Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are "limited edition" beers worth the hype?

In this article from eatocracy, the writer descibes getting a frantic text from her boyfriend, instructing her (without saying 'please', no less) to run to the local package store and buy a 6-pack of Hopslam, a limited-edition beer from Bell's brewery. The reason being, since this beer is released in a limited batch only once a year, the store would only allow one 6-pack per customer. The writer did as requested (the boyfriend bought her flowers to apologize for his lack of manners), but she wondered whether this beer was really that good. Was it worth the concerted effort to get an extra 6-pack, or was her boyfriend just getting caught up in the hype of this "limited edition" beer?

Ultimately she decided that Hopslam is delicious, and that it was worth the effort. However, reading her story got me thinking......are limited edition beers really that much better than the everyday stuff? And more importantly - does it matter?

I've made mad dashes to stores and breweries before, hoping to get my hands on a limited batch of something. In fact, last weekend I hooked a ride with a friend down to New England Brewing, a brewery in New Haven, CT (45 minutes from where we live), just because they tweeted that they were filling growlers with Fuzzy Baby Ducks, their limited-edition IPA. I've had every beer NEB makes, and I love them all. I even was lucky enough to try Fuzzy Baby Ducks last time it was released, and you know what? It's great. But it's not my favorite beer. Not even my favorite from that brewery. But it didn't matter. It was the adventure of hopping in the car and flying down the highway (at the posted speed limit, of course) to try to get our hands on this beer. Well, we didn't make it in time. They were tapped out by the time we got there. We had to "settle" for tastings and growler fills of 3 of their other beers, which are all fantastic. But the excitement just wasn't there. We've had these beers before.

The taste of the beer is just part of the experience - we also wanted to hang out with all the other like-minded people that ran to the brewery to get Fuzzy Baby Ducks (y'know, the guys that beat us there and took it all. Assholes. I should have had Dom distract them while I broke into their cars and stole their growlers), and just generally appreciate being part of the craft beer community in our small state.

So, my point is that it doesn't matter whether a limited-edition beer tastes any better than it's everyday counterparts. It's the communal experience of the mad dash to get it that makes it so exciting to drink. Next time a guy frantically texts his girlfriend to pick him up a 2nd 6-pack of Hopslam, or a scandal erupts over lottery tickets for Kate the Great Imperial Stout, it just goes to show that it's not just the flavor that matters, it's the thrill of the chase as well.

 - Brett

tl;dr - drink rare beer.

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