Friday, December 7, 2012

The Session #70- Beating the Hype

This month’s edition of The Session is brought to us by thefine makers of Good Morning…  TheQuestion at hand deals with Hype that surrounds a beer:

How much does hype have an effect? Are we much better off knowing nothing about a beer, or is it better to have the knowledge as to what the best beers are?

Which beers do you think have been overhyped? How do you feel when a beerdoesn’t live up to its hype.
Is hype a good or bad thing for beer? Tell me what you think. I’m lookingforward to seeing what the general consensus is. 

This question came to their mind after partaking inWestvleteren 12 (otherwise known as Westy 12, one of the top rated beers in the world- which also is one of the hardest beers to get ahold of).

When looking back at the beers that I have drank, I feel fortunate to be able to say that I have had some beers that are hard to come by: Westy 8 and 12, Brewdog Abstrakt series, Troegs Splinter series, rare Belgians at Max’sBelgian Fest, etc. Before drinking the beer, I try to eliminate all possible expectations and premonitions. I want to taste the beer for what it is.  But I find that hard to do.

At times, I have been fooled, spent way too much on a beer,and didn’t enjoy it.  Other times, the beer lived up to its billing and made me glad to pay the price. But what I have found was more often than not, the beer would be good, not blow my socks off, but worthy of a drink, but maybe priced slightly higher than I would have thought. (I feel pricing of beer is probably the hardest thing do it,especially since palates and preferences change from person to person. And the vast variety of factors that can increase the price.)

Hype is a powerful motivating factor. Every year, around February, Troeg’s Nugget Nectar gets hyped up. I feel Nugget Nectar fulfills every need and want for hops in an amber ale, but to each their own. I have no problem shipping some down to Florida (get trade in exchange for some CigarCity), because I know the recipient will not be disappointed.  This is where hype can be a good thing.

There is a time when I think hype becomes a villain.  When Dogfish Head was featured on Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters tv show, I felt they were deserving of the recognition. I liked almost all of their beers, and would always recommend their beers to others.  People started  buying up 60 Minute IPA like crazy, because they saw it on the show (which is normally good). But to the non-IPA drinker, this microbrew was “undrinkable”. And I specifically remember that word being used many times from friends who still bought cases of Miller Lite. They thought that since Miller was triple hopped, they would like DFH too. I urged them to try a different beer later, but they refused due to the last experience. I blame it on my inability to educate them on styles, but in their head , they had one everlasting thought of “expensive stuff”.

Below is a list of beers that I have let myself hype up, and then be disappointed, followed by a list that was hyped up, and lived up to its billing:

Over Hyped:

He’Brew Jewbilation 13 Bar Mitzvah- While not a overhyped beer in the beer community, I thought it was going to be unique, and would be a great beer. My beer guy said he loved it and so I began hyping it up in my head. I was wrong. I felt it was way too overspiced and I struggled to finish it.

Bell’s Hopslam- I really like this beer. It is delicious,but such a pain to get a bottle of. And when I do, I prefer Nugget Nectar(which is also easy to get- for me).  The bars place Hopslam on a pedestal, price it high and it turns into an overpriced good beer.

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout and 120 Minute IPA- the hypetrain on these exploded with Brew Masters. People saw the ABV and though, this is the best thing ever. Again a beer that was hard to find for a year, but won’t blow your mind. It is good, yes. Am I going to go bonkers when I see it, no. I will take a Brewdog Tokyo if I want a super high ABV stout, or a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot barleywine if I want a big IPA.

Lived up to its billing:

Troegs Nugget Nectar- I was beginning to really get intoIPAs  when this beer showed up on tap. I seemed to always order Troegs, and when it was placed in front of me, I could already smell it. It drew me in and I cannot get enough. It is the best.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot- While this beer is a good beer fresh, I was told to hold on to a couple, so I stored them in my basement. It was a year of anticipation, building the hype in my head day after day. Finally, when I popped one open, I could see why I was told to wait. The beer transforms in to one of the most drinkable beers at 9% abv. It is so dangerously drinkable, I make sure to warn my friends.

Brewdog Tokyo*- I was told this beer was delicious, and that I would want more. I didn’t believe them. It was handed to me, and I was unaware of what it was. I drank the 10 oz pour in 10 minutes or so. Not chugging, but definitely faster than I ever drink. This beer tastes like it is 6%. It was not. (It was 18.2%.) Needless to say, I only had one, and then a glass of water or two.

Westy 8/12- My brother didn’t know of the hype on these beers. He is a huge Belgian fan (of the beers he can actually buy) and was blown away (he liked the 8 more than the 12). I too was taken back. I know St. Bernardus might be “just as good”, but they each have their own nuances that puts Westy over the top. So glad I was able to apprehend some without having to swim the Atlantic.

I would like to reiterate that lists like this are completely personal preference, as you may hate Nugget Nectar and love HopSlam.That is a great tradeoff, you drink my HS, I’ll drink your NN. 

There are a few breweries that I am setting myself up for disappointment. My early acknowledgement of this may help me enjoy the beers more, or I will succome to disappointment and only drink BMC afterwards.  These breweries that I have not been able to drink yet are Russian River, New Glarius, Ninkasi , Jester King, and Hill Farmstead. I look forward to one day drinking their beers, but worry that my anticipation will hype me out of getting a clear read on the beer.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting,. great article. You know I'm going to have to try this now... haha
    Awesome... keep up the great work.

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