In my past life as a bookstore manager, we retailers used to note that Christmas came earlier and earlier every year. As someone who now spends his days dealing with beer, it’s another season that’s got me checking the calendars.
Here it is, barely August, and there are already seven gourd-accented beers available with many more to follow. Four of those seven were ready for sale in late July! Who decided this to be acceptable? From where did this jumping of the gun come? In a nutshell, we’re to blame.
Us. The consumers. Pumpkin beer has erupted in the last five years. Now every brewery out there seems to be churning one out. While they all want to have one of their own on the shelves, they still can’t take away from their regular production for too long, so a very limited amount is made. We find out that it’s in short supply so we snatch it up as soon as we find it.
Knowing it’s all going to sell, everyone wants to be the first with theirs available. When distributors and sales reps report back to the brewery that the product is already gone, the decision gets made sometimes to move up production next year. Add the competitive nature of a capitalist society to the mix and you have pumpkin beer in July.
My brain isn’t quite fully in the cool weather, light sweater, roast the turkey and pass the gravy please mindset just yet so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m harping about all this. Comedians ask the phrase “Too Soon?” when they’re pointedly wounding to the quick. Is it too soon for pumpkin brew?
Well… pumpkins are ripe in the fall, so we tend to associate one with the other. At time of writing this it’s 91F outside. So, yeah, in that regard it’s too soon. But what about the idea that if you like something, it really shouldn’t matter when you find it? Peppermints are associated with Christmas-time as candy canes yet no one gives a thought to eating one around Mother’s Day. Jelly beans and Easter are synonymous but I just bought a bag of Jelly Belly the other day. So why not have a pumpkin beer a couple of months early, especially if it’s really good?
I’m a big fan of Uinta Brewing and have yet to try a beer from them I haven’t liked. When I spied their Punk’n Ale as available, I immediately snatched up a couple of cases. Granted I’d rather see this in October/November, but it’s pretty dang good right now! Reddish-orange with a well-maintained head and faint carbonation, Punk’n leans more towards pumpkin bread instead of a pie. It drinks clean and a little creamy with scents and flavors that echo each other; caramel, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar and, of course, pumpkin.
When a beer is this nice it’s welcome around my house any time of year.