There is change in the air; both the real air (fall is coming) and the craft beer industry's air (changes on the horizon.) As the cooler air moves in, the fall seasonal brews are already on the shelves. All the fall colors are there, browns, oranges and reds. The fall seasonal brews are more robust and flavorful than their summer brethren; brews that taste great with hearty food beside a fire. After a fall day outside, these brews are 'feel good', tasty and will enhance any day.
As for the industry changes, the phenomenal growth continues with some new twists. Over the last year, several larger craft brewers have formed partnerships with different investor groups. This gives the brewery more capital to use for new equipment and market growth. These partnerships can be good for everyone. The major issue is, will the brewery retain its people and culture or is it just a commodity in a portfolio? These groups are investing for a reason and don't want to mess up a good thing, so they leave the original team and culture in place. Only time will tell how this will work out.
The brewery of the season is
of Petaluma, CA and Chicago, Ill. Lagunitas makes some great brews and many different styles. Some don't fit any particular style which accounts for the legions of fans. Take a look at their
and you will see what I mean. Lagunitas is a craft brewery that has grown into a nationwide brand and now wants to go global. Recently plans were announced that will involve a 50% partnership with Heineken which will give them instant access to worldwide markets. I'm not sure about the deal but if they leave Lagunitas alone, it may be the start of a world wide market for American craft brew. Here is
Lagunitas' take on the partnership
The style of the season is
Pumpkin Ale which is the all time favorite seasonal beer. The last time I was at my local bottle shop there were over 20 different breweries' Pumpkin offerings. The great thing about this variety (and craft beer in general) is that no two of these brews is the same. There are style guidelines but they are open to interpretation by each brewer.
It's fall, time to get outside and enjoy the season. Despite national and worldwide brands, some of the best brews are brewed locally. You can't get fresh beer from halfway around the globe; most European brands are 6 months old when you get them 'fresh' off the shelf. As autumn approaches, support local breweries whereever you are; you'll be glad you did!