THE TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT

In the world of beer, there are many whacky ideas. Whether it’s a beer tie-in to a popular TV show like Game of Thrones or the introduction of strange ingredients, gimmicks abound. There have been many odd, misguided and downright bad beer ideas. Some seem too unbelievable to be true, but be assured, they are very real.

Unsurprisingly, many beer gimmicks are created by mega-brewers Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors. The big dogs always seem to be chasing each other’s tails. Who could forget the Bud Light bottle whose label had a blank spot to write your name with a fingernail or key? As if the beer would last long enough to require a nametag. Or what about Miller Lite’s vortex bottle? The ads claimed it “lets the great pilsner taste flow right out.” Does that mean that it flows more quickly than it did before or that it merely comes out of the bottle? The jury’s still out. Then there’s the gimmick that seems to get the most attention – both positive and negative – the Coors Light cold-activated can. The geniuses in marketing seem to have forgotten that most folks keep their brew in an ice chest or refrigerator, meaning that those mountains are blue most of the time.

Domestic mega-brewers haven’t cornered the market; there are plenty of breweries that use peculiar gambits to market their products. Scottish brewing mad scientists Brew Dog have been pushing the envelope of alcohol content in beer for years, but oddly, that’s not their biggest ploy. The brewery actually took bottles of its 55 percent ABV beer (yes, really) called The End of History and put them inside a real (stuffed) squirrel or stoat. PETA was appalled. Most breweries are slightly less ambitious, choosing to not use taxidermed mammals as decanters.

Once an advertising device gains acceptance, it becomes something of a trend. Once seen as a joke, aging beer in used liquor barrels is a now mainstream practice – the process imparts complex flavors from residual liquors and the barrel wood itself. Brews have become legendary due to barrel aging – 3 Floyds Brewing Co.’s Dark Lord and Cigar City’s Hunahpu.

Now, fruit-flavored IPAs are the latest conceits. Seminal Delaware brewer Dogfish Head has had Aprihop, an apricot flavored IPA, on the market for a few years. Sculpin, from Ballast Point in San Diego, has also undergone the fruit treatment and is now available in several flavors, like grapefruit and watermelon. Another brewer that has infused fruit into its IPA is Burnt Hickory Brewing in Kennesaw, Georgia. BHB’s Didjits brand is brewed with blood oranges, rendering a bitter citrus flavor.

Gimmicks and beer seem to go hand-in-hand, and have for ages. Who could argue with the genius of aging beer in liquor barrels or infusing fresh new flavors? 

Thirsting for a gimmicky beer? Try these:

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin
A perfect beer for chili heads, this scorcher blends hoppy IPA flavors with the unrelenting heat of habanero peppers. Warning: daring drinkers only.

Terrapin Beer Company Liquid Bliss
The appeal of a chocolate and peanut butter mashup is undeniable. So Terrapin guys did that; the result’s as delicious as it is gimmicky.

Black Sheep Brewery PLC Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale
Created to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the comedy troupe, the refreshing golden ale is a real conversation-starter. 

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october, 2021

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