Sixpoint calls out pre-season pumpkin beers

sixpoint ales logo(Brooklyn, NY) – Sixpoint Brewery took to Twitter on Wednesday to declare its feelings on July and August pumpkin beers:

“Any pumpkin beer on shelves now is clearly not made with this year’s pumpkin. Pumpkins are not harvested until October or November.”

Coincidentally, just a few hours earlier, BeerPulse published a press release from Hunterdon Distributors in which the company touted that it had shipped a record 7,000+ case-equivalents of pumpkin ales in July. Hunterdon just happens to be a wholesaler for Sixpoint in New Jersey.

A bit of research shows that this may actually be a Northeast and Mid-Atlantic phenomenon. A search of nearly 1,000 beers on Minnesota-based France44’s website (BeerPulse sponsor) on Wednesday night yielded not a single pumpkin beer.

So…is this phenomenon limited to the East Coast or is it happening elsewhere?

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26 thoughts on “Sixpoint calls out pre-season pumpkin beers

  1. It’s certainly happening on the East Coast. Southern Tier Pumking is already on the shelves, and it seems to be coming earlier every year. In 2010 when I visited the brewery it was still in the tanks in early August. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin has already been brewed and bottled as well. It’s like Christmas decorations in the stores in September; the “seasons” keep starting earlier and earlier, as everyone jockeys to be the “first” out with something. Here is what’s available at a local bottle shop as of yesterday:

    Sly Fox Oktoberfest
    Sierra Nevada Tumbler
    Lakefront Oktoberfest
    Stoudts Oktoberfest
    Weinstphaner Oktoberfest
    Thirsty Dog Oktoberfest
    Lancaster Octoberfest
    Sam Adams Octoberfest
    Southern Tier PumKing
    Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin
    Fegleys Devious Imperial Pumpkin
    Lakefront Pumpkin Lager
    Shipyards Pumpkin Head
    Smutty Nose Pumpkin
    Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin
    Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale

    That said, Pumkins and Festbiers in July/August is only part of the problem. We’ll have holiday beers in September and Spring beers in January just after the first of the year (kudos to Troegs, BTW, for pushing back the Nugget Nectar release this past year). The shame of it is if you don’t jump on them now, there won’t be any left when you really want to drink them.

  2. Well the east coast breweries that are distributed here in the midwest are showing up: Pumking, SA Octo but also NEw Belgium hoptober is coming out here, I think it is just east goast and bigger breweries trying to get in a bit quicker than the other. There are a few german oktos out too but 2 of them are year round (spaten, paulaner) and the other (altenmuenster) could be too but im not sure.

  3. We need a “late summer” beer season. Call it fruit beer season, or something, just to push off the Pumpkin/Fall/Oktoberfest season.

  4. and to be clear Oktoberfest starts next month so it isn’t that bad to see an kto beer but halloween isn’t for AWHILE. Pumpkin beer isn’t that great anyways and tbh I could drink it at anytime but it wouldn’t be that enjoyable. Another thing is there are always pumpkins growing somewhere in the world at all times. And I think a lot of brewers use pumkin in a can which is usually squash anyways.

  5. I say bring on the pumpkin brews. I know a ton of folks who are anxious to get there hands on them now and bummed when they go away in the winter. Folks who don’t want them yet, should just wait to buy them until they’re ready. I just picked up a 6 pack of the Night Owl from Elysian Brewery and drank it in the sunshine with some friends. It tasted fantastic. I haven’t seen any of the more limited release pumpkin brews from Elysian yet, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Dark of the Moon and Great Pumpkin.

  6. I agree with you guys it is way too early for the pumpkin beers. I was shopping yesterday and the clerk told me that the sixpoint automation was from last year! Yikes!!!! Needless to say I passed and got union jack instead.

  7. When sixpoint stops contract brewing and starts to care about their entire product, not just the product in their home market , then they can have an opinion on when it’s too early to release a seasonal beer.

  8. Said it before and I’ll say it again; The ONLY way to combat this is with your wallets. It’s easy to take a stand when you’re sitting down. If you’re adamant about ridiculously early seasonals, DON’T BUY THEM YET!

    You people who say “This is insanity!… but I bought them anyway” need to get your heads out of your asses. If you don’t mind early Pumpkin beers and buy them in July — so be it. That’s your right as a consumer. But don’t turn around the second it’s in your fridge and say how much you hate that breweries do that. That’s brainless.

    You’re entitled to NOTHING in the world of beer. NOTHING. “Well if I don’t buy them now, I’ll never get any, they’ll be sold out.” First of all, no they won’t. There will be plenty left. This year hit record numbers for pumpkin beers brewed. But the fact of the matter is, if you’d like to set a course for major sea-change in seasonal beers… sacrifice. Sacrifice something and empower yourself. You’re owed nothing. You cannot have it both ways.

  9. @PhillyBeerGuy I’d bet a lot of money that the PumKing you’re seeing is last years. I live and work very close to Southern Tier Brewing and they just started bottling last week. Quoted from their Facebook page “A common question we’ve been hearing a lot lately is “When will Pumking be available in Anytown, USA?” Our response is “We’re shipping it as soon as it’s packaged and it will be in all of our distribution areas by the end of August.” Here’s what the labeler looks like when we’re at warp speed (9000+ bottles per hour).”
    Philly doesn’t always get everything first ;-)

  10. I had stopped in at Smuttynose brewery around the 4th and they had their pumpkin beer in the fermentors that day. Smelt delicious, but clearly ahead of the pumpkin season. Maybe the get them from other parts of the world. Disney’s Epcot always has pumpkins growing in their gardens.

  11. At some point sooner than later there will be an over saturation (not that there isn’t already) in the Pumpkin beer segment and some overly confident breweries will take a big hit with unsold or returned inventory.

    Too many choices are coming to the marketplace for a loyal but small (compared to the overall audience) beer drinking population. Retailers (on and off premise) are already getting weary of having to shuffle non-pumpkin inventory starting at the end of July in order to make sure that they have room to store the arriving pumpkin inventory (let alone Oktoberfest inventory) arriving in early August. If they don’t order and take possession that early they risk not being able to get the inventory that their customers demand. Yet by the middle of the season they’re sitting on slowly moving Pumpkin kegs as customers have already had enough or they’re waiting for the few breweries who are actually brewing on a traditional calendar.

    I’m personally not a Pumpkin Beer fan – I have nothing against it – more amused by the narrow segment and the hoops all tiers of the industry have to jump through in order to sell it and make money.

  12. Distribution channels are asking Brewers to have it ready earlier and earlier every year… Talk to your distribution rep about it.

  13. David,

    Brewers have it ready because people keep buying it. A distribution rep isn’t going to listen to people’s complaints: They listen to money when it stops rolling in. Red ink is very, very loud. To enact change like this, consumers need to buy seasonals during the time they deem appropriate.

    Empower yourselves, citizens.

  14. 1) Most pumpkin beers are sugar or spice bombs.

    2) Canned pumpkin is good enough for me! ;)

  15. Two quick comments.

    First, in response to Sixpoint Brewery, pumpkin proper adds very little to a beer, as they probably know. Many breweries use other members of the pumpkin family – sweet squash, in particular – instead with extremely good results in the glass. As squash is harvested throughout the year, his concerns are misplaced. On the other hand, of course, they must represent their brand as best as possible, and leveraging off of the freshness of your pumpkins is a good way to do it.

    Second, on a personal note, if pumpkin beer was available year round, I’d drink it year round. Fall is my favorite season, and I think the rest of the year could use a little autumn.

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  17. I wish the different beers were available all year long. Why should I be limited to only have pumpkins in the fall? I sometimes feel like one in mid spring!

  18. Funny that sixpoint doesn’t callout every brewery, including themselves, about using last years hops and malt crops too.

    Pumpkin, along with hops and barley, are crops that have been harvested the previous year. Unless you are going to grow your own hops and barley, malt your own barley, grow and roast/cook your own pumpkin, as they are ready at harvest; which is more than un-realsitic on any production scale, just stop the negativity.

    To touch on another point, sixpoint should worry more about making their own beer rather than contracting out all of their can production.

    On the availability of seasonals early, production breweries have distributors as their customer and then final sale, bars and liquor stores, as the distributor’s customer. They provide the product for the demand the best they can. Stop judging or stop buying – or make all your own product.

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