Pumpkin, the King of Fall Beers

In my opinion, you can never have too many pumpkin things.

This is one of the reasons I love fall so much. It’s not just about the pumpkin pies and cookies – it’s about the seasonal pumpkin beers, too. With summer finally ending and fall taking over, I’m excited to see what new seasonal beers start showing up on the shelves here in Las Vegas.

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Photo Credit: Adam Barhan

To me, trying new beers is simply fun, especially during the fall when the seasonal choices and variations seem to surge. In fact, fall seasonal craft beers are increasing in popularity each year, rising to $530 million in sales in 2013, up 15 percent from 2012.

Why are fall seasonal beers are so much more popular than any spring or summer brews? What is it about pumpkins that makes their beers such a big hit? According to Brewers Association Program Director Julia Herz, “There’s something very nostalgic and comforting to pumpkin beers, to me, above all other seasonals.”

I feel the same way. Pumpkin beers remind me of Halloween and the holiday season in general, which to me is the happiest, most enjoyable time of the year. I can say for a fact that I’ve never sat outside on a nice October or November evening and thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait for summer and all of the delicious brews it has to offer.” That probably has to do with the fact that I’m in Las Vegas and 110-degree summers in Vegas aren’t exactly enjoyable, but still – no one says that.

A study performed by the Brewers Association came up with the graph below, which shows Google searches of all four seasonal beers (‘winter beer’ + ‘spring beer’ + ‘summer beer’ + ‘fall beer’) versus searches for ‘pumpkin beer’ alone. It doesn’t matter where you’re searching from, the fact remains that pumpkin beers are more popular than any other seasonal beer by far.

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This growing popularity and its correlated rise in sales has increased the competition, leading brewers to try to get their pumpkin beers in stores before others. Pumpkin beers are now hitting the shelves as early as August, as a recent trip to the grocery store showed me.

Yet despite their rise in popularity, not everyone loves pumpkin beers. If you happen to be one of those people who would rather not drink ales made from the most wonderful of vegetables, plenty of other fall beer options exist just for you. In his article 5 Great Fall Beers for the Pumpkin Beer Hater, Mike Reis recommends a variety of great non-pumpkin fall alternatives, such as Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, Alesmith Nut Brown Ale, Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, Founders Harvest Ale and many more.

So whether you choose to enjoy the pumpkin ales, opt for other great seasonal options, or even if you don’t drink any beer at all this season, fall is here – and that’s something I think we can all be happy about.