As the time for summer beers comes to a close, I can’t help but recognize what I’m sure happens to every avid beer consumer: leftovers. This year, even more than last, I have seen quite a few people talking about how the Okoberfests and Pumpkin beers are hitting the shelves far too early. Have no fear, I’m not here to dispute that at all, but I find myself running into a different problem. I buy them even if I think it’s too early for them. If you’re like me, you can’t help but purchase newer things that come out. Just this past week I got a message that my beer store got in Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin and Hoppin’ Frog Double Pumpkin. This is on top of the Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest I bought and Schlafly Pumpkin I passed up on last week. Somehow the start of August became the start of Fall.
While I’m happy to take in all the fall offerings I can get my hands on, I can’t help but think about the summer beers I have laying around that I may now neglect. My beer shelves and fridge become the land of misfit beers. Having an unquenchable thirst for new and exciting beers, I find that beers that have already sat around for a few weeks wind up at the back of the shelf and forgotten about. It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s just that they are forgotten and lose the prime spot on the shelf. This happens the most with my 4 or 6 packs I purchase. How do I keep my shelf from becoming a display of what’s hot and what’s not? I submit to you examples from last winter of how beers can suffer from the introduction of a new season of beers too early.
I imagine there is one beer from my three example of leftovers that may have a few people up in arms. Troegs’ Mad Elf is a beer I know many seek out when the winter season arrives. I have even heard of people who stock pile it. How then is it that this bottle has been in my possession for nearly a year? I know some of you will claim you have one in your cellar, but I have intended to do no such thing. It has simply sat on the shelf for nearly a year waiting for the return of the holiday season. This next one isn’t really my fault. Pyramid Brewing Co’s Winter Warmer was given to me by my brother this past spring. I was happy to receive it, but he was still capable of purchasing it in the spring. I put it aside thinking I might consume it in the near future. It has however collected dust over the past few months eagerly anticipating the day it would serve its purpose. The final beer I have is also not my fault. My wife decided to reward me with beer for assisting her in setting up her classroom for this school year. Arriving at the store, I saw a bin that said sale beers. Intrigued I looked in and found a bottle of Uinta Brewing Co’s Yard Sale winter lager for $1. It wasn’t the only beer in the bin, but it was certainly the saddest looking bottle out of the entire collection. It reminded me of the runt of the litter. Somebody had to give that beer a home. I quickly grabbed it and brought it home to introduce to its fellow beer brothers and sisters. Having only purchased it in July, I don’t feel terribly awful at not having consumed it yet, but I may kick off the winter season with it as a way of pledging to not allow any winter beers to sit through all the seasons again.
I can already see my next batch of misfit beers developing with the arrival of these premature beers. Why would I continue to drink the summer ales, saisons, and lighter belgian beers I’ve accumulated over the summer when there are newer beers arriving. I’ve consumed those lighter ales all summer, and I know the flavor profile I expect to get out of them. Perhaps it’s time to delve into the maltier beers the fall brings on. While these thoughts run through my mind, I know I can’t allow more beers to be relegated to the back of my shelf till the next summer season.
Therefore, let’s do our best to leave no beer behind this summer. Before the first leaves falls, before you pick your first pumpkin, or before you warm up some apple cider on a cool autumn evening, make sure you’ve polished off your summer collection. Only you can prevent the ever increasing quantity of misfit beers.