I was at one of the larger beer stores in my area last week, picking up a four pack of Founders Cerise, their ale brewed with Michigan tart cherries that is particularly excellent this year.
I love fruit beers in the month of August – they are a tasty pick-me-up at the end of a long, hot summer. The trouble is, I feel like they are being rushed off of the shelves while the weather is still scorching to make room for heartier fall seasonal beers.
I saw this illustrated quite clearly as I was perusing the craft beer wall for fruity delights. Behind me on the opposite side of the aisle were more than a few different pumpkin and “fest” beers stacked high, looming silently, waiting for the SKU’s of summer to sell out so they can take their place.
I know that seasonal beers are…umm…seasonal, but summer is still in full bloom, and I don’t like feeling pressured to load up on summer selections so I’ll have something refreshing to drink when it’s still 90 degrees in New Jersey in a few weeks.
It should be like when I was a kid. Christmas waited patiently until the Thanksgiving table had been cleared before it tried to take center stage. Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season, with the mall (a place where people shopped in the late 20th century) decked out in cheesy displays of seasonal splendor. It was an event.
Then a few years ago, Cyber Monday became a thing, and online retailers cut in line ahead of their brick-and-mortar counterparts to make a grab at your wallet four days early (EDIT:Reader Mark points out that Cyber Monday is after Black Friday, not before, but last year’s pre-Cyber Monday deals were definitely pimped before the turkey was carved). But now even that seems tame, because the TV ads for holiday shopping now start in October, while I’m still trying to admire the goddamn fall foliage! Stop humping my leg, Christmas – wait you turn!!
As you can see, I have some issues about seasonal appropriateness when it comes to retailing, and seeing those fall seasonals stacked up in the first week of August clearly struck that nerve.
I guess I see the unvarnished greed of it. Target doesn’t start playing Christmas ads during Week 8 of the NFL season because they’re just so darn excited about sharing the holiday spirit that they just can’t wait(!). They do it so you come and buy early with them. Once you have that Nerf flame thrower in the attic for little Johnny, you’re not gonna need another one. Suck it Toys ‘R Us!!
I kind of feel the same way about fall seasonals. I know there’s a supply chain and sometimes things arrive early, but seeing them out for sale made the “money grab” bell go off in my head. I felt like these brewers were so eager to get in my cart before the other guys sold me a pumpkin beer, they shipped their stuff in late July, when Target proclaims its Back to School time(!).
As a guy who appreciates a wide selection of beer buying options, I should be happy to see these fall beers rolling into the stores. But it seems early this year. Too early. Suspiciously early. Like craft brewers are adopting Big Business tactics to maximize their potential seasonal profits and hit their projected revenue targets as efficiently as possible.
While this might be a reality (craft beer is a big business), it’s a reality I don’t like. I prefer to think of craft brewers as shaggy guys and earthy girls who are having fun making beer and accidentally make some money doing it. It’s becoming more and more clear that my beer goggles are a little rose colored.