Our long national pumpkin-everything nightmare is almost over.
According to Forbes, pumpkin beer sales are “rotting away like a jack-o-lantern on a tropical Christmas afternoon.” Besides oversaturation and overproduction, hot fall temps are also to blame (with pumpkin beers actually getting more traction in early spring — yes, you can blame climate change).
Seasonal creep also plays into the lack of fall sales: some breweries, like Weyerbacher, are releasing pumpkin beers as early as July. In response, the company said it was cutting its pumpkin beer production in half this year. Breweries such as Ithaca, Shock Top and Samuel Adams, meanwhile, have either stopped or halved production on pumpkin brews.
Although overall statistics won’t be available for a while, the article notes that Maine’s Shipyard Brewing — makers of Pumpkinhead and Smashed Pumpkin beers — said sales of their pumpkin brews dropped 10,000 barrels last year, a significant number for a small brewery. In response, Shipyard delayed their shipments to later this fall. And the brand that pretty much owns the pumpkin brew market — Washington state’s Elysian Brewing — is reducing their weekend Great Pumpkin Beer Festival from two days to one this fall.
While we’re not always huge fans of pumpkin beers, they do deserve a spot at the autumnal table. For some recommendations, we suggest checking out our guide from the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival last year. And don't think you have to go mass market: As writer Sonja Groset noted, “If you have a favorite brewery, chances are you'll enjoy their seasonal offerings — like a pumpkin beer — as well. Seek out taps that aren't widely distributed or sold in bottles; the smaller the batch, the more unique the flavor tends to be.”