Sometimes seems there are pretty much two categories of beer: those that don't live up to the hype, and those which are nicer than expected.
— Boak and Bailey (@BoakandBailey) December 7, 2014
That was an idle Tweet from the pub (Wetherspoon’s) where we’d just had a pint of real ale billed as ‘rum and raisin’ from a brewery we’d never heard of.
We didn’t expect much but it was actually pretty tasty — a solid, fairly dark best bitter. Based on how we codified our thoughts on expectations back in January, it was merely enjoyable but unexpectedly so, and therefore a pleasant surprise.
As for the mention of hype, we did, unfortunately, have in mind Siren/Magic Rock/Beavertown Rule of Thirds. (We say ‘unfortunately’ because it has become the centre of some fractious debate between brewers and drinkers.) Back in October, it was trailed thus:
The Rule of Thirds takes 1/3 of each of our individual recipes and process’ & promises to bring together the best of each of our flagships and come up with something greater than the sum of the parts. Which is no small boast.
That kind of message — this beer will be even better than three of the best-loved beers in the country! — combined with restricted supply, and a pre-emptive buzz on social media from bars and beer geeks, meant that the actual taste of the beer could surely never be as good as the idea of drinking it. We had a bottle and found it enjoyable, but perhaps expected delightful, if not instant top ten.
Here’s a longer quote from our January post:
On the flipside, there are breweries and beers surrounded by so much hype that they can only be a disappointment, even if the product itself is, objectively speaking, in the green zone on our scale. For example, if we’re promised a ‘metric fuck-ton’ of hops but only get a 0.65 fuck-tons, we might feel let down, even if that’s actually more than enough.
In other words, as managerial types are wont to say around the bird-table meeting zone, it can sometimes be better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way round. Depending, that is, on whether you want to shift stock, or build a long-term reputation.
PS. Later this week, we’ll get some thoughts together on the hipster school of thought.