In the world of beer, there are many whacky ideas. Just recently the Internet was all atwitter with news that some enterprising soul (pun intended) had decided to start brewing Star Trek themed beers. But, there have been many other odd, misguided and downright bad beer ideas. Some are almost to unbelievable too be true, but be assured, they are.
Not surprisingly the majority of beer gimmicks are brought to you by the mega brewers such as Anhueser-Busch, Miller and Coors. The big dogs always seem to be chasing each other’s tails, each trying to out gimmick the other. Who could forget the Bud Light bottle with a label that features a blank spot for you to write your name with a finger nail or key? As if the beer would last long enough to require a name tag. Or what about the Vortex bottle from Miller Lite? The advertising for this bottle claimed it “lets the great pilsner taste flow right out.” But, does that mean that it flows more quickly than it did before or that it merely comes out of the bottle? The jury is out. And then there is the gimmick that seems to draw the most attention – both positive and negative – the Coors Light Cold-Activated can. This beauty has graphics of mountains that turn blue when the beer is cold. The geniuses in marketing seem to have forgotten that most folks keep their brew in an ice chest or refrigerator meaning that the mountains are blue most of the time.
But, the domestic mega brewer have not cornered the market on beer gimmicks, There are plenty of other breweries that have marketed their brews with gimmicks. Scottish brewing mad scientists Brew Dog have been pushing the envelope of alcohol content in beer for years with soaring ABVs, But oddly, that is not the biggest gimmick. The brewery actually took bottles of their 55% ABV beer called The End of History and stuffed them inside a real squirrel or stoat. PETA members were appalled.
Other breweries are slightly less ambitious with their gimmicks than using stuffed animals as decanters and, to a degree some might call them trends rather than gimmicks. That is for you to decide. But, a gimmick that seems to have gained quite a bit of traction is the notion of barrel-aging beer. At first brewers gravitated mostly towards whisky and scotch barrels to age their beer. This process imparts complex flavors from residual liquors in the barrels and the wood of the barrels themselves. But, of late, brewers have begun taking the barrel-aging craze a step further by employing everything from gin to tequila barrels – not that there is anything wrong with that. Brews that have become legendary because of the barrel-aging include 3 Floyds Dark Lord and Cigar City Hunahphu.
An emerging gimmick – or trend if it makes you feel better – is that of fruit flavored IPAs. Seminal Delaware brewer Dogfish Head has had an apricot flavored IPA on the market for a few years with its Aprihop. Word has it that there is another fruit-flavored IPA coming from Sam Calgione’s off-centered brewery soon. Another brewer that has infused fruit into its IPA is Burnt Hickory Brewing of Kennesaw, Ga. The brewery’s Didjits is brewed with blood oranges and is said to not surprisingly have a bitter citrus flavor.
Gimmicks and beer seem to go hand-in-hand, so we may as well get used to it. That is not to say they are all bad. Who could argue with the genius of ageing beer in liquor barrels or infusing fresh new flavors? But, some truly are outlandish. Then again, if vented, wide-mouth cans help you to enjoy your beer more, who are we to judge?