The Sessions: Don’t Believe the Hype

This month’s session (#70) is hosted by David J. Bascombe from Good Morning….  The subject this month is overhyped beers and how does the hype affect our perception of them. 

From his blog; “How much does hype have an effect? Are we much better off knowing nothing about a beer, or is it better to have the knowledge as to what the best beers are?

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? Tell me what you think. I’m looking forward to seeing what the general consensus is.”

 Hype to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc.

Budweiser and Bud light are pretty much the be all end all of super hyped beers.  They outsell every other beer made today.  So what is it that makes them so strong in their market?  Why have they beat out all others for so long?

When you look at the majority of craft beer enthusiast, they would drink almost anything else than something from big beer.  The beers don’t stand up to their hype.  At the same time, these enthusiasts are in the minority.  The craft movement is gaining strength and growing but it doesn’t change the fact that they still only have a smaller segment of the beer market. 
When you think in terms of hype on beer ratings sites.  Big beer has little going for it.  The beers are generally scored much lower than what their market share shows.  So this poses the question to us, “Who is it that claims the merits of one beer over another?”  Can we assume that the people writing reviews and rating the beers coming to market share the views of the vast majority of people?  When you look at the financial numbers that really doesn’t hold water.  
When it comes to flavor, we know now that much of what is traditionally brewed and cared for will carry flavor and experiences that we will not find in anything mass produced.  But again this is a matter of our perception.  Many times it takes sampling that first IPA or chocolate cream stout to open our eyes to the possibility that what we drink can be more than what the hype is telling us it could be.  
 
Aside from the blatant hype put out by the ad machines for Big Beer we also run into the problem of the hype created by ratings sites.  Again these tend to favor the popular side of things.  Aside from the thought that those who enjoy Big Beer tend to not use beer ratings sites ( i.e. beer is beer they are all the same right), is it possible that ratings sites tend to favor the flavor of the week? 
 
IPAs are a stark contrast to mass produced lagers, so it stands to reason when someone is first discovering Craft they will tend to favor a polar opposite.  In turn more ratings appear on ratings sites for IPAs bolstering the hype for these beers.  Does this mean that IPAs are better than say, oatmeal stouts?  It goes back again to perception.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beer holder.   
 
In the end, when you are exploring the beers around you, the safest bet would be to build a pallette so that you can decide for yourself what flavors you enjoy.  When you really get right down to it, the only taste buds that matter to you are your own. 

Time for a pint…



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8 thoughts on “The Sessions: Don’t Believe the Hype

  1. … and if you note the rating websites, huge IPAs, barrel-aged brews and the like are all the highest rated. Does that just heighten the hype? When we're trying to expand the excitement and access to craft beer, why would we want a newbie with an inexperienced palate thinking a $20 bottle of barrel-aged stout is what they'd want to drink. Maybe they would love the simplicity of a well-made brown ale.This is an excellent point – the distortion of hype can ruin things easily.

  2. "Big beer has little going for it." Yep, as an unseasoned beer taster, I can agree with that. Alas, thanks to the great marketing of Budweiser, it's what most youngsters start off on. Brand loyalty prevails for the silliest of reasons.

  3. Being passonite about beer is just like being passionate about food. There are flavors you like and some you do not. Many "name brand" beers are popular because of the national branding campaign. 🙂

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