Session #70: Don’t Believe the Hype

This month’s Session is hosted by Mr David J. He’s asked:

  • Which beers do you think have been overhyped?
  • How do you feel when a beer doesn’t live up to it’s hype?
  • Is hype a good or bad thing for beer?

There are two kinds of hype, as we see it. First, there’s the organic variety whereby a ‘buzz’ spreads by word of mouth, online, and (less so these days) in books and magazines: “You have to try this beer!” Then there’s hype ‘got up’ by breweries and their PR people restricting supply, designing fancy packaging and ‘generating debate’ (being annoying).

The first type seems to follow a wave pattern:

  1. This beer is pretty good.
  2. He said the beer was pretty good and boy was he right!
  3. Everyone is talking about how great this beer is! It’s this year’s must-drink!
  4. Meh. Given the hype, this beer wasn’t as great as I was expecting.
  5. This beer is famously overrated.
  6. This beer is shite.
  7. Actually, I really liked it… I thought it was pretty good.

And so on.

As we may have mentioned once or twice, being swayed by extraneous factors (the company you’re in, branding, context) doesn’t make you a mug or a sap, just human. But it is worth calibrating your tastebuds against your prejudices with a blind-tasting every once in a while, as it might turn out the beer you think you like best is the one you enjoy least.

We’ve not felt post-hype disappointment very often, as it happens. We’re too lazy and tight-fisted to chase limited edition, mail-order-only, numbered-sequence beers; and we know whose opinions we trust when it comes to recommendations.

Wait… or maybe we’re just huge suckers who will always enjoy a beer if its been hyped enough?