Friday, November 30, 2012

Never Mind the Hype: Lakefront's Black Friday Beer

Past, Present, & Future Sessions Here
As I've mentioned before, beer is for drinking, not for fetishizing. But that giddy thrill before you drink it...? It's pretty fun, sometimes even better than the beer. Maybe even often better than the beer. In those moments, the beer hardly matters. The anticipation, the endorphin and adrenaline rushes, the experience... those matter.

A byproduct of the rise of craft beer is that brewers have to compete for consumers. One way to do this is to hype up a beer. Let's call this top-down hype, as opposed to bottom-up hype, which comes from ones' peers (e.g., "you have to try this barrel-aged imperial wit dry-hopped with unicorn tears!"). Scarcity, top-down hyping if nothing else, means that a great many people, or at least a handful of craft beer aficionados, are going to want to try something there isn't a lot of, which is how I found myself standing outside Lakefront Brewing's Milwaukee building at 8am in a fifteen degree wind chill on "Black Friday."

Lakefront, marketing geniuses that they are, released an imperial black IPA--perhaps the most American, or at least 'Merican, beer they could--to get in on this traditional day of shopping madness. I happened to be in Milwaukee to celebrate Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law, who happens to be an ex-employee of Lakefront. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I found out about this event before he did (thanks, Beerpulse!), though to his credit he agreed it was a good idea.

That foolish fellow in the yellow t-shirt at dead center is my other brother-in-law, who now knows to bring a jacket to an 8am beer event. This photo was on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website on Black Friday.
Only 1200 bottles were made, with a limit of three per person. Yes, I bought three. In addition, the first 300 people in line got a Black Friday pint glass. My brother-in-law ended up with the last one of those.

As for the Black Friday imperial IPA? I haven't even had it.* It doesn't matter. Black IPA, or whatever you want to call it, isn't my favorite style. What matters is standing out in the cold, walking into a crowded, festive brewery (see below) on a Friday morning, and having a great time with great people. Hype? The beer is besides the point. It usually is.

* Thanks to air travel, I could only bring back two bottles, getting the rest at Christmas. I chose Three Floyds Broo Doo because it's a wet hop ale, it wasn't getting any fresher, and New Glarus Serendipity because it's New Glarus and delicious. Only one of these beers lives up to the hype. Speaking of which, I maintain that if Three Floyds distributed to 20 states instead of 5 there'd be a lot less talk about them about beer circles, and I say this despite liking many of their offerings.

1 comment:

  1. You raise a great point - in the end, the experience is worth more than the beer and the hype itself.

    I made a trip to Milwaukee this summer and visited Lakefront. I thought it was a unique place to have a beer. I loved the (super) open beer garden style seating.