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The Death Of Pumpkin Beers

Michael Donato, July 21, 2015 -   

It’s almost premature pumpkin beer season again, in fact it might very well have already happened. That magical time in early summer when craft beer enthusiasts bemoan seasonal shift and the arrival of pumpkin beers before the days have really even started getting shorter. There’s good news though; this season might be the one that finally bursts the pumpkin bubble.

If you’re like me you’ve noticed pumpkin beers, specifically Southern Tier Pumking, lingering in bottle shops and distributors months and months after the initial release.  It didn’t seem to be selling well then either, and those bottles haven’t been flying off the shelves in spring either. It’s not just a few stores, I’ve seen them in a few places and have even seen them move around, disappear for a little, and return. Clearly there was just too much pumpkin around last year.

Expect this year to be the same. The breweries sold a ton of pumpkin beer to retailers this year, and might be expecting the same volume this year. Retailers on the other hand clearly over-purchased. This means dialing back the order even if they don’t try to pass off the remnants of last years supply to this years customers. That might mean breweries are suddenly met with a lack of interest in their pumpkin beers and maybe that’ll cause them to rededicate fermenter space to something else. 

That’s all without turning people off to pumpkin, or pumpkin spice, beers. After a year of aging in the less than optimal conditions of the average beverage distributor, the quality of these beers is going to plummet, and you can be sure at least some of these places are going to roll the old supply of beer right out there with the new stuff. 

This year is finally going to be the year the pumpkin bubble burst. At least, the pumpkin beer bubble. I have nothing to say about America’s Pumpkin Spice Latte fixation. Pumpkin beers certainly have their place, but that place is not in July and in everybody’s fermenters. Save some room for the hop crop and fresh harvest ales. 

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd and admittedly has a five year old bottle of Pumking floating around his basement somewhere. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

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