Session # 70 – Don’t Believe the Hype

Here is the December topic courtesy of Good Morning….
“Back in the summer, I shared a bottle of Westvleteren 12 with my brother and my father. Whilst I was aware of it’s reputation as “best beer in the world”, they were not. Whilst we all enjoyed it, we all agreed that we much preferred the other beer we had that night. The question that came into my head was this…

If I had told them it was the best beer in the world, would their perceptions have changed?

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, in and of itself, is neither correct, incorrect, good or bad. It is simply the blowing up of something that heretofore was unknown.

That means, to me, that any beer that is considered a “let down” after you have tasted it is not the fault of the hype but of the beer itself. Because, if you then say that the hype was exaggerated or over the top then you are basically saying that you believe what other people say and not what your palate is telling you.

But it seems, if you look at the top beers on the various craft focused websites, that a lot of people are either parroting back what has been told to them because they fear writing down their true reactions or it isn’t hype and the beer is just that damn good.

I believe it is a bit from both column A and column B. I used to check out the “scores” and “ratings” of beers before prying off the crown cap. I used to strain to locate the faint notes of pineapple and/or caramel in a certain beer and I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to the actual beer that was in my glass. Not to say that I am not overtaken by certain beers with reputations that precede them but I pour it into my glass and swirl as if it were the beer before and the beer after. If it astonishes then I am in agreement with the crowd. But if I pull back and think of what needs to better the beer then I know that my taste buds are not in alignment.

For an example, I recently lucked into trying Heady Topper from the Alchemist. Barring me winning the lottery and traveling the beer world with my winnings. I probably was not going to sample this beer. So I read about it. Perused some reviews and put it into my wish list. When the can was handed to me, I smiled and profusely thanked the person who brought it and tasted it. But I didn’t taste it like it was heaven sent. I didn’t taste it like I was part of some BeerAdvocate clique. I simply tasted it as a lover of craft beer.

Heady was indeed up to snuff and then some. One of the best beers that I imbibed in 2012. So, to me it is not overhyped. But to you or the person next to you it might be. And that is not a bad thing, or a good thing or correct or incorrect. It is just we all have different reactions. And some reactions are more passionate than others.

2 Replies to “Session # 70 – Don’t Believe the Hype”

  1. I agree with you here. In the end we are all left up to our own reactions and devices to generate our opinions of the beer we drink. I think hype and evangelization is important when it brings lesser known beers, breweries, and bars into the spotlight, but there is always a risk that it’ll get overhyped. That being said, as egotistical as it sounds, when I have a beer in front of me, the only opinion I care about is my own. I usually find that listening to the buzz can usually steer you in the direction of beer you should try. The buzz helps me create a beer bucket list of beers I want to try, but try isn’t always the same as drink.

    This is a great topic Sean! Keep up the good work 🙂



  2. I love writing responses to the monthly Session topics. When someone selects a topic it makes you think about what side of the fence you stand on.

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