Pardon My Pumpkin Rant

Please bear with me. If you’re enjoying pumpkin beers now, disregard this post…

The releases are earlier and earlier every year. Pumking made its grand entrance into the Triangle in the middle of July. I repeat, Pumking arrived in Raleigh in the middle of July… a mere three weeks after the start of summer. Are you kidding me? Yes, Pumking, Warlock and other fall beers are delicious when the seasons turn and football comes around. I enjoy them like everyone else, but not when I’m getting ready for vacation, watching baseball, drinking session IPAs, and enjoying the dog days of summer.

As a marketer, I know it’s all a game. As the saying goes, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” It’s a rat race. And with more than 3,000 breweries in this country, you need to find a way to stand out. Money talks too. Southern Tier has seen its Pumking sales increase 50%-80% since the beer debuted. So why not distribute your seasonal three months early?

No matter how early the libations hit shelves, I can’t bring myself to drink a pumpkin beer in the summer. I prefer cool fall days, the NFL, falling leaves, and Halloween. July? No thanks, I’m on vacation. August? Still too early. September? That’s more reasonable. At least fall is around the corner.

While vacationing in Delaware last week, I made my annual stop at Dogfish Head. When walking through their mammoth new bottling plant, I saw cases upon cases of Punkin Ale ready for shipment. But the beer wasn’t heading to distributors, it was heading to quality control to make sure it was up to the brewery’s standards. Dogfish is adamant about releasing it’s Punkin Ale in September. They want each seasonal beer to enjoy its time in the sun. Festina Peche is their summer beer and they want to keep it that way. No need to cannibalize their own. Punkin will have its three month window. Now that’s something I can respect and appreciate. Dogfish takes its “off-centered” approach and distributes beer when it’s meant to be enjoyed.

So there’s my rant. You may agree with me. You may not. Either way, pumpkin beers are great. I just can’t stand seeing them on the shelves in July. I know winter beers aren’t too far behind…