Beer list by season • Craft Beer Restaurant Reference Library


Most people are at least vaguely aware that certain beers are offered only seasonally. Summer beers, Octoberfest beers and Christmas beers are some of the more common and well-known examples. Taken as a group, seasonal beers can be considered the most popular craft beer style.

Today, the offering of special seasonal beers by American, Belgian and German brewers has grown to the point that seasonals are now a viable strategy for overall beer list organization. Restaurants can use this seasonal beer variety to their advantage.

For any restaurant, seasonal organization is certainly an important list development technique. It is used to:

  1. provide some rational variety to your regular rotating beer slots;

  2. provide the complementary flavors of the season which are great to pair with seasonal foods;

  3. encourage more impulse sales due to the “drink it now while its at its freshest”  or “drink it now because it’s only available for a short time” type of thinking.

If your restaurant menu changes with the season, so should your beer list. If your restaurant completely changes out your menu from season to season, you are a good candidate for a completely seasonal beer list. A sufficient variety of seasonal beers are available in most major markets to allow you to substantially change out your beer list each season.

In deference to food pairing, certain beers will likely need to included on the list, even though they may seem out of season. For example, a Pilsner in the winter to pair with salads or a richly-flavored brown beer in summer to pair with dark, spicy barbecued meats, if those kind of items are on the menu. In some cases a seasonal change out simply affords the opportunity to pick a nice new offering even if the beer style is the same as the one it replaces,

Seasonal beers are the perfect inspiration for some special food menu items. Taking a big spicy winter beer and using it as an ingredient in an infusion, sauce or marinade could be the basis of a real crowd pleaser when that entree is then paired with the same beer.

In summary, changing some or even all of your beers each season helps maintain customer interest in your beers and creates intriguing possibilities for the chef to create beautiful pairings with seasonal cuisine.

Beers with Seasonal Affinities


Darker strong ales, barley wine, spiced beers, bocks, doppelbocks, stouts, imperial stouts, robust porters, and weizenbock


Red ale, Maibocks, Marzens, dry stout, abbey beers, Biere de Mars


Helles; Kolsch; German-style pils; saison; wheat beers; fruit-flavored wheat beers; pale, amber & blonde ales; citrusy-hopped ales


Oktoberfest, fresh hop ales, big IPAs, pumpkin beers, barrel-aged beers fermented on fruit, smoked malt beers, dunkelweizen.


Organizing a Beer List by the Season

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