|Too early for a beer by the fire?|
Image credit: Gavin Mills, SXC
It seems a simple concept. Craft a beer around on the moods and flavors of a particular time of year, design an appropriately themed packaging motif and release it to the public as a seasonal beer. In colder months focus on darker, heavier brews with a touch more strength, while adding bit of spice to some for a more holiday feel. As the frost fades, turn to something lighter, easy to drink and more refreshing.
There are plentiful examples of how this ideology is well-executed it comes to the beers themselves, as many are certainly in tune with the seasons they represent. However, the timing of such releases is getting more and more puzzling. For me, something gets lost when I can buy a fall fest beer in July, a pumpkin beer in August, or a Christmas ale on the way home from my local Oktoberfest celebration (many of which happen in September). Worse yet, what are we to think of "harvest" ales that come out before the current year's actual harvest?
Call me crazy, but in my mind there is an inherent disconnect in releasing a beer in July and referring to it as a "fall seasonal". The last time I checked the autumnal equinox doesn't even happen until the end of September. How am I expected to enjoy a fall brew in the spirit in which it was created with the thermometer hovering about the century mark?
It is understandable to give consumers a bit of lead time, but making seasonals available as much as three months beforehand seems a bit much. We are inundated with the idea that we should enjoy our craft beers at the peak of freshness, but what happens if I purchase a spring ale in early January only to hold off on enjoying it until shortly after the first day of spring? Suddenly, April Fool's Day has a whole new meaning.
Keep in mind that although this commentary references fall, similar anomalies occur throughout the year. In this case, autumn's pending arrival (in a mere 53 days) just represents a convenient foundation on which to bring about the point. Perhaps, like most North Texans, I'm just exhausted from the heat and am simply in need of appropriate refreshment. August is only a day away, which means the first batch of winter brews are probably just around the corner. Sounds like just the thing for a relaxing afternoon of backyard sun worship, at least until what's left of my lawn spontaneously combusts.
*Originally published on Examiner.com