There Are No Beer Seasons

Eno Sarris , June 17, 2014

You've got your pumpkin beer season. Your wet hop IPAs. Your dark stout season. Your session IPA season. You've got your beer seasons, or at least your seasonal beers. 

We've tried to describe the beer seasons from a quantity angle before, and we found that there's seasonal creep -- Pumpkin beers show up in August at least

But what do the scores for two very different beer styles look like over time? We're far enough into 2014 that this year's data should show some beer seasons, if there are any. You'd think that scores would go up for a beer in its season, if there truly were seasons. 

Here are the IPA scores since the beginning of the year:

Looks pretty steady, certainly not from this angle. Let's zoom in a bit. 

Now there's more variation, but still not much. Never lower than 3.35, only once higher than 3.5, the average American IPA generally scores 3.45 on any given day. And there's very little evidence here of any trend in one direction. The monthly averages in the sample run from 3.437 (May) to 3.445 (March). 

People like IPAs all the time. How about Stouts? The American Stout seems like a winter beer, all that thickness. It rarely gets deeper or darker than Guinness at a baseball game, according to our ballpark beer reviews

Ah. I see. The same thing. People love American Stouts -- whenever.

Let's zoom in again. 

Now we're all over the place and a potential for trends seems possible. On the other hand, the spread is not much bigger than American IPAs -- 3.35 to 3.5, generally. Okay, we can up it to 3.3 to 3.55. But do you see a trend line here? 

Let's look at it monthly:

Month Ave AmStout
January 3.403
February 3.406
March 3.414
April 3.409
May 3.421
June 3.464

Well, if you're brave, you can call the only month that would round to anything other than 3.4 a trend (May *is* the second-highest score), but you have to then remember that the sample here is about one quarter the sample that American IPAs get. That's the reason for the spread, and it's also probably the reason for a random June fluctuation. Or maybe a single beer release in June drove some scores higher. At around 1000 check-ins a day for this style, it's possible to move the needle a bit with one beer. 

But one thing seems fairly clear. Looking at American Stouts and American IPA ratings for the first half of the year doesn't produce any obvious seasons for each beer. 

Good news! You can drink what you like when you like it. 

Provided, of course, the breweries provide it at the right time.