Seasonal Change and Shifting Preferences: Breweries Look for New Ways to Keep Portfolios Fresh

Discussion in 'Article Comments' started by BeerAdvocate, May 10, 2017.

  1. BeerAdvocate

    BeerAdvocate Founders (17,635) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    Premo88 likes this.
  2. Drewfuss

    Drewfuss Initiate (115) Apr 28, 2017 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, c'mon, Russian River. Can we get some Younger year round? :slight_smile:
    Brolo75 and Tdizzle like this.
  3. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Zealot (519) Dec 19, 2006 California

    Please, God, tell me that this trend in sales doesn't mean that beers such as Deschutes' Jubelale or Anchor's Christmas Ale will be discontinued. I really, really love big, malty seasonal beers in the winter months. Ugh... An IPA for every season. Sounds awful...
    puck1225, zp6167a, PatrickCT and 6 others like this.
  4. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,128) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico

    Is it possible that part of the reason for seasonals are losing some steam has to do with the fight to be the first out with a seasonal, leading to seasonals being released way early?
  5. bbtkd

    bbtkd Meyvn (1,330) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Supporter Subscriber

    I wonder if some of the previously popular seasonals will become occasionals, coming out every 18-24 months, and with variants, due to pressure from new beers and expanding distribution areas. We've been seeing a lot of established breweries expanding to the South Dakota market, so we've gained a lot of "new to us" brews.
  6. jakecattleco

    jakecattleco Meyvn (1,134) Sep 3, 2008 California

    SN Celebration is to the holiday season for me as much as a Christmas tree, candy canes, mistletoe, and egg nog. When there's room in the beer fridge, Jubleale fills the void. Keep (at least) the winter seasonals coming. I don't want simply quarterly varying IPAs as a brand's seasonal lineup.
    puck1225, Lucular, Brolo75 and 3 others like this.
  7. Riff

    Riff Defender (603) May 12, 2016 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Ditto. I love transitioning off from Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers into the big, malty brews around the holidays. Stouts, porters, ales, with about the only IPA exception being Sierra Nevada's Celebration. Certainly resets the palette and makes me look forwards to the IPAs that come out after the holidays.
    Lucular, bbtkd, Tdizzle and 2 others like this.
  8. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Zealot (519) Dec 19, 2006 California

    SN Celebration is my favorite beer of all time. If that beer gets discontinued, I'm gonna have to rethink my entire beer drinking philosophy.
    Lucular, PatrickCT, Brolo75 and 3 others like this.
  9. johnnybgood1999

    johnnybgood1999 Devotee (427) Oct 31, 2008 Virginia

    Seasonal beer is relevant to me. While it is true that big stouts are available year round, the variety of them and other malty beers increases greatly during the Fall-Winter season. It's comforting and familiar to see them when the weather gets cooler. I also love pumpkin ales and Oktoberfests after a long, hot Summer. Though I don't drink seasonally all the time, I do tweak my intake a bit in Fall and Winter. I love stouts during Summer, but it just feels better to drink a wit by the pool, Oktoberfest/pumpkin during football games and a big stout by the fire when it's snowing.

    That said, I could do without the many mediocre pumpkins that show up on the shelves. I hear that style has lost some sales and I could see why. If there were more like schlafly your average drinker would probably keep buying more! All that said, I hope we don't get inundated with IPAs any more so than we already are, but this statement is concerning:

    "In a way, IPA is the perfect seasonal beer to “replace” seasonal beer: take the country’s top craft style, give it a tweak every few months and you’re offering a new experience to keep promiscuous drinkers coming back, excited to complete a set in every new series."

    I noticed a number of hoppy Oktoberfests and saw a pumpkin IPA last year. Some may enjoy it, but I hope that does not take too much valuable shelf space away from traditional seasonal.
    Tdizzle likes this.
  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,975) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Lately the biggest positive of a beer that is seasonally released is that at least I know it is fresh.

    For some reason in my area the majority of Sierra Nevada brands are older beers sitting on my local retail beer distributors floors (non-air conditioned). I look forward to the release of Celebration every year since I know that I can buy a Sierra Nevada beers that is not many months old.

    Cheers to seasonal releases!! :slight_smile:

    PatrickCT, Tdizzle and jakecattleco like this.
  11. Brolo75

    Brolo75 Poo-Bah (1,613) Aug 10, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    As others have already written Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is my favorite seasonal release. I'm not a big fan of seasonal beers especially since I live in southern CA where we really don't have seasons. I really don't look forward to seasonal beers but I do look forward to special releases.
    jakecattleco and PatrickCT like this.
  12. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (1,946) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Variant IPAs as seasonal releases are great and should be encouraged. Just shouldn't replace highly rated/highly crafted beers from other styles. If a brewer wants to do seasonal IPAs and a few other seasonal styles, that would be really good. Retire the ones with low ratings on social media, low sales and try something new.

    4 IPAs year round (just because of demand and $$$)
    Winter season: bring out 1-2 release of stout/barleywine/big Belgian/Old Ale
    Spring /Summer release - Gose/lighter saison/various lagers/Kolsch/Berlinner etc
    Fall - various browns / Pumpkin etc.

    Now that would work. You'd always ave a general idea of when the beer is fresh as well.
  13. StArnoldFan

    StArnoldFan Defender (603) Dec 28, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Oktoberfest beers should be hitting the shelves in a couple weeks I imagine. :rolling_eyes:
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,975) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    They will not be on the shelves soon but the sad thing is that German brewed Oktoberfest beers are already bottled now. I purchased a 6-pack of Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier last year that was bottled in early May (2016). Why they package these beers in the spring for fall consumption seems silly to me.

  15. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (1,763) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    This is a good point. Even if our preferences for hearty vs. refreshing is simply a cultural phenomenon, the change of seasons brings renewal, not just change. Some beers set a baseline, seasonal beers tend to break with the baseline. While market preferences will certainly change, for various reasons, I suspect we will always have seasonal beers, and more likely they will be determined by the collective experience rather than by marketing executives. On the other hand, fashion is easy to direct from a central control, so maybe the same is true of beer preferences.
    Riff likes this.
  16. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Meyvn (1,136) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    I would hate to see seasonals go away. There are enough great IPAs, they don't need to replace seasonals. I look forward to styles I don't regularly drink coming out for a few months, they just need to quit releasing them so damn early.
    puck1225 likes this.
  17. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,093) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'm thinking seasonals won't go away, but we might find it easier to begin thinking of them as "quarterlies." The weather no longer plays a dominant role in what can get brewed during or for consumption during particular periods of the year.

    Take Oktoberfest beers for an example, once a upon a time, before refrigeration, those were beers that only got brewed before the full onset of summer so that they could then be lagered under the cool/cold conditions in caves and be ready for consumption in the fall since there wasn't much brewing going on in the summer. Not unlike Cantillon where they basically shut down brewing operations during the warm summer months.
  18. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor Meyvn (1,136) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    The weather doesn't play a role in what can be brewed, but it definitely plays a role in what I want to drink. I only really enjoy pumpkin beers and octoberfests in the fall, and drink most of my stouts and barley wines in the fall and winter. I just would prefer to keep most of these released in season, except summer beers I can always drink those.
  19. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,093) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Yeah, I'm the same, there are definitely some beers I prefer in certain seasons of the year but, say in the case of Stout, apparently Stout sales are strong enough that some freshly brewed Stouts seem always to be released in almost any month of the year.

    It would seem that brewers of, say, a "seasonal" such as Pumpkin beers are being pressured by the marketplace to get their beers out there and on the shelf long before the Pumpkin Pie season. My guess is that part of that pressure is that people will buy them in advance and apparently sales of Pumpkin beers drop off dramatically after Thanksgiving.

    So I've pretty much resigned myself to thinking of most of them as Quarterly releases that may appear on the shelves long before I might be in a weather related mood to drink them. :slight_frown:
    Scott17Taylor likes this.
  20. lateralusbeer

    lateralusbeer Initiate (145) Jun 18, 2014 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Oh awesome, yet more replacing classic styles with yet another round of IPAs
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