@BoakandBailey in other words:
People like it (hype), I'm not sold.
Not got high expectations, I love it!
Hipster school of thought, no?
— Sarah Warman (@sarahfwarman) December 7, 2014
When BrewDog’s Sarah Warman asked the question above in relation to hype, it got us thinking, because the hipster school of thought (insofar as it really exists) is a slippery beast.
The term ‘hipster’ was invented in the 1940s but has really gained popularity in the last decade as it has come to encapsulate a certain attitude to culture and fashion, as expressed in this example of the ‘hipster barista’ internet meme:
A hipster, in this context, is someone who pointedly refuses to consume anything mainstream. If there’s something you like, they liked it first, and now don’t like it, largely because you like it. They might also enjoy things ‘ironically’ — ‘This obscure charity shop easy listening album is so bad its good.’
Where it gets confusing is that there are layers of hipsterdom:
- Classic Hipster reviles Band1 because they’re mainstream.
- But within hipsterdom, that makes Band1 non-mainstream.
- So the even-cooler Super Hipster is inclined to like Band1.
Let’s relate this to beer.
John Smith’s Smooth is mainstream so the Classic Hipster despises it and drinks beer from a brewery you’ve probably never heard of, i.e. an obscure craft beer. But, as craft beer becomes increasingly mainstream, the Classic Hipster begins to feel a creeping disgust until, suddenly, CLASSIC HIPSTER HATES CRAFT BEER. But Classic Hipster can’t drink John Smith’s, because that is also mainstream, so Classic Hipster turns to… what? Turkish Whisky? Oxygen canisters? If we knew the answer to this, we’d be cool.
Meanwhile, Super Hipster uses irony to bypass all of that effort by just liking, or claiming to like, John Smith’s. But how do you tell a hipster ironically liking John Smith’s from a person who actually just likes John Smith’s? Because Super Hipster is compelled to broadcast their love of John Smith’s, as part of their carefully curated personal brand.
So, to have another crack at answering Sarah’s question, the beer hipster (if such a thing really exists) wouldn’t get as far as being disappointed by a beer — they’d have a fixed view long before actually tasting it based on its image and how that fits with their image.
For more considered thoughts on ‘hipster’ and it use as a pejorative in beer culture, read this #BeeryLongReads post by Chris Hall from earlier in the year.
UPDATE 13/12/2014 08:30
We’re not sure we expressed ourselves very clearly here. The point we were trying to make is that the ‘hipster school of thought’, i.e. a wilfully contrary stance in relation to culture, is probably real, if hard to unravel; but that evidence of it rarely comes from the people so often lazily labelled as hipsters, i.e. young people wearing hats or with tattoos.