Like most of us, I’m super easily drawn in to the most hyped beers of the moment. Scrolling through my Instagram feed is like (craft beer) porn to a bloke in jail – the fact I have no easy access to the vast majority of these gorgeous cans, bottles, growlers, crowlers and fresh pours just makes them even more desirable.
I recently got back from Vermont where we were blessed to get to sit down with some of the people behind some of the greatest beers in the U.S., potentially the world, and I asked a lot of them about why and how they think these mythical craft beers—sometimes referred to as white wales—earned their reputation. A lot of them mentioned the fact that the beers are just amazing, straight up. I think that pretty much sums it up, however there are also most certainly some overhyped beers that get more love than they deserve.
My theory is that when they first came out, some of the brews in question were in a league of their own. As brewing techniques, ingredients and palates changed and grew, the beers that folks used to fawn over just didn’t quite live up to the new standard. But the myth had already been created, and it’s not so simple for that to just disappear.
A few examples come to mind. I recently read an article about the decline of Westvleteren XII and how it went from being the highest rated beer in the world to barely scraping in the Top 20. The piece went on to echo similar sentiments to what I mentioned above. Two big DIPAs, Heady Topper and Pliny The Elder, also suffer a bit from their myths. Personally I think Heady lives up to its reputation (though I’m more of a Crusher guy); I’m yet to try Pliny but I hear from those who have tried it that it’s really not that fantastic. Both beers will likely get by for quite a while longer off the back of the myths, and good on ’em. They earned it.
Another theory as to why these myths persist is planned scarcity. Look at the Adidas Yeezy shoes. They’re really not that pretty but they’re damn near impossible to get hold of, so they’re overvalued in the market. Same goes for a ton of these beers. One in particular comes from Massachusetts’ Tree House. They have an impeccable reputation as producing some of the finest hazy, or New England style, IPAs, and they are just as difficult to get your hands on. We were lucky enough to get a Julius and a Haze from a connect out in VT, and we put them up against each other in one of our #Versus videos. Take a look at how it went down below.
I’m still keen to try Pliny, though.