- Step 1: Make a really good beer.
- Step 2: Make a small amount of it.
- Step 3: Profit.
Viral Marketing with craft beer is in full swing as craft brewers don’t spend a dime traditional advertising. In the case of beer, the product must speak for itself, enough in fact, to let beer enthusiasts and social networking to do their bidding. Orange County is home to a couple cases of beer hype, with Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich, and The Bruery’s Black Tuesday. What exactly is beer hype? Follow along with a few examples.
Beer hype is a common practice with craft brewers nationwide as shown on Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” featuring Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA with a stalled fermentation. If you haven’t watched it, DFH’s 120 Min IPA is by far their biggest and most expensive beer to produce. They were forced to dump a whole tank. Beer nerds everywhere cried as they watched it go down the drain. The hype of the beer and it’s inability to be procured only throttled its value and made beer junkies want more. DFH recently shipped another batch, and as you can see on Twitter, it’s quite the pub draw.
Also speaking of Dogfish Head, their beer “Bitches Brew” (also featured on the Brew Masters show) instantly flew off shelves upon airing. Rancho Santa Margarita Selmas Tap Room bought a few cases, cellared them, and is currently selling bottles for $40. Fair game? Sure. Will people pay it? Yep. Will I? Hell the fuck no.
The Bruery’s Black Tuesday got the hype engine started this past week with a super secret Reserve Society email. Beer geeks got out their super secret decoder rings and got to work. I saw the news posted on five different sites. 750ML of 19.5% ABV? Hell, I’m going to join the reserve society, buy as many bottles as I can, resell them on ebay to pay for the reserve society subscription ($195 a year for 2011). With a shortage of such a big beer, why not break tradition and use smaller bottles? (ala Avery Mephisopheles) In this case, the hype ruins my experience as I’m not willing to spend the money to be in a beer club and I’m not willing to wait in huge line for the chance to get a taste. I sure as hell am not going to drop a Benjamin on eBay. I’m sure its delicious, but there are other remarkable beers I can walk my happy ass into a store today and buy with no lines or jacked up prices.
The last example I’ll use is Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, and hell, the Elder too. I’ve had the Elder on a few occasions and marvel at its deliciousness, never tried the Younger. The Younger is driving the hype-mobile to the extreme. Last month someone told me of a spot in fucking February 2012, at 7AM where you can get a pint of 2012 Pliny the Younger. At 7AM? I’m sure there will be people camping out overnight. I’ll let you know the location for $100.
I didn’t want to come off as if I’m whining about Beer Hype, as I’m not. I think it is good for the industry if the beers live up to it. It gets people talking. It creates a draw to the pubs that carry good beers. It helps viral marketing of the breweries. Chances are, you see other beers that these breweries put out and are sometimes more inclined to try something new that is widely available. The only real problem I have with it is I will never try these beers as I don’t have the time or money to invest getting them. Sour grapes on my part, and I’m only furthering the hype by hyping them more here.
I think Jimmy Fallon said it best (via Twitter): “Thank you, microbreweries, for making my alcoholism seem like a neat hobby.” And that is just it… baseball cards, comic books, stamps, coins, now beer. I’ll stick with the latter as it’s the most delicious. Cheers.