Last year I finally got my hands on some Russian River Pliny the Elder. It was pretty good but I don’t think it was the best IPA I’d ever had. Last month I got to drink Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA again since they stopped distributing to the UK. It was ok but it didn’t blow my socks off. Far too much caramel.
The beer world does seem to like to get itself in a tizz about particular beers. Usually, those beers are hard to find. Westvleteren 12, as mentioned in the David’s intro post is case in point.
I really want to try it but I’m pretty sure it’s going to taste virtually the same as St Bernardus Abt 12 which I can get hold of easily and cheaply. Does the exclusivity make the Westy better? Not really, but it makes it more of a victory when you actually find it.
Although most beer hype has originated from a lack of resource to produce more (or desire to produce more in the case of the St Sixtus monks), the cynic in me makes me think that some breweries are looking to brand their products as being hard to find.
While I would rather think about beer enjoyment as a tasting thing rather than a marketing thing, it’s clear that is what is happening here. This obviously appeals to the ego of people who want have unique experiences and to be part of an exclusive club.
This sort of engineered exclusivity is pretty common in the US, with beer launch dates being publicised from Russian River Pliny the Younger on the East coast to Founders Harvest Ale in the Midwest. Three Floyds even make their Dark Lord launch into a borderline festival.
I can’t think of a UK equivalent happening, although my own favourite Buxton Axe Edge is time restricted due to them being able to get hold of the vast amounts of hops required.
Personally, I prefer to find things out for myself. but reputation does have influence on me. I want to taste the Surly Wet IPA, I want to taste the Smuttynose IPA. I’m sure I’ll get to these in the end. However the single brew, single day release seems a bit ridiculous to me as a Brit.
I’ve resigned myself to never getting Dark Lord or Pliny the Younger. I think I’m ok with that.
- 8th December 2012, Sustainable Alcoholic