I’ve kept this blog positive so far, but I’m going to take a one-time departure and vent about something I really hate. Hype. Hype is my least favorite part of the beer industry. It obfuscates beer quality and turns something that is supposed to be fun into a competition where it’s more about coveting beer and posting pictures than enjoying it.
Hype has been on my mind a lot lately, and I wish I could just ignore it. The dumbest thing is that the people that propagate hype often have the most unrefined palates. Last month I was drinking a gimmicky adjunct beer. It was absolutely horrendous, yet it’s Untappd ratings were through the roof, people waited hours for cans, and were giving up huge trades for it. I say this with all sincerity–I take no pleasure in saying a beer sucks, and it has to truly suck for me to say so. I also would never say that based on my own subjective tastes. This beer was pretty much undrinkable.
I saw a triple IPA being posted for trades recently. I had had the beer when it was six days old, and even then it had fallen off so badly it was a phenolic, sickly sweet mess, with the bottom of the can a solid layer of sludge. The poster said right up front the beer was 3 months old. People were offering huge trades for it.
These two examples are pretty harsh, so here’s a lesser example, but still a poignant one. I was drinking a sour last week that was pretty decent, except for a very slight twinge of isovaleric acid, a cheesy flavor that occurs in kettle-soured beers where unwanted bacteria took hold. The beer has a considerably higher rating on Untappd than our sour IPA.
And that’s what just kills me. Often times I compare our ratings to other hyped up beers that I have had, and I have a sneaking suspicion that in a blind taste test the same people rating that beer highly would prefer a beer I made in the same vein, or rate ours higher if we had more of a name attached.
I read Yelp reviews and the ones that really affect me are the ones that say “beer is pretty par for the course” or “nothing special.” That may sound incredibly thin-skinned, but I’ll tell you why that hurts me. I feel like it’s because we do beers like a light lager or fun styles like chili IPA. We offer 12 beers on tap–you want a hazy DIPA, we have one. I would put our imperial stouts up against most. Our fruited sours are killer. But not everything I make is going to be beer for beer geeks, and sometimes I think that it would almost make some people think we were better if we didn’t even have any lighter or less popular styles on tap, and instead offered 5 or 6 beers. It’s like having a light lager on actually makes us not as good a brewery in some eyes. Why? Would we be better if we didn’t even offer it?
I chose to try to offer the best taproom experience and give people a wide variety of styles. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I don’t think we’ll ever achieve any sort of hype. All I want to be is a good regional brewery, and I hope we can get that reputation.