Brew Review: How Oktoberfests ​Blur the Lines Between Summer & Fall​ Seasonal

The first Oktoberfest press release we received at Brewer Mag was July 26. In a conversation with a local brewery in Northwest Ohio, an owner told me a few years ago that his brewery was told by his distributor that if he wanted to grab sales for his Marzen, he would have to beat the national craft breweries to the punch to get shelf space, so they ramped up production to hit in a similar late-July/early August timeframe.

Oktoberfest beers used to signify the start of fall, with a general seasonal release date near the annual German celebration, which usually begins in mid-September until the first Sunday in October. Yet, as craft Lagers have become more popular and the competition for shelf space rises, “beating them to the punch” has become the norm, and August has become littered with promotions and releases of the “fall seasonal.”

It’s because it is a beer that can still be drunk in warm weather which makes it an accessible “crossover” seasonal to welcome in fall rather than celebrate it, it seems. It also has staying power (compared to say, Christmas or holiday-themed beers that have a limited timeframe).

“We see it as being more accessible for a longer period,” said Peter Cronin, Quality Manager for AleSmith. “[It’s} a perfect beer to round out the summer and get you ready for fall.”

​On July 29, the San Diego brewery announced its Oktoberfest, AleSchmidt, to be released two months earlier than previous years, bestowing lovers of the German-style lager more time to sip and savor their favorite limited-release brew.​

“Oktoberfest is one of our top performers in the portfolio​,” said David Berryhill, Vice President of Sales. ​”​In terms of volume, the brand has grown over 50% each year for the past three years. 2020 volume was over double 2018 volume. 

​”​This beer is always well received.”

Kristen Ballinger, ​the brewery’s ​Marketing Communications Manager​ said they have learned to release this earlier to get it into more markets including international markets which may take longer to hit shelves due to freight. 

​”​We also just really love this beer and style and are excited to have it sooner​,” she said.

So in your planning for 2022, feel free to bump up production releases of your Oktoberfest brand while planning for more sales for a longer period.

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