Fashionably early

This last week DRAFT’s offices have come under assault by the legions of FedEx, UPS and the USPS. In other words, we’ve had a ton of beer shipped to us for sampling. Yes, it is quite rad.

Beers ranging from Berliner weisses to IPAs to the experimental variety (one made with peanuts from Throwback Brewery) have been unpacked, tagged and are ready for tasting. But, while unpacking all these boxes, I couldn’t help but notice a few oddities in the seasonal department: Pumpkin beers and winter ales have already arrived. Specifically, four pumpkin beers and two winter beers. Today in Phoenix—where our editorial department is based—we’re scheduled to hit 103 degrees.

As a magazine that works pretty far in advance, DRAFT gets lots of seasonal samples ahead of their scheduled release. But each year, I hear more and more people noting (some lamenting) the fact that those early arrivals are popping up on shelves, too.

As the number of breweries continues to grow (as well as the number that package) it makes sense from a business perspective to be the first out of the gate when it comes to seasonal releases, pumpkin ales being an example often cited. Personally, I’m not too bothered by pumpkin beer in early September—maybe that’s because I live in Phoenix, where it always feels like summer. On the other hand, I can’t argue with those who point out the ridiculousness of prematurely releasing beers ahead of their traditionally scheduled drinking time. We’re trying to keep a schedule here, man.

Have you noticed seasonal releases arriving way before you think they should? Do you buy them or wait until the weather finally turns?

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012