Beer Gimmicks

Having worked in retail, I understand you try to find different ways to get people to be interested in your products.  Although some of them are quite useful to people, I also understand that a lot of these things are gimmicks designed to make people feel like they can’t live without it.  The home shopping industry is filled with these types of inventions.  We even have people who become millionaires being pitchmen.  The beer industry is no stranger to this.  They also find ways to get you to believe that their product is the best; however, they also come up with crazy inventions designed to get you believing that your consumption experience will only be heightened through the use of special designed products.  These can be as simple as the beer koozie, or they can move right up to glassware and other specialty items.  Here you’ll find a few examples of things people just can’t live without if you’re going to be a true beer drinker (please sense the sarcasm there)!

Specialty bottles and cans:  This is basically a big one for the big beer industry.  Those involved in the consumption of craft beer understand that you will most likely be pouring the beer into some type of specialty glass (more on that later).  The macro-breweries, however, have attempted to figure out ways to get you to pour beer down your gullet as fast as possible.  Miller Lite has the vortex bottle. As far as I can tell, and yes I have experienced the specialty swirling action, the vortex bottle adds nothing to the actual beer consumption experience.  The beer experiences no benefit from a bottle that probably costs slightly more to produce.  Coors Light may be the biggest culprit of gimmicks.  They have cold activated cans and labels, wide mouth cans, and even vented wide mouth cans.  Evidently, they don’t believe people can tell if a beer is cold through the use of any other sense other than their eyes, and everyone wants the ability to chug a beer in under 3.5 seconds to feel like their life is complete.  While I’m sure these are marketed to a slightly younger crowed, let’s not pretend you don’t have some 40-50 year old rooting through coolers to find blue mountains and wide-mouth vented cans for their slow pitch softball game.  Heineken even makes their beer cans in the shape of kegs.  Perhaps it is a slightly more sophisticated version, but it is still a gimmick none-the-less.

Specialty glasses: Here we have a major culprit of the craft beer industry; although, there are macro-breweries that get in on the act as well.  There is a commercial out right now that shows the way in which a Stella glass is created.  I find it funny how you have hot women blowing the gold rim cool as it exists the production line and straight into the bartender’s hand.  As if Stella couldn’t be enjoyed in a single other glass.  Chimay has their own goblets that make it seem like a sin to enjoy out of any other vessel, and it would seem nearly every brewery stamps their label on some fancy tulip glass to get you to buy it.  I understand the logic.  You’re going to pour the beer into a glass, so why not pour it into one the brewery claims will enhance the flavor.  Most of the time, however, the glass offers very little difference from the typical stemmed tulip or goblet shaped glass you can buy at Ikea or Crate and Barrel.  I think the biggest and most obvious culprit in the specialty glass realm is the Sam Adams Lager Glass.  Maybe it does really work, and Sam Adams managed to corner the market on the patent to produce them; however, I wonder why they are the only ones making it if it’s so good.  Every other brewery puts their label on tulip glasses, so why don’t they produce these horrendous looking things as well?

Randall Jr – Dogfish Head has essentially built their reputation on gimmicks.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the things they do, but they try to throw obscure ingredients together to create beers you feel like you have to try.  As a lover of beer, I find myself getting sucked in all the time.  It’s always a surprise to see some of the ingredients, and a morbid fascination to know what they taste like.  Half, or more than half of the time, I find out why no one else is using the ingredients, but they got me to buy a bottle because I couldn’t help myself.  Well they are at it again in a different way now.  The Randall Jr. seems to function similar to a french press water bottle.  You pour in your beer, put whatever you want to infuse it with on top, and you drink it straight out of there.  You can add whole leaf hops, lime, espresso beans, or any other ingredient you think would enhance the flavor of the beer.  Dogfish seems to have even accepted the idea that this is a gimmick by creating an infomercial for it.  I’ve included said infomercial below.  I can’t lie!  The morbid fascination is kicking in, and I can’t help but wonder what this will do to particular beers.  However, do I shell out the $19.99 to find out?  I heard about this early last week, and I’ve been pondering ordering one for a week now!

Beer gimmicks are throughout the entire beer industry.  The big beer industry is trying to get people to buy things by making you drink more, and the craft beer industry is trying to entice you with taste.  I’m not sure either one of them are producing these products for the entirely right reason.  I guess at least I would gladly choose taste over mass consumption of bad beer.

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12 Comments

  1. You beat me to it dude. I’ve been working on a post entitled “5 things they say makes your beer better but probably doesn’t”. And silliness like cold turning cans, vortex bottles, etc are a part of it.

    I’m also looking at this whole “beers taste better out of a certain glass” belief which was going to be a part of the above post, but lately I’ve been thinking it deserves a post of its own.

    I enjoy trying beers on a Randall when they install one at one of the bars I go to (it’s a Wed night tradition) but I don’t think I’d really want one at home. It’s kind of a curiosity thing that I’m not really into full time.

    Great post.

    • Sorry about beating you to the punch there. I guess great minds think alike. I have never tried a beer out of Randall, but I am curious what it would actually do. However, I’m not certain it would inspire me to have one of these at home.

      • Yes great minds do think alike, and yours is obvious a few steps ahead of mine, LOL. Randall’s can be hit or miss. I’ve had some good one’s and some bad one’s. Also their very temperamental. And if a lot of people are ordering from it, the beer doesn’t sit in the first chamber long enough to really get infused and then it’s like “what’s the point?”

  2. Doh! The Wookie went on a rant about the Randall. It’ll post later today. Stay tuned!

    Nice post. I agree. Gimmicks are just that. Gimmicks!

    • I look forward to the wookie’s post. It’s funny, we have all been thinking of how to make a post about this, and I guess I beat a few people to the punch.

      • Indeed you did! Well done. 🙂

  3. While I agree about gimmicks in general, that Sam Adams glass is pretty awesome. I like to use it for certain IPA’s. It’s a great glass (when I’m not using a tulip). Another company did try to make the same glass, but I think there was a problem with copyrights or some such legality.

    • See I was thinking it could be a copyright thing. I may have to get my hand on one of these for a true review of it. I just thought it seemed silly that no one else seemed to have jumped on this whole new shape concept.

  4. As a homebrewer, I like the idea of getting a beer with no hop aroma (Bud Light?) and “dry hopping” it in the Randall to get an idea of the different hop profiles. It would sort of be like the Mikkeller single hop series.
    As a beer drinker, they could sell me on this if they would include some recipes. 12 oz 90 minute IPA with 1/2tbs of coriander or whatever. I can’t imagine the damage I’d do to perfectly good beers without a little direction.

    • I’m not sure if I could ever bring myself to buy bud light even for this purpose, but I do get the concept here. I also like the idea of using it to explore different hops for sure. I think that is actually a great way to market this. Also, I think the recipes would be an amazing idea. It would at least give the consumer a better idea of things they could do before going nuts with it.

  5. Trying to see if this works

  6. sorry trying again


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