Good Beer Hunting

Amid Flat Sales, Breweries Scale Back Production of Pumpkin Beer

Forbes is reporting that a number of prominent breweries are scaling back production of pumpkin beers this year. Though fairly divisive among craft beer drinkers, pumpkin beer has no less proven insanely popular in recent years, inspiring festivals devoted to the cinnamon-rimmed style in places like Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and other locales.

Whether brought on by consumer fatigue of the so-called “seasonal creep,” a general oversaturation in the marketplace, or unseasonably warm Autumn temperatures, brewers were faced with a hard truth last year: pumpkin beers were rotting away on the shelf long past the last day even the Headless Horseman would be looking for a taste. A month ago, we reported that Alaskan Brewing Company had removed pumpkin beers from their release schedule altogether. Now, Forbes counts Boston Beer, Harpoon, Southern Tier, Shipyard, and others, among the pumpkin purists opting to scale back on production this fall. Ithaca has also discontinued its entry entirely.
It’s still a bit premature to spell doom for the category, despite some implying—oddly joyfully, we might add—that the bubble has burst. Rather, this seems less like a death knell than it does an acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, some brewers got too big for their britches with regards to pumpkin beer (though Dogfish Head, Forbes reports, actually ramped up production for its Punkin Ale this year).
However, this certainly opens the door for new categories to emerge as a potential fall favorite to compete with, or even leapfrog, the pumpkin. Märzens, Porters, something else—who knows! It’s too early to say, but it’s probably a good thing for anyone who likes trying new beer. And that people like trying new beer likely isn’t going to change for a good long while. Unlike the seasons.
—Dave Eisenberg
As Pumpkin Beer Sales Go Flat, Spooked Brewers Cut Production [Forbes]