I’ve been giving the phenomenon of hype a bit of thought lately. We see it everyday in our daily lives. You gotta get the new iPhone, the new Mini Cooper ;), that new blockbuster movie was awesome! We hear it so much we generally begin to ignore it in our every day lives, its just a part of the furniture. I can ignore hype as well as the next guy, except when it comes to something I really want. I know, that is like saying as long as I don’t care about something I can rise above the hype, but when it is something I like or even love, hype takes on a new meaning.
Take for example last week’s release of Canadian Breakfast Stout from Founder’s Brewery. The hype surrounding that release was pretty big. For a midwestern beer that no one (relatively speaking) had ever heard of before the hype was huge. But when can hype backfire? Certainly hype drives sales. I think Pliny has sold out in hours for the last several years, and Russian River keeps that hype going by making it a very limited release. But for my brother Jim, all the hype almost ruined that beer for him when he finally got a taste.
Sam Adams comes out with Utopias every other year in very small batches and at a very high price point. This beer seems to do well every time it is released. Again in Jim’s eyes it is one that lives up to the hype…but not enough for Jim to shell out the $200 for a bottle. I however loved Pliny, and thought it lived up to its billing, and Utopias..forget about it. That stuff is awesome.
So my question is can hype ruin a beer for you? Sometimes the hype around a beer can actually affect what your expectation for flavor is. Two examples of this for me are Foothills Brewing Company’s Sexual Chocolate, their Chocolate Stout, and 3 Floyds Dark Lord of the infamous Dark Lord Day. Both were good, but not as fantastic as I thought they would be. Did the hype impact the flavor? No. Did it raise my expectations to a point where it would be difficult for the brew to make good on them? Definitely.
I love beer, and when a good one comes out and it has some hype around it, I like anyone else (Excepting Zac Early, because he is impervious to hype) want to get a taste and would go to some measure to make that happen. That said, I’m pretty isolated out here in Idaho, so I am used to not tasting a lot of what I’d like.
How about you? Does Hype affect your taste buds? Do you give in to hype and get the latest greatest thing (lookin at you Jim, you Mini Cooper driven fool) for your beer cellar or electronic cache? Let me know your thoughts on hype as it relates to you.