I’m Not Drinking Non-Seasonal Beers or Whiskeys.

We all know that there is a certain order to things in the beer world, and to a lesser extent in the whiskey world as well.  For beer, Barleywines are a harbinger of spring time, IPAs make a big slpash in summer as do Saisons.  Fall leads to Marzen and Pumpking Brews and Winter is for the big boy stouts.  Some beers have crossed over into all seasons like Pale ales and Porters.  The same can be said for whiskey to some extent.  Summer is for lighter wheat whiskeys and winter is for the bigger heavier high rye bourbons and rye whiskey.  What I wasn’t expecting to learn about myself when we began this blog a few years ago was just how compelled I am by this and that I will actually turn my nose up at a brew if it isn’t in the “proper season” by my estimation.

I’ve been hanging out at my favorite watering hole, Brewforia quite a bit lately,  and drinking a bit of beer that they have on tap.  Thing is that if something doesn’t seem “right” to me, I won’t order it.  I know this seems like a simple concept, if you don’t want something you don’t order it, but it has made me aware of something that is much deeper seated in me than I ever knew.  I really don’t want beers styles that seem out of place on this crazy beer and whiskey timeline I have in my head.

Here is a good example.  Saison is one of my favorite styles.  I think it gives the brewer a ton of latitude and can really allow for some creativity within the style.  I saw that there was a saison on tap, but did I want it?  Not only no, but Hell No!  Its 30 degrees outside, it isn’t time for Saisons!  However there was a Barleywine on tap, and that, along with the stouts really appealed to me.

Put a stout on tap in the summer, and I’m gonna leave it 9 times out of 10, I want an IPA or a Pale Ale or a DIPA or something aged in *GULP* Chardonnay Barrels!  YIKES!  I guess I always knew that I like the pace of the seasons and the different beers that are associated with them, but I never thought I was a creature of habit where my drinking palate was concerned.  Turns out I can set the calendar by it.

How about you?  Do the season’s influence your drinking preferences to the point where you won’t drink a certain style of beer?  Let us know in the comments.

I’m gonna go dig out that bourbon barrel aged quad I’ve been hanging onto.


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49 Comments on “I’m Not Drinking Non-Seasonal Beers or Whiskeys.”

  1. Brett
    February 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I’m right there with you. While I may not be QUITE as hard and fast about my choices, I think if you were to chart my beer drinking habits, they would line up seasonally. I think the big exception would be IPAs. I can’t think of a wrong time to enjoy a full flavored, hopped up ale regardless of the season.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      I’m that way somewhat with stouts. I will drink stouts in the summer, but I would prefer a nice Black IPA instead. I’m glad I’m not the only one that has SABDD (Seasonally Affected Beer Drinking Disorder)

  2. February 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Yo Don!

    As I have said before, I’m relatively new to the Craft Beer party, so I was never aware of this seasonal beer stuff until a couple years ago.

    While I usually let what I’m eating decide what I should be drinking (never a bad time for Saison Dupont in my book), the fact that I am having more seasonal brews in their actual season has more to do with the fact that I’m on a quest to try as many interesting beers as my liver can handle, which leads me to have beers when they are actually released.

    Did that answer your question?


    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      I get it G. But what really shocked me was the visceral reaction I had to seeing a saison on the tap list. I know its stupid, but I can’t deny the fact that I am a seasonal drinker.

      • John
        February 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

        My viceral reaction is when the they have 20 craft brews on tap and 15 are IPA’s! I too tend to drink beer seasonally. Whisky however is timeless thougn sometimes I prefer a Scotch over a bourbon on a cold afternoon.. Sometimes

        • Don
          February 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

          I guess it is a bit more than what you state John. To me there is a difference between just being influenced by a tap list, and completely shutting down the possibility of drinking a brew out of season. Whiskey is timeless, i agree, but I find myself wanting high rye whiskey in the winter and wheaters in the summer.

      • John
        February 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

        So if a Pappy 15 found it’s way over midwinter I should instead pour you a Templeton?

        • Don
          February 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

          I love the pappy 15, but I’d say it sparkles better in the summer. I’m far less inclined to follow seasonal rules where whiskey is concerned, but in general a Templeton would be very much appreciated! 🙂

  3. February 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Somewhat, but for the most part I’d say no. I drink whatever I’m in the mood for, be it an Imperial Stout in the summer or a Hefeweizen in the winter. I get the marketing aspect of it, and I think it is influential on people (see: this article). 😀 Again, I’ll drink whatever I feel like!

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Maybe that is it, I’m simply a marketing success story! They have my mind and my palate just where they want it!

  4. Marvin
    February 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I never look at seasons for beer. Now during certain seasons I will get a hankering for certains styles over others, but I will drink anything year round. Been enjoying the Uprising Saisons a lot this last month as a matter of fact.

    Also, personal opinion here, I think Barleywines are released at the wrong time. I would like to see an early December release for when the cold sets in. And DIPAs for me seem more of a fall beer due to the weight. But, that being said, any style anytime of the year is fair game for me.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      Well Marvin, you’re a brewer, is there a reason for certain beers to be released at certain times of year? Are ingredients only available at certain times of year? Conversely, can you brew any beer any time? Are the tap handles influenced by people’s seasonal drinking preferences? what causes this seasonality?

      • Marvin Kinney
        February 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

        A lot of it came about from pre-refrigeration times. Sasions for example were brewed for Harvest times. Typically late fall to early winter. The cool winter months would do a slow fermentation and help avoid spoilage that would ramp up as the weather got warmer. Then they could be stored in bottles in a celaar during the hotter months. This is why Saisions are brewed that way now, start low ramp up to 80-90 degrees as the yeast is used to it. A lot of it has been done for so long it is just tradition now.

        • Don
          February 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

          So what I hear you saying Marv is that there used to be a reason for the beer seasons, but now with climate control, etc, there really is no particular reason for beer seasons. Interesting.

  5. Rob Wallace
    February 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    You know what you should be drinking? The first flight of bourbon so we can send the next flight…

    My beer drinking tends to move with the seasons. December and January were for big stouts and winter ales, February is barleywines, belgian darks, and sours. March runs dopplebocks, maerzens, and ESBs. April I move toward pales. I pretty much drink IPAs all summer long, then move back into maltier beers when the fall rolls around..

    • Rob Wallace
      February 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      I should mention that I don’t strictly follow those guidelines, as i had a Lucille DIPA the other day and it was fabulous. Those are just generally what I can be found drinking during the calendar year.

      • Don
        February 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

        Well for me too, there is the occasional outlyer, but mostly my interests really follow seasons.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Jebus Rob, you got it worse than me! And I know I should drink the first flight. Just can never find a good time to drink 4 ounces of whiskey. I didn’t expect it to be such a challenge. Not just the palate thing, but also the commitment involved to do it justice!

      • Rob Wallace
        February 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

        Well, we sent you 8 oz. Here’s a suggestion. Drink one a night. Take notes. Repeat for four nights. 🙂

        • Don
          February 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

          Good idea.

        • John
          February 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

          I can start a blog if your sending whisky. Jim can’t finish 8oz and around here we run nearly through a Black Maple Hill in a week. Barrel Aged is Better Blog at your service!

        • Don
          February 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

          Ahem John. No dissin’ the B&WB blog in our comments! Although I’m sure you are right there are a ton of better blogs out there. 😉

        • John
          February 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

          Don, I’m working for free whisky here. All is fair in free beer and whiskey…or something like that.

  6. John King
    February 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I just drink beer, no matter the season. I see no colors or styles…I’m multicultural!

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      Good for you John. Perhaps being of the Ursine influence, certain beer styles go into hibernation for me. Could be.

  7. February 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Totally. As much as I love my stouts and porters, I really won’t go for them when the weather is hot. I laugh at light beer most of the time, but when it’s hot? A Dogfish Head Lawnmower Light is amazing on a hot day.

    The weather in Delaware has been unseasonably warm and that’s really thrown my routine. Last week I was finally looking for winter warmers – HA – sold out, as the distributors switch to lighter beers as the clothing stores offer shorts and bathing suits. It wasn’t truly settling when I bought some Lancaster Milk Stout, but that beer was still less of the good thing that I had in mind.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      For me, porters work all year long, unless you are talking about a big imperial porter or a very juiced up coffee porter, they are pretty much relegated to winter, but give me a Deschutes Black Butte Porter any time of year. I have found some great lawnmower beers for this year, and I am really looking forward to having them while mowing the lower pasture on my new riding lawn mower this year!

  8. February 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Hmmm…I’m with Rob. I’d say my drinking flows with the season but isn’t bound by it. This is particularly true if I’m drinking while eating. In that case, I’ll match the food to the beer. I think I did that just yesterday at lunch, paired a saison with a chicken corn chowder. Conversely, I love big stouts and I’ve been known to enjoy them in the heat of summer, too.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      Funny thing is I agree that beer can enhance the flavor of food, but I typically select my food based on the beer I want to drink, not the other way around.

  9. Myke J
    February 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    I agree mostly. I was excited to try the “Winter Warmers” from both breweries here in Lawrence, KS (Free State Brewery & 23rd St Brewery), but very dissapointed to discover that both of them we’re IPA’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love IPA’s, but that’s not what comes to mind when I think of a winter warmer. I lived the Pacific Northwest for the first 30 years of my life and that’s where I learned a lot about beer and what to expect from a brewery. I’m used to a winter warmer being something that warms you up on a cold winter evening. A brew that is at least brown in color with just enough alcohol so that you notice it and a malty backbone strong enough to bring it all together. You want to throw a lot of hops at it? Great! But don’t just make it another IPA, give it some style.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      Agreed, but with the possible exception of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. That is a hoppy wonderful brew that makes me think of snow and Christmas and turkey. For me that beer has successfully made the cross over, but not too many others. I even thought Juble this year was a bit too light.

  10. February 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I agree… in part. I prefer stouts, porters & barleywines in the colder months. However, I’ll drink IPAs & pale ales anytime… and good whiskey is good whiskey no matter what the calendar says.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      I agree on the Pales, but not the big hoppy IPAs. Too many hops to ignore the obvious correlation with summer. Good whiskey is good, but paired correctly with the seasons and a good cigar, it can transcend time and space!

  11. BeerBanker
    February 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    While I will tend to drink lighter in the warmer(more sunlight ?) months and darker in the colder (less sunlight ?) months, I think it has more to do with whether I’m eating heavier foods or lighter foods. That said, this past weekend at a gathering, we had a variety of light munchies and drank:
    HopSlam (Dbl IPA),
    Wild Heaven Eschaton (Belg. Quad),
    Three Philosopher’s (Belg Quad),
    and Spike & Jerome’s Gawdawful Lambic (Love ya Spike, but it was panned by all).

    To thine own thirst be true..Screw the season, if it’s good and you’re thirsty, drink it…

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      I agree you should always drink what you like. Without a doubt, just the seasons seem to dictate for me what I want. I really thought I was more of a renaissance man than that.

  12. Cannonball Bill
    February 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    So you wont drink a Barleywine in the Fall? I do, I stock up all winter just so I can have them when I want. Just sayin…

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Well Bill, the answer is…sometimes. I really like the barleywine season and my palate comes along for the ride quite willingly. Mostly in the fall though I look for the fun pumpkin ales, imperial and coffee porters and the anticipation of stout season. So I guess I’d in all likelihood pass on a fall barleywine.

  13. February 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    I too tend to follow the seasons, but its more a matter of what’s available than any seasonal taboo list. As much as I love IPA, if I had my druthers I’d drink stouts and porters all year long. There’s also the matter of kidney stones–stouts have a lot more oxalic acid than lighter beers do. Of course I can counter that by eating some good Stilton or Double Gloucester cheese along with my beer (LOL).

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Stouts are probably my one exception. I love them long time. And a good stout in the summer is a thing of joy, however I’d also say that I enjoy lighter English style stouts more in the summer than other times of the year.

  14. February 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    What bothers me is when breweries release what they intend to be seasonals early. I complained (loudly) about the explosion of pumpkin beer releases this past summer. I made a very strong point to not buy any pumpkin beer until October 1st, which was more a test of my own will than anything else. Besides, there was so much more to enjoy (like Oktoberfests, which are appropriate for September). If it’s intended to be a seasonal beer, then keep it to the season to which it belongs. If people want to stock up and enjoy some off-season, great. Or, sell it year-round and kill the seasonal hype.

    This isn’t to say I won’t drink off-season beers. I drink what I’m in the mood for. Stouts and barleywines in the summer? Sure! Wits and hefeweizens in the winter? Bring it! But if it’s intended to be a seasonal, then keep it in season. If I want it off-season, I’ll stockpile some. If there’s a big demand for it year round, then don’t make it a seasonal release.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      It is kind of like seeing a Christmas shopping ad before Halloween. I’m old enough to remember when we wouldn’t see anything Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving! It was actually kind of fun, because the stores would decorate over night, and you went from fall to a winter wonderland in the blink of an eye. Now I’m seeing those decoration spring up in September! That’s just so wrong! So I can see breweries trying the same stunt in order to grab a larger share of the seasonal buying.

  15. Kid Carboy Jr.
    February 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    The seasons don’t really affect my tastes at all. The seasons DO affect availability, however, which is a pain. I like to drink imperial stouts all year round, damnit. The types of brews that I typically favor often make Spring the lowpoint of the beer year for me, with each season building toward a crescendo in the winter.

    • Don
      February 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      So I guess you stock up in the winter. Although a good bottle shop will have stouts available year round!

      • Kid Carboy Jr.
        February 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

        There’s always good beer around, I just like the seasonal releases that pop up around fall and winter best.

        • Kid Carboy Jr.
          February 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

          Case in point: Avery New World Porter just showed up out here.

  16. NicM
    February 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I tend to eat and drink seasonally (I mostly shop at farmer’s markets) but it drives me crazy that the seasonal beers are released so early now. Just try to get a pumpkin beer in October. Only the crappy ones that didn’t sell well are left and they’re filling in the shelves with winter warmers. And I started seeing spring ales in January! Now I’m remembering it’s the time for onion soup and rich malty beers mmm

  17. Dave
    February 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    I’m not really one to stick to the “beer” calendar. In fact, on a scorching summer day after I’ve finished mowing the grass and working in the yard, I really crave an imperial stout. Maybe it’s my body trying to tell my brain that I electrolytes or something. On the other hand, I won’t drink a pumpkin ale after December. Probably because I’m so tired of pumpkin pie, pumpkin custard, pumpkin bread, and anything else pumpkin by then.

  18. February 1, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    I don’t know. I like a good Saison with fish and chicken dishes, no matter the time of year. Some friends and I love a good imperial stout on the hottest days of summer. We get buzzed pretty quickly so that we don’t have to drink much. Plus, the flavors that come out as the beer warms are amazing.

  19. February 2, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    I’m kind of a stubborn jackass about it in the opposite direction. I have the styles that I like, and I’ll hold onto them year round. If I can find a saison in December or January, I’ll gladly drink it. Even though it might be 100 degrees outside, I’m still drinking big boy stouts and porters.

    But I do enjoy the hell out of the fact that you can look at a bar’s tappers and know exactly what time of year it is.

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