we make. Each year we have brewed it we have made double the amount we did in the previous year and are pretty much sold out by the end of October. Will brewers start scaling back the amount of pumpkin beer that they make? Will they transition away from making them if their sales go down and opt for a different fall seasonal? I think by November a lot of breweries will have a good chunk of data to begin their attack for next year’s planning.
But really who knows? We may see that people will start chugging down copious amounts of pumpkin beers when the temperatures finally start going down and might catch things back up to the normal numbers. In the mean time this leaves some extra Oktoberfest for myself.