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The Fusion of Hops and Heads

Craft Beer Industry and Craft Brewery News

Seasonal Creep and Other Craft Beer Buzz Kills

Nothing slakes that late summer thirst when you're relaxing on a beach, camping near a lake, or just grilling on your deck, like a tall, frosty, malty glass of Pumpkin beer. Are you serious craft beer community? Seasonal creep gives me the seasonal creeps. Despite many bemoaning the short summer season here in New England, we’re already witnessing beers packed with sugary pumpkin additives and Oktoberfest-shoved piles in stores. If the sight of pumpkins and Märzens sitting next to lemon shandies and beergaritas looks strange, it’s not from drinking too much.

pumpkin beerSeasonal Creeps

While I was drinking in New York City, a sizable regional brewery had already struck with case stacks of pumpkin beers on the shelf. Really craft beer, is that how we’re going to do it? It's mid-August, and we're talking about Pumpkin beer. Is there even any fresh pumpkin in this beer or is it just flavoring or some preserves from who knows where, jammed into the mash to get beer out as fast as possible? Is this season’s crop of pumpkins even orange yet? This new trend in beer is alarming, and an obvious tell as to where things are headed within the industry.

avery-littigationLibation Litigation

The same can be said for all the recent litigation between breweries suing each other over labels and name trademarks. I understand that an organization has to protect its intellectual property, but suing and sending cease and desist letters to breweries seems as popular as session IPAs, IPLs, and being the first brewery to draw blood on an up-and-coming fall beer. Seasonal creep is a byproduct of the same ugly influence...money. Yes, money makes the world go round and very little gets done without it. Hell, I'm drowning in college debt, credit card loans, and pinching pennies everywhere I can, on account of stagnant wages and increased cost of living, so I get it that money is important these days. But there's a real ugly side of the industry revealing itself right now.

Paradise Lost?

Sure there are plenty of breweries that still keep the faith alive and do what's right, but I have for several years now taken pictures of New England summer variety packs in giant snow banks before the official start of spring has even begun. Articles have been written about how the era of genuine "extreme" brewing is behind us, and despite constant releases of beers brewed with the latest gimmick, it appears that the heady days of innocence are fading away.

buzz-killington-stopping-the-buzz-killIs It Really Nobody’s Fault?

What's even worse is that we as a culture, from store owners to suppliers and even consumers, seem to roll over and take it, saying "hey I agree with you, I don't like it either, but if the competition is doing it, then we have to too." What a complete cop out. If that's the case, why buck the trend on anything? We might as well collectively just lead and follow each other by the nose and go in a slow, plodding circle until we’re back to drinking beer from the dark ages of the 60s and 70s.

Stop The Madness Now

We need to put our collective foot down somewhere; enough is enough. What better place than here, what better time than now?

Otherwise, why not just make every seasonal beer available at all times? Then we can celebrate Christmas with fireworks, pumpkins, and wear pilgrim outfits with American flag bathing suits drinking green beer.

Happy August everyone, & enjoy your Winter Warmer!

JAMESON VIENS – NEW ENGLAND CORRESPONDENT
August 21, 2014
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