‘Season Creep’ Has Officially ArrivedIt’s getting worse, it’s getting ridiculous
August 31, 2017
By Jeff Gredlein | The Beer Snob
It was July 20 and Southern Tier’s Pumpking, the brewery’s monster fall seasonal Imperial release, a beer of 8.6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), rich, sweet flavors, and spicy, mouthfilling cold weather goodness, was already on shelves. Along with it, there sat Warlock, the Russian Imperial stout big brother, a pumpkin flavored monster of darkness. You know what … shame on you, Southern Tier.
Oh, and let’s be clear, it’s not only the Lakewood, NY brewery that’s doing it. Numerous craft brewers like Uinta, Weyerbacker, Shipyard, Saranac, Smuttynose, along with faux craft fakers like Shock Top and Blue Moon have their pumpkins out on full dirty display as well. Shame on all of you.
It’s called seasonal creep, the continual releasing of seasonal brews well before the time of year they’re generally best enjoyed and consumed. And despite the fact that this practice happens far ahead of all the seasonal transitions, it’s most pronounced and noticeable months before the end of summer. It’s almost a brewery-driven wishful thinking for the beginning of fall.
Of course, it’s partly about the money, I understand that. Few people, much less businesses, are able to do what they do without worrying about making the bucks to keep it all going. Brewing beer is, for most breweries, a business and about making cash. We’re just lucky that many of these gals and guys make cash by doing something that we enjoy so much. Still …
Essentially any mid-sized microbrewery with wide distribution is guilty of pushing out seasonal beers too early. Many of the traditional German breweries are following suit. It’s an epidemic. But I wonder if it’s now about getting ahead of the big boys and their fake craft beers?
Blue Moon Brewing Company, made by Coors, is often the first out with a seasonal brew. Given Coors’ large and wide distributions lines, this would not be hard to do: brew it early and push the hell out of a beer. Shock Tops awful ‘seasonal’ blends are usually next in line. So maybe it’s a case of keeping up with the big dogs?
Of course, there are other possible explanations. I’m not a businessman and I’m not a beer distributor, so I try to understand the brewer’s side of the situation. I’m sure that once the ‘event’ that a beer is brewed for is over, I suspect it’s harder to sell that particular seasonal beer. I’m almost certain that Märzens don’t sell well after October, and maybe pumpkin beers are harder to move after Thanksgiving, when all of the winter seasonals have already flooded the shelves at our beer and grocery stores. Yet, it starts earlier and earlier every year. Why?
One can imagine the mindset of keeping your products on the shelves, no matter if they fit the season completely or not, and keep your space among your competitors. Don’t lose that valuable shelf space.
And, it also may be that brewers want to move all of a certain product, and if they actually do sell out of a style of beer, they push the next seasonal, be it a bit early.
A couple weeks ago was IPA Day 2017, and I had several amazing varieties, perfectly suited for the balmy, mid August weather. Personally, I’m not ready for these beers, even if I’m ready for fall weather and pre-season football is on the TV. It’s still summer! Enjoy the brews … Cheers.
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