And when we say now, we mean right now. Or at least in the next month or two, because we just learned the hard way that “better late than never” doesn’t apply to seasonal beers. Sometimes late just means never.
By never, we mean never this year. Last November, we were easily able to score our pick of the great pumpkin brews that are only available in autumn. Everywhere we looked—grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations, even drugstores—there were plenty of pumpkin brews just waiting to be picked.
Fast forward to November 2017 when, expecting the same great selection of as last year, we armed ourselves with a list ranging from tried-and-true to brand new pumpkin ales and went shopping. But lo and behold, after visiting more than a few stores, we weren’t able to find a single one.
Where the #$&@ did all the pumpkins go?
We wisely turned to Beach Liquors’ craft brew guru Patrick Maus— officially known as the “assistant manager”—for answers. He explained that last year, area merchants zealously ordered ample amounts of pumpkin brews to ensure the heavy demand for them was met. But they unintentionally ended up with unsold pumpkin brews well into February.
And they found out that as much as hopheads love to guzzle the great gourds in autumn, they lose interest when spring is just around the corner. Instead of spicy and rich, brew bros and sistas begin to fancy lighter, summery brews like fruity shandies, crisp witbiers and mild IPAs. In other words, retailers got stuck holding what had become hard-to-sell inventory. This year, they ensured that wouldn’t happen by ordering less.
It may be that the great pumpkin trend is waning just a little. If it is, it’s definitely not an indicator of the overall craft beer movement, which continues to gain momentum. And that’s why, even though we weren’t able to make our pumpkin haul, we were able to get our hands on some new-to-us winter beers recommended by Patrick, which reflect some of the hottest trends in cold beer right now.
And, scout’s honor, every one of the brews he suggested proved to be just as good as he promised.
Funky Buddha Last Snow. Coconut has been a strong food trend for more than a few years now. So, it came as no surprise that Patrick’s top recommendation was a coconut beer, Last Snow. Not only did Funky miraculously find a way to infuse the yummiest attributes of an Almond Joy bar into this porter, they wisely balanced its sweetness. After all, it’s not supposed to be candy in a glass. But it is every bit as delicious.
What makes this beer is its unmissable coconut flavor, sweetened with a rich, caramelly malt and finished with decadent coffee and chocolate notes. Despite its richness and a fairly hefty ABV of 6.4 percent, Last Snow is incredibly easy to drink, mostly because it’s incredibly delicious.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk. Good gourd, Dragon’s Milk was so good it made us forget all about our beloved pumpkin brews. But you know how we love a good stout. And this one has a buzz-worthy ABV of 11 percent. Pumpkin? What pumpkin?
You sure won’t find any in this brew. But you will find a prominent taste of bourbon, as well as smoky espresso, roasted sugar and a smooch of creamy vanilla. If you’re a whiskey lover, the barrel-aged Dragon’s Milk is a must try. Potent and robust and brimming with belly warming flavor notes, this is the perfect wintertime brew to have around.
So is Stone Brewing’s Xocoveza, a hearty Mexican chocolate stout that even when served cold will warm you up from your tippie-top to your tootsies, thanks to a subtle hit of pasilla peppers and a not-sosubtle ABV just over 8 percent. See why we love us some stouts? They’re typically packing authentically rich infusions of flavor. And a buzz. What more could you ask from a brew?
Actually, we can think of more. And that’s price, as in affordable. Affordability is one big reason why Beach Liquors has consistently remained on our go-to list. They usually have the best prices in town, and if they don’t, they’ll price match competitors.
Another reason we keep coming back is their events, like the fun and informative Friday evening beer and wine tasting soirees, run year round. Same for their in-house bar that offers a choice of 14 draft brews daily from 1 to 6 p.m.
Most importantly, if you ever need help finding or choosing your brews— or any other type of liquor—the staff is always at the ready with info and suggestions. To a beer writer about to miss a deadline, that kind of assistance scores big brownie points, as well as more than a few years of well earned repeat business.