July may have been the hottest month on record in the U.S. but that hasn’t stopped the traditionally cooler-weather crop of pumpkin beers from encroaching on the summer season.
According to Phillipsburg, N.J.-based Hunterdon Distributors, pumpkin beer sales set a record last month.
“Approximately 6100 cases and 200 kegs of this highly-coveted fall seasonal were shipped out to stores and bars during the month of July alone,” the company said in a release (below).
Shipments of pumpkin beer represented a 43.9 percent increase over July of last year for Hunterdon. Those releases include popular offerings like Smuttynose Pumpkin and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin. Other yet-to-be-released offerings in Hunterdon’s ‘pumpkin portfolio’ include coveted beers from Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, Rogue, Elysian and Sixpoint.
But the early release of the popular fall style hasn’t come without its critics. Some brewers and craft enthusiasts have expressed concern over the July release of pumpkin beers. Chris Lohring, the founder of Notch Brewing even penned a piece earlier this year entitled “The Death of Seasonal Beers.”
Today, Brewbound.com began receiving its first shipments of pumpkin beer samples from none other than the category leader, Boston Beer Company.
So we ask our readers, are fall and pumpkin beers being released too early?
PHILLIPSBURG, NJ – The calendar might say August but New Jersey beer drinkers are already thinking ahead to fall. Hunterdon Distributors has released several varieties of pumpkin beer in the past several weeks, creating a wave of enthusiasm among consumers throughout the state. Approximately 6100 cases and 200 kegs of this highly-coveted fall seasonal were shipped out to stores and bars during the month of July alone. This supply represents an extraordinary 43.9% increase over July 2011.
The pumpkin beer season for Hunterdon debuted on July 9th with the release of Fegley’s Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale. This release was followed by Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, Smuttynose Pumpkin and New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin in the subsequent weeks. Many of these styles sold out within twenty-four hours and all of them showed an impressive spike in sales from 2011 including a phenomenal 74% increase for Weyerbacher’s award-winning varietal.
While some beer enthusiasts around the country argue that July is too early for fall seasonals, Hunterdon sees tremendous demand in the New Jersey market.
“The growth of pumpkin beers continues to increase year after year and shows no signs of slowing down” says Hunterdon owner Michael Short. “Each year we are not only ordering larger quantities, but are also looking for new styles being introduced by our suppliers.”
August is already off to a great start with nearly all 2800 cases of River Horse Hippolantern and 150 cases of Terrapin Pumpkinfest selling out in one day. The season, however, is far from over. Between now and Labor day there are many more pumpkin brews scheduled for release including those from popular American brewers Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, Rogue, Epic, Schlafly, Hoppin’ Frog, Cisco, Elysian and Sixpoint.
About Hunterdon Distributors
Founded in 1996, Hunterdon has raised the bar for craft beverage availability and selection in the state by providing the most diverse and sought-after portfolio the market has to offer. The company currently represents over sixty domestic craft brands, hundreds of imports and a unique line of micro-distilled spirits, sakes, ciders and meads. Owners Mike Short and Dave Masterson continue to focus on bringing quality products to the New Jersey consumer.