I have had many conversations about the importance, or lack thereof, of seasonal brews. I admit I’ve had some downright horrible ones and wondered why they bothered not to mention the stain such a thing can leave on a brand. But on the other hand, I’ve had some dynamite ones that I almost wish I could get year round. My all time favorite seasonal beer is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/seasonal/celebration-ale. The funny thing is I like it so much I sort of enjoy the fact I can only get it during the winter holidays. It gives me something else to look forward to during the holiday season and lets admit, the extra 6.8% ABV is a nice bonus when dealing with family during the holidays.
I am also pretty fond of most of the summer seasonal brews, lighter crisper ales, pilsners, and lagers are just the ticket on hot summer days. One of my favorite summer beers was Pete’s Wicked Summer Ale. The label alone was brilliant, a baseball depiction of years gone by, ball players dressed in the uni’s of the 20’s and in a color scheme that was like black and white. If that doesn’t say days of summer I don’t know what does. I loved the beer too but alas it was discontinued and I haven’t seen a Pete’s on the west coast in a really long time.
The other advantage for a brewery is a chance to try some new things and create anticipation for seasonals that are a big hit. It’s a chance to steal a little market share during a particular season and a chance to introduce new potential customers to your brand. Of course be careful because a really bad one can do just the opposite.
As fall is approaching I’m already looking forward to seeing pumpkin and nut brown ales on the shelves where they haven’t been the rest of the year. So keep up the good seasonal work my brewing friends, but please leave the smoke out of the winter beers. Smoke is great on ribs, chicken, and pork, but not my thing in a beer.