Image via anaxolotl (CC License)
The crisp air. The long sleeves. The return of those small, noisy humans on your morning bus commute (do kids not walk to school anymore?). It must be pumpkin beer season.
And Pumpkin Beers Matter.
You may think that they are unworthy of such attention. Well, let’s see your favorite craft brewery try and survive without it. They spend four months of their brewing calendar producing one beer, just to satiate a thirsty public’s one month demand, and in the process, the breweries reap enough funds to experiment with other citra-hopped DIPA 7oz flutes of niche-weirdness.
You don’t like seeing pumpkin beers on the shelves in August? While that can be a little tough to defend, I will say that during the month of August, Chicago saw some legitimate fall weather. You know that Sting song ‘All Four Seasons in One Day”? He wrote that while on a two hour layover at O’Hare. (Sidenote: 2015 additionally presented us with the wettest June on record, while I was also sunburnt in March.)
Another reason that pumpkin beers matter is that they help craft beer reach into new markets. Look, there are two people at the bar. One is drinking a macro lite beer. The other a pumpkin beer. See how much more attractive that person is? The fact is that it is very easy for a beer drinker of any experience to sample something pumpkin-ish. They are accessible, and for the most part, non-offensive to a new palate. By scooping up previously vague beer drinkers, it helps pique an interest and create some future craft fans to further fuel this revolution. We all transitioned into craft beer somehow.
Besides, what else are you going to drink in October? It’s far too early for the thick chocolatey stouts of winter, which I must add, also seem absurd after a summer of drinking radlers and other sessionables. Speaking of which, the brew you’ve been drinking all summer long doesn’t taste the same outside of a 90 degree afternoon of grilling. We need something with flavor, malt, character, but short of anything so robust that you can almost stand a spoon in it. Welcome, pumpkin beers. Kick off your shoes and stay a while.
Yes, the pumpkin ‘fad’ has been around a while for some of us seasoned beer geeks, but that too is just fine. Why do people like pumpkin-influenced-everything in the first place? The short answer: nostalgia for a simpler time. A slightly longer and pumpkin-y-er one: “It represents a sense of goodness, natural abundance and old values that people think are good,” says Cindy Ott, author of a book about pumpkin (how’s that for authority.)
But there’s more than that. It tastes like fresh air. Like a cardigan you’ve not worn for a while. Like the absence of pollen allergies. Like brown leaves. Like less people at your favorite park. Like you can stop sweating each time you pass from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned vehicle. Like Autumn is a season to be savored, and not simply overlooked as a countdown to Christmas.
So crack one open, ignore the ever-encroaching seasonal creep, and embrace the simplicity of life.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes are still ridiculous, of course.