Recently several brewers from outside PA began a process of dropping shipments on PA resident doorsteps with just a couple clicks. These are what I would typically consider “hype brewers.”
Before I go further, I think I need to explain what I consider to be the “hype brewers” and by extension the “hype train.”
Hype Brewery: Typically brewing NE IPAs in an ever-revolving number of variants and with creative labels sometimes crossing the line on intellectual property so as to keep the FOMO going for consumers. Instagram and Untappd fuel the fire as well as trade groups. Have expanded this method to include sours, pastry stouts, and occasionally bourbon/barrel-aged or coffee beers.
Hype Train: “Getting caught up in the ever-revolving release schedule of a hype brewer to the point where you are asking yourself if this beer is different from the last one you bought from them. Expensive. See also: FOMO Effects”
At the end, you are free to accept or reject the above definitions but stick with me for a bit here.
There are lots of brewers that have engaged in hype: Monkish, Trillium, The Veil, Other Half, Three Chiefs, Tired Hands, Tree House, Angry Chair, Equilibrium, Aslin, and others that I am surely forgetting or have not yet heard of because the hype has not reached me yet.
Four of the above began shipping to PA residents this week past or will do so soon: Trillium, Other Half, Aslin, and The Veil.
Others are likely to follow.
Long time listeners to the podcast may recall Ed, Easy Pretzel, and I traveling together to Tree House, my journey to Tired Hands, and (most importantly) the three of us riding “The Veil train” for nearly a year. Ed is still working to financially recover. Thoughts and prayers.
For us, the result was important to learn and understand as a beer podcast and for me as a beer consumer. The hype is based in part on exploiting the #CraftBeer FOMO and on leveraging social media. Is the beer good? Yes. Unquestionably those brewers produce beers I like to drink. They are good. But is The Veil’s Blue Ferrari IPA any different from the White Ferrari they released only a couple of months beforehand? How the hell can anyone tell? All of these brewers release an unending stream of nearly identical beers that offer so nuanced a tweak in hops, or methods to legitimately be different but without distinction.
Now some brewers are engaged in asymmetric warfare going over the top directly to consumers while other brewers move into markets heretofore not even remotely on their map (i.e. Dancing Gnome going to Columbus and Lawson’s dropping Liquid Sunshine over so many random PA distributors that checking dates on their cans is really necessary).
All of this may be due to the constraints of the pandemic or the natural evolution of smaller brewers feeling forced to use their nimbleness to find new and/or direct methods to sling the cans. To me, it all feels a little weird and disjointed.
While all of this is happening, Tröegs does a Double Nugget Nectar release that catches the eye of many… many in this case fans of hyped beer. The juxtaposition of these events in the timeline is a little strange and for my favorite brewery in Hershey, unfortunate.
Double Nugget Nectar being a small, limited brewery-only release had impacts not intended. I consider Tröegs to be a brewery of intent. They work to clearly communicate their intent and they generally hit the mark. Tell folks what you are going to do and then do it. It is honest. But here the messaging got away from them in a hurry as the interwebs got very excited for a limited release without purchase limits.
Tröegs brewed a volume of Double Nugget that was intended to last two weeks. As I witnessed and as I described on the podcast it essentially lasted minutes. The hype, coupled with a lack of understanding as to the vigor of that hype, drove the beer out the door so fast as to leave the brewery shocked.
Some folks online took this more seriously than they should and got angry about it. Weird, but that is how some folks are. People being angry and disappointed bothered Tröegs and I know… They told me.
Tröegs is a brewery that is accessible. Their beers are widely distributed in their network of states, they have lots of tap handles in bars and restaurants (remember those). They work hard with their partners and strive to keep those relationships. On the consumer end, they have a brewery that is open and airy, highly accessible and they love for you to visit and see everything. Their best piece of online work the “We Taste…” series is about being inviting and opening up their beer’s flavors and experience to consumers. It’s very good and Tröegs co-worker Christie is the perfect person to invite us in for a sip. It is the best way to educate folks about their beers and again… accessible.
The events of the Double Nugget release does not fit their way of doing business. They missed the mark and they apologized. I think the long-term impacts here are still to be fully sussed out; maybe just in my mind. If you missed the release, take heart. It will be back in 2022… no doubt.
Until then, try to avoid getting hit by the Hype Train.
Brief Double Nugget Nectar Review: I liked it… a lot. I appreciated the boozy character and Simcoe coming through in spades. The malts are a solid platform for the hops and provide a finish that has bready sweetness. When it comes back next year, I will buy a case, but it will not replace Nugget Nectar for me. I think it is a nice companion in the line-up. A good very fun beer, but in the end, the boozier, bigger beer ends up not besting the original; and that is okay… it shouldn’t.
The biggest Tröegs release for 2021 will be Triple Nator… I am more than hyped for this beer release. For this one, you will want to buy a few bottles and lay them down to taste as it develops over years. This is going to be special.
I think the influence of Breweries in PA is really interesting. They were a big part of moving the needle for Double Nugget Nectar in my opinion, exactly how much is pretty hard to tell.
People pillorying Troegs for the Double Nugget release online were really over the top. They do not deserve that.
Folks assuming I was not rating Double Nugget Nectar on Untappd because I was going to write about it were correct. There were like three different versions of this post before I settled on what you read above.
Recording another episode of the IFS podcast this week. Might have a friend of the show on… TBD. (It’s Jeff Kupko)
While writing this I drank a Double Nugget Nectar, a Joyous IPA and Horizon Dry Hopped Pilsner by New Trail and Human Robot. A couple of thoughts:
Pilsner is nice. Crisp. Easy. Super clean. Very good.
Joyous IPA is a good fruity IPA perfect for spring and dropping into folks’ hands maybe just a little bit early. I do think that timing for beers can make a big difference. We are currently in the winter of our discontent. It’s cold, Arctic cold. Snow is cycling in regularly. The days are still dark, gray, brutal, and short. It’s like Hobbesian climate hell. Here comes an IPA that is bright, fruity, and asking for sunshine. I’m not sure I am ready for it yet. It’s aspirational in a time where I am just trying to hold on and beat back the seasonal depression that is dog-piling on top of my pandemic cabin fever. This beer is good… the yeast is doing yeoman’s work and I am not in a place right now to fully appreciate it. I recommend it as soon as the sunshine calls for it. Also… amazing label and branding by Troegs; up there with Haze Charmer.
Disclaimer: Troegs was kind enough to send me two cans of Joyous. I already had purchased a case of it when it dropped at my local distributor. I would still gladly spend my own hard-earned money on the beer.
One thought on “The Hype Train Crashes into PA”
I don’t do the social media thing, but I enjoy your posts and podcasts. I don’t regularly comb through twitter, so I get a good amount of Central PA beer news and nuggets from your stuff. Thank you.