Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

NOVEMBER DISAPPEARS!  ENTIRE MONTH MISSING!

It was announced late last night the entire month of November has disappeared from this year’s calendar.

Analysts suggested the month may not actually have disappeared, but been absorbed into a 90 day “holiday season.” They claimed no days had technically been lost, but simply reclassified and the name “November” removed.

Historically, November had been the eleventh month of the year, traditionally between October and December on modern calendars. November was a month known for election days and the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Those observers favoring the absorption theory of November’s disappearance rely on the measurable acceleration of shopping activity at the end of each year. In the past, consumers spread their purchases more evenly with distinct periods of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas buying. More recently the three months have been consolidated into one spending season lasting 90 days.

The acceleration trend is particularly evident in regions where the weather consistently remains the same over the entire 90 days.

The loss of November has ramifications for many parts of our culture, including brewing and consuming craft beer.

Some experts view the consolidation of the year’s three final months as an attempt to affect statistics of beer consumption. It appears the creation of a 90 day holiday season may be designed to compete head-to-head with the popular “summer” beer drinking season.

Other brewing industry insiders see the effort differently. There appears to be a lull in seasonally specific flavored brews between the pumpkin-based brews of October and the more Christmas-oriented beers toward the end of the year.

The Thanksgiving holiday was seen as a flavor profile which was challenging to match. Most consumers did not resonate with turkey or stuffing flavored brews. Cranberry saisons were also a difficult sell.

It is thought the restructuring of three months into a “holiday season” is a way to ease the transition from summer beer consumption to the end of the year. It is also an apparent effort to distract attention from Thanksgiving into the other holidays in the season.

Whether you believe in the November/holiday season conspiracy or not, it is an excellent time of year for drinking craft beer. While there may not be many seasonally flavored beers specifically targeted for this month, there are excellent choices for Thanksgiving dinner.

Whether you experience Thanksgiving Day as the day before Black Friday, a daylong football festival, or a holiday with celebrations all its own, it is likely you will taste turkey in some form this month. I am an advocate of trying as many different turkey and beer combinations as possible to find what you like best. The choices can be a little overwhelming, so a few ideas to get started:

For a traditional turkey, with stuffing and cranberry sauce, I would suggest an amber ale, a brown ale, or a strong golden ale like a Belgian trippel.

Some of us prefer smoking our Thanksgiving turkey. For a smoked turkey I suggest  beer with a stronger flavor such as a hoppier brown ale, a Scotch ale, or a porter.

For example

  • Alesmith Brewing Company in San Diego also brews several versions of their Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, including brews aged in port barrels and bourbon barrels.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Buellton brews Bravo Imperial Brown Ale.
  • I am a serious fan of Stone Smoked Porter brewed by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido. While it is an excellent place to begin exploring the world of porters, many breweries are increasing their production of porters this time of year. Take the opportunity to discover what is out there right now.

This month is more than merely the next step into the holiday shopping season. Take advantage of the lack of “seasonally flavored” beers and find something which complements the food on your table.

Enjoy the exploration, and have a meaningful “holiday season,” no matter what month it is on the calendar.

Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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