Why Pumpkin Beer Is Already in Stores, but Not on Tap
Like pumpkin spice products, the seasonal beer is appearing on shelves, but you probably won't find it at the bar just yet.
Pumpkin beers—just like the seemingly millions of other pumpkin items out there – tend to fall into the category of "love it or hate it." Those who aren't fans are probably already lamenting the unnecessarily early August onset of pumpkin product season. Meanwhile, pumpkin junkies may be chomping at the bit to track down these seasonal releases as soon as possible. For those in the latter category, the Washington Post has some advice for you, stay out of the bars and opt for beer stores.
The reasoning behind this advice has to do with the differences in how beer is stocked on-premise as opposed to off-premise. At a bar, draft beers that aren't selling are lost revenue. "Right now, there's nothing worse than tying up a [draft] line with something that's not palatable at all," Nahem Simon, beer director at Jack Rose, explained to the Post. "It's 90 degrees, 66 percent humidity. How much would you hate yourself if you were sitting on the Jack Rose roofdeck right now drinking Flying Dog's the Fear [imperial pumpkin ale]?" As a result, bars are far more reticent to stock seasonal beers before they believe the clientele is ready for them.
But breweries are still under pressure to get their seasonal beers out to the market regardless. "As summer beers sell out, breweries need to have fall beers ready to hold shelf/tap wall space to avoid losing placements," Jeremy Danner, the ambassador brewer for Boulevard Brewing, told the Post. "Here's the deal. If we waited too long after our summer beers sold out, someone else would just have a fall beer ready to take that spot." As a result, pumpkin beers are getting pushed into retail settings earlier. "The beer business has a long supply cycle," Lester Jones, the chief economist at the National Beer Wholesalers Association, elaborated. "Grocery stores have more wiggle room to play with inventory, to get things on the shelf. Bars and restaurants, not so much—they're more of an on-demand business."
So there you have it: If you want to be the first on your block to chug down a pumpkin brew, find a fancy beer store. Pumpkin haters: Sidle up to a bar. You can likely complain to other patrons about your hatred of the orange squash without a pumpkin beer in sight...for a few more weeks, anyway.