Last month on August 8, 2015 Pateros Creek released its Mexican Lager “Pancho Lefty” in celebration of Cinco De Mayo. We will have it available until November, when we will release City Park Lager in honor of Independence Day. Coincidently, we still have City Park available from the 7/4/2015 celebration, which was released Dec. 25, 2014. Also, don’t forget about Owl Canyon. It’s our tri-annual pumpkin ale, which we release three times per year, but all those releases fall on the same day, Nov. 1, to capitalize on the early market demand for the latest seasonal something-or-other.
Here’s a few other beers you might want to know about
Oktoberfest beers in August. Pumpkin beers in July. Christmas Ale in October. Summer ale on St. Patrick’s Day? Peach Ale in JANUARY 1!!!
I write this blog….occasionally….to be fun and witty. It’s an opportunity for you to stop looking at porn and get a glimpse into my
porn world. I promise that I won’t
turn my shitty blog into a bitchy outlet for drunken, disgruntled emotions, but
I felt I had to throw a few pennies on top of the thousands of others that
complain about the increasingly earlier releases of what should be seasonal
beers. In that respect I hope that I can
shed a little light on what it means for the industry, how we got to this
situation, and what we can do about it.
My background, before brewing, was cooking. I worked in a handful of very high end restaurants. Places that wouldn’t have let me in the door if I they weren’t paying me to work for them. (Kinda like a $5 hooker) Now, I’m a great cook. Not the best in the country, but firmly in the top 90th percentile….I mean, at least 85th. 75th at the lowest, that’s my final offer. Anyway, I’m better than 94.625 % of people that might read this. One of the things I loved most was walking through the farmer’s market on 14th st. in NYC at 6 in the morning. A lot of the Sous Chefs, some Exec. Chefs, and a handful of ass-kissing cooks would be queuing up around the tomato guy or the pepper chick (she was hot…get it?). We would rip through their tables looking for the best of the best produce. These were veggies that were still warm from being picked that morning, had never met a refrigerator, and would often leave us with our hands covered in dirt and the occasional worm or ladybug hanging on for dear life. There’s something a little awe inspiring about watching a ladybug crawl up your chef whites and fly away as the sun comes up over the Manhattan skyline and glints off the empty Old Crow whiskey bottle shattered beneath the bum sleeping it off on the bench at the edge of the market. (Hemingway would love that sentence) My point is…
…oh yeah, that shit was fresh, yo!
We would often make up recipes on the spot. These Collard greens are getting braised in bourbon and piled under the 2 bone, Nyman ranch, 12 oz pork chop, with a few grilled peaches thrown over it for good measure and sauced with a cranberry demi. (90th percentile, definitely) I guess what I’m trying to convey, is that the goal of cooking like that was to create the best possible dish right now! We weren’t trying to capitalize on the consumer’s idea of when to eat pumpkins, we were dictating to them that pumpkin season was when the pumpkins were fucking ready. We were like Mother Nature, with a big ass knife. You eat what I tell you to eat, when I fucking say so.
I guess I thought that the brewing industry I work in, with its high and mighty ideal of being “craft”, would follow a similar path. I still think some if it does. However, I think the larger breweries have gone the Starbucks route and look at the maximum possible profits from releasing Pumpkin Latte as soon as the Fourth of July fireworks die down. I can piss and moan about it, but it does make some sense from a fiscal perspective. A business isn’t in business to be your friend. It’s there to make money, provide a stable income for its employees, and make a return for the investors. If you’re stupid enough to pay $10 for a 4-pack of Pumpking in July, well….a fool and his money, dot, dot, dot. I guess that my concern is that I believe that my beer should be held to the highest standard of perfection. That’s how I learned to cook. Perfect was never perfect enough, fresh was never fresh enough, and it wasn’t really seasonal unless you grew it yourself, picked it 10 minutes before it hit the sauté pan, and served it to some rich asshole for $65 a plate. A little hyperbole, but not really that much. I thought that would be a staple of craft beer too. What I found is that we all need to make $$$. And if I can put a pumpkin beer on the shelves in July, made with real pumpkin spices, and you’ll buy it, well why the fuck wouldn’t I do it? But,what do I lose when I do that. Integrity I guess. It’s the start of that long slippery slope that leads to putting so much rice in a light lager that it can’t legally be called beer in Germany and suing a small company over the name “Queen of Beers”.
The problem is that this isn’t a new trend. It’s been going on for over one hundred years. Beginning with the discovery and industrialization of cellaring, and the popularization of refrigeration, people have been altering when beers are available. In the beginning you could only brew when the weather permitted, specifically spring and fall, but also winter, depending on the climate. These limitations helped develop certain styles like saisons, which would be brewed in the spring when the weather would cooperate and be served in the summer when you couldn’t brew. The industrial revolution brought us cold storage on a mass scale and allowed for brewing year round. There are breweries now that are dedicated to brewing primarily saisons. All beers, due to the limitations of the maltsters, used to be smoky until the technology was invented to remove wood as a necessary ingredient in fire. A good maltster would manipulate what type or blend of wood he would roast the barley over, to produce specific flavors. Sour beers were a staple until the techniques for sanitation were introduced. Technology has always been an influence in the trends in brewing, but does that mean we should tolerate companies producing a beer made with canned pumpkin in July? (I actually wanted to say May or April there to emphasize the absurdity, but seriously…July is fucking ridiculous.)
So what can you do about it? Just stop drinking that shit! That’s it. Consumers are like voters, the smarter and more informed you are the more effective you can be in influencing the world around you. Drinking pumpkin beer in July is like voting for Trump because you keep hearing his name on the radio. Just fucking ignorant. (sigh)
Well, it took me two beers to write this, and I used that shitty toupee wearing asshat in an analogy. I’m going to have another and I’ll leave you with this. Drinking out of season beers is something I believe depreciates the values that the craft beer movement grew up on. It’s capitalism at in its most basic form, trying to see how much money they can fleece you for. It also numbs your palate and your appreciation for some of the amazing beers that are true to the ebbs and flows of the seasons. I’d like to believe that we’re better than that.