They started piling up in my inbox in early August. Press releases, new ones coming in every day, heralding the debut of a new pumpkin porter here and a returning pumpkin ale there. EARLY AUGUST. The beaches were still packed with tourists, it was about a hundred thousand degrees outside, and kids hadn’t even returned to school. And yet, the deluge of pumpkin seasonals had begun.
This is the craft beer equivalent of getting Christmas discount fliers in September. It’s not ok. And so I feel it necessary to issue a request to the craft beer community: Can we cool it a bit on pumpkin beer?
I don’t hate pumpkin beer—one of my favorite releases of 2014 was a Dark Pumpkin Sour—but I stand by my request. Here’s why:
When every brewery feels the need to issue a pumpkin seasonal, it creates something of an arms race. How do you distinguish your seasonal beer from the hundreds of other pumpkin beers on the market? You release it first. Which means that by 2019—according to very rough, very unscientific calculations—we’ll see pumpkin beer released in February. That is a future in which the “seasonal” designation has been rendered meaningless.
And “seasonal” matters. The entire reason people reach for a pumpkin ale is because it reminds them of autumn. Apple picking. Corn mazes. Bonfires and hoodies. The blazing leaves of autumn maples. If a pumpkin beer no longer carries those same associations (because it hits the shelf during the height of summer), then very few will opt to drink it.
This is in everyone’s best interest. Don’t kill your market by jumping the gun. Keep the special in special release. Make 2015 the year that we said enough is enough. Future pumpkin beer drinkers will thank you.