Don’t believe the hype or: The descent into beer madness … “The Session” Dec. 2012

flavor-flav with beer
King of hype men hyping a beer that needs no hype. Yeah boy.

session_logo_all_text_300There is something apparently romantic about the idea of being on stage, screaming, waving a towel in the air and pouring Cristal/water on women.

Or, at least, that’s what Flavor Flav has taught me … along with many ways to avoid poor life decisions.

In hip-hop or rap, the role of the hype man is pivotal: “A hype man is a figure who plays a central but supporting role within a group, making his own interventions, generally aimed at hyping up the crowd while also drawing attention to the words of the MC.” When it comes to beer, is the hype pivotal as well?

This is the essential question posed by David as part of this month’s “Session” blog post, where each month, a different beer blogger chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. This question is one that I think has become more and more prevalent in today’s industry – just look at the hype surrounding the novelty of beer

This is the future of hype.
This is the future of hype.

Liquor-strength beer bottled inside the carcass of a dead rodent dressed in a tuxedo. With a top hat. We have entered a time of a beer arms race, however it’s not always where the loudest wins. Hype can be a subtle thing, after all.

So what does this all mean? Warm up your vocal cords, grab a bottle of water and let’s hit the jump. Don’t forget to bring a towel.

Bell’s Hopslam deserves to be hyped.

Alaska Brewing’s smoked porter deserves to be hyped.

Rogue’s Voodoo Maple Ale, while worthy of an experience, doesn’t need to be hyped. It’s name, along with a bomber-sized pink bottle, does the job just fine. Or maybe is the hype.

When it comes down to it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so too is hype. It’s all subjective. As Nick has recently pointed out over on Drink. Blog. Repeat., hype can be a brutal or wonderful thing, especially when people can go a bit overboard when it comes to their beer. Granted, I’ve done a full-out sprint from work to catch a bottle of the nationally hyped Sexual Chocolate, so who am I to talk?

I suppose the takeaway is that hype will always be around and always force people to extremes. When I went to the Great American Beer Festival this year, the line for Cigar City was five minutes long:


When I went over to Mustang Brewing – which offered arguably my favorite brew of the festival – I walked right up and tried a few tastings. Hype is impactful. Hype can be treacherous. But lack of hype can be a wonderful thing, especially when you know it’s before the hype is set to begin.

Why? Because at a time when the American nano/micro beer industry is growing at an incredible rate, hype is what will help these businesses build their brand. While AB InBev tries to force feed Goose Island down the throats of beer drinking Americans, that neighborhood brewery down the street from you is doing some pretty wonderful things. The best part? More people are realizing this … and that hype that beers like Voodoo Maple Bacon ale don’t need, shows up with true passion for the small guy who’s making some really good beer:

Lanier noted that there have been multiple requests for interviews from major local media outlets that he’s refused.  The group takes immense pride in the fact that Tree House’s growing reputation has taken place almost entirely by word-of-mouth, social media, or by extension of their exclusive retail relationship with Cedar Street restaurant in Sturbridge.  Indeed, the brewery is packed with regulars and newcomers every Saturday.

Yes, we live in a time when hype has created a beer black market. But we also live in a time when hype among neighborhoods, communities and cities is spreading the gospel of craft beer like never before.

And that, my fellow beer drinkers, is something to get excited about.
+Bryan Roth


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