A lot is made of hype in beer and the phenomenon of “FOMO” but is it applicable to our local craft beer scene?
Disclaimer: I’m going to use “FOMO” multiple times in this article. I hate it as much as you do but it kind of works for the phenomenon that it represents.
This is inspired by a recent blog post by UK brewers, Cloudwater. It got me thinking about hype in Australian craft beer.
“Fear-of-missing-out” is definitely present in our local craft beer scene but I don’t think hype has reached the levels it one day might.
Fear Of Missing Out
As I’m sure many other enthusiastic beer drinkers do, I find myself getting caught up in this. When GABS tickets were about to go on sale, I was sat refreshing the website. I began to sweat as the website wasn’t working. I had my credit card number memorised but out and ready just in case. Demand was high. I wanted to get to all the sessions. I was in a meeting at the time.
When new releases hit bottle shops, I’m more often than not straight down there to pick them up. Sometimes I end up buying more beer than I could reasonably drink any time soon. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
There are always new releases, limited edition beers, seasonal brews, rare imports. There’s always more great beer right around the corner.
So this poses some questions. Is this a healthy relationship to have with anything we love? It’s possibly not ideal. Is it detrimental to the craft beer scene? I’m unsure. I don’t think it is, yet.
Limited Hype In Australian Craft Beer
I don’t think we’ve really seen the start of it yet. While there’s some excitement around new releases or rare imports, there’s only really been one instance of a brewery being hyped to extraordinary levels. In the case of Pirate Life, they delivered on the hype in sensational fashion.
While Pirate Life took some time to make it to New South Wales, there’s nothing to suggest this was for any reason other than ensuring production and distribution was right before entering the market.
What it did, although unintentionally, was create some hype and fear of missing out among craft beer drinkers who were following the growth of the brewery.
It’s also surprising that we haven’t seen start-up brewers try to replicate or manufacture this, something which Cloudwater in the UK have been accused of.
This is something that brewers in the US and UK have faced significant backlash over, even in the case of simply underestimating demand for limited releases or open events.
While I would question both the ethics and smarts of stimulating FOMO, I could see it being somewhat successful as a marketing tactic. The first time.
After that, it’s going to alienate customers. It’s not something I’d recommend that a brewery uses as part of a long term marketing strategy. It will soon annoy people and consumers are smart enough to see through it.
Reputation, Not Hype
As it was nicely put in the Cloudwater piece, there’s a distinction between hype and reputation. A good reputation is earned but with it comes the weight of expectation. That said, I don’t know of a brewer who would prefer to have a lesser reputation so that they face reduced expectation.
Overhyped beers and breweries don’t seem to be present in Australian craft beer as they are in the US or UK. Perhaps we’re just too laid back to let that take hold, or perhaps we’re just not at that stage in our development yet.
Enjoy The Beer We Have Now
Finally, I’d like to echo sentiments that were in the Cloudwater piece. When it comes to hype and reputation we, as Aussie beer drinkers, can give imported beers a free pass, but we’re much harsher on our local market even when there is no hype.
Let’s pause to enjoy the fantastic beers that are being made in Australia right now and celebrate the good reputations that Aussie breweries are earning for themselves.
It’s a good thing that we haven’t been subjected to an unstoppable hype train yet. Instead, we’re seeing craft beer growing at an impressive rate through people supporting their local scene. Let’s continue this way, enjoying the beer we have now rather than the beer that’s yet to come.