Even though fall has just officially began, many familiar autumn products have been on the shelves for what seems like quite some time. From flannel and sweaters to pumpkin everything, many consumers suspect fall trends make their way earlier and earlier each year. However, this is more than speculation as some fall products have indeed joined in on extra early releases. For example, this year Southern Tier Brewing Company released the popular imperial pumpkin ale, Pumking, as early as July.
Pumpkin beers, like their warm and caffeinated cousin the Pumpkin Spice Latte, tend to be a love it or hate it product. However, in spite of pumpkin beer’s polarity, there’s no denying the significance of its market presence. In 2013, according to Craft Brewing Business, pumpkin beer sales turned a 125,000 lag in case sales into a 300,000 case surplus. Each year, more and more craft breweries offer up a pumpkin beer for their fall line ups to meet the consumer demand. BeerAdvocate currently has over 900 different pumpkin beers listed on their website, many with delightfully punny names.
Additionally, interest and demand in pumpkin beers also has an earlier start in the year and only shows signs of increasing. According to Brewers Association research, Google searches for “pumpkin beer” in 2014 edged out searches for all other seasonal beers and even outsold the reigning craft champion style, the IPA, in the fall.
As pumpkin beer interest and sales continue to expand past a narrow and arbitrary association with October and Halloween, it will be interesting to see how it influences consumers’ perceptions of craft and seasonal beers. Will beer drinkers accept pumpkin beer in July or year round with open pint glasses or meet it with a raised brow?
For more information on consumers’ seasonal thirst for other pumpkin products, check out the latest report from Neilson here. For a more in-depth look at craft beer in North Carolina, read last year’s W5 blog post here.