Destroying a beer's legacy...

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by RaulMondesi, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (1,912) Dec 11, 2006 California

    First and foremost, I am extremely happy that founders is in California - I think they are world class. But as I sit in my local beer joint, I can’t help but get somewhat distraught at all of this old/warm CBS and KBS lying around. When I traded for KBS back in 2013, it was a legendary beer moment for me. But now that it’s mass produced and sits around like a 23 week old donut, I dunno. BA’s?
  2. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (220) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Times are a changin'

    I see this with FW releases as well, not quite to the same extent but at work we used to get a lot less and it would be gone within the first hour of being open. We got 4 cases of Napa Parabola and it lasted a solid couplr weekls
    Oh_Dark_Star and RaulMondesi like this.
  3. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,330) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    With the rise of hyperlocal buying, and the mid to large scale craft brewers making more of their previously rare releases, it makes sense. Let's face it, if a beer sees distro at all it cant possibly be as "good" as a brewery only release, right? :rolling_eyes:
  4. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    At a certain point we have to take a look in the mirror and realize that if we regret that there are now easy to get versions of beers we used to go crazy for due to their rarity it says something about us. It also says something about the brewery

    It says the brewery used the marketing technique of scarcity marketing to make us feel compelled to buy the beer when it first came out by stimulating our FOMO. And it says we are the kind of people who fall for that gimmick.
  5. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (1,912) Dec 11, 2006 California

    I agree in part. But what about the fact that mass producing a beer has lessened it’s quality? Speaking locally, Alpine is nowhere near what it used to be. And now that Founder’s is damn near in 50 states, I doubt its quality is what it was 10 years ago.
    russpowell likes this.
  6. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I think what you say is especially true for hoppy beers, something about the geometry of huge fernenters and the characteristics of how yeast ferment wort. But...

    There are plenty of cases of breweries who only produce small batches and have a decline in quality.

    There is ample evidence that as we try more beers, and the overall quality of beer improves (as it has without doubt) we have inconsistent or inaccurate memory of how beer used to taste versus present taste.

    There is evidence that a beer's rating by consumers is influenced by rarity so that it reflects a higher rating than it would if not rare and hard to get, or very expensive.

    So that certain point we need to get to in examining ourselves in the mirror, and breweries we feel are in decline due to expansion, will include honest reflection about these three factors IMO

    Thanks for a thoughtful thread.
  7. RyanK252

    RyanK252 Poo-Bah (2,239) May 18, 2014 California

    Along the same lines of a once sought after beer's legacy...
    This week Russian River began distribution in Central California and a few bars had big welcome parties and plenty of people flocked to finally get their hands on Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. Many bottles were sold and many kegs were drained, and many of us got to enjoy a visit from an old friend, now without the 3 hour drive. But I saw some people reacting saying "It's all hype." or "We went crazy for this?". I remember making it up to Santa Rosa for the first time, getting Pliny on draft, and having my mind blown. And that was only about 5 years ago. Somehow these legendary beers that blew everything else out of the water for years are being pooh-poohed and it kinda rubs me the wrong way. I get that they are different from the latest weekly released hop bombs of today, but ya gotta show some respect for your Elders.
    eppie82, Key-in, Tdizzle and 26 others like this.
  8. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,558) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    If Founders had ramped KBS and CBS more slowly over several years, they could have maintained or even increased the hype by getting it into the hands of more people. By ramping it up quickly they essentially killed the cult status.

    The hype worked on me, I'd buy as much KBS I could get my hands on, usually 4-6 bottles. The year I landed a case and could have easily gotten several cases, I lost interest. The beer was the same, but it then became nothing special and I realized there were several others BA stouts I liked as much or more, which were more available and cheaper.

    A beer that lives on hype is Toppling Goliath KBBS. It sells to the lucky few for $100 a bottle and you have to go to the brewery to get it. It doesn't have phoenix feathers, unicorn hair, or dragon heartstrings in it, so they could certainly make more. Perhaps they are ramping up production slowly and quietly - but I still can't get my hands on one!
  9. islay

    islay Aspirant (278) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    If you're in this hobby for the beer, wide distribution and beer sitting on shelves for leisurely convenient purchase is a great thing. If you're in it for collection purposes, where it's all about the chase, bragging rights, and impressing your friends, adequate supply to meet demand and wide availability takes the fun out of things.

    No single beer is really worth hundreds of dollars based on the taste experience alone. No beer is worth hours of standing in line, unless you're enjoying the company of your fellow queuers. No beer is worth chasing all around town the day of the release unless you enjoy the hunt. Trading is time-consuming, expensive, and, in most cases, technically illegal, and it produces a negative environmental impact. Any activity beyond going to a convenient local establishment to pick up easily available beer is never going to be justified by the beer itself but rather the social factors and thrill around it.

    For many people, almost the entirety of the appeal of beers like CBS and KBS lay in their function as a vehicle to deliver that thrill; it never mattered much what was in the bottle but rather what built up around it. The beer probably is as good as ever (I've never drunk the stuff; not a coffee guy), but the thrill is gone.
  10. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (837) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    KBS tastes just as good as it did when it was hard to come by. If it’s more accessible because the pointy end of the beer geek population are focused solely on brewery-only 15% BA (sometimes having spent a whole 60 days in barrels!) imperial stouts with doughnuts, almonds, pecans, peanuts, wild thai bananas, candied coconuts and [insert expensive/rare coffee that has a delicate flavor profile that makes no sense being in a beer], then everyone’s a winner
  11. JohnnyHopps

    JohnnyHopps Poo-Bah (2,120) Jun 15, 2010 Indiana
    Society Trader

    There was a local guy who posted his haul of 40-something bottles of CBS 2 years ago on facebook. I realize this how some people fill the empty holes in their lives (chasing trucks all day), but I keep thinking where is the dude when we need him to clean shelves.
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  12. JayORear

    JayORear Meyvn (1,095) Feb 22, 2012 New York
    Society Trader

    A really thoughtful, intelligent post, but I do disagree on this point. There are some beers (and admittedly there are few and fewer these days) that are so singular and irreproducible that acquiring them through lines/trade/black market are the only ways one will experience them. This was more the case back when I started trading in 2012, when many beers, especially from the East Coast, simply had no analogues in CA. I'm thinking especially of Heady and the first wave of NEIPAs from Tree House, Trillium, etc. It's true that there are "just as good" beers of most styles available in most places these days, but not always the exact same. Most recently, I think of Bamburana, which, although had a fairly wide distro footprint, still didn't make it everywhere. And the thrill is most certainly "what is in the bottle." I also have not found a WCIPA as dank and pot-like as Block 15 Sticky Hands, which I can only get through trade.

    Short version: you can be "in it" for the beer and still find trading/chasing to be justifiable.
    #12 JayORear, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
  13. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    For reasons not fully understood, Scarcity has long been a motivation for members of the human race (probably dates from our days as hunter-gathers who survive in part by keeping a reserve supply of food on hand incase they are unable to kill food or find enough edible plant stuff). Thus the desire for something scarce isn't unique and shows in collectors of all kinds. e.g. I know a few folks who are so passionate about a certain type of glasswere from a certain era that virtually all their off work time is focused tightly on getting a particular piece of glass produced at small, short glass factory where it was produced only once in the mid-to-late 1800s. (I inheritied one with background information. It's kept on a shelf in a case where it can be seen and just in case I need an emergency $5-600 dollars.)

    Marketers and some companies have noticed this effect and deliberately make use of it by deliberately hyping up a product and deliberately not producing as much as they could. That reinfoces the hype and increases the desirability.

    This there is real scarcity cause by lack of capacity and that feeds the folks who deliberately use it/

    My suggestion is that Founders did a special release when they were smaller (e.g., before a 30% sale that allowed them to expand capacity). The liked the possiblities and gradually have expanded their ability to produce more. It pretty much had to be slowly since CBS requries that the barrels that once held maple syrup after they held Bourbon and there are not many small companies that age their maple syrup aged in ex-bourbon barrels. So there is a real bottleneck in their ability to produce more even when they want to....

    As they lose their restrictions on production capacity they produce more of what the public wants and eventually there's enough to meet demand. Excitement fades and there is a chance for the non-truck-chasers to buy some as well. Throw in the difficulty of estimating what demand will actually materialize usually means some areas will indeed have bottles aging on the shelf.
    #13 drtth, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,098) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do you think perhaps this is a reflection of how the beer scene has changed over the past 5 years (or so)? In other words we now have such a good selection of high quality beers (especially brewed locally) that beers such as those from Russian River have lost a bit of luster in comparison?

  15. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Curious. Where is the line draw between inherent scarcity caused by a bottle neck such as not enough barrels that once held maple syrup to produce more (ie natural scarcity) and making a deliberate choice to produce less that might be to create artifical scarcity? The only place I can find one is in the intentions/motivation of the brewer and that is hard to know for me. Any help you can offer?
    russpowell likes this.
  16. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Hmm, interesting. Wondering if it is related to the fact that there are many more choices these days for quality beers and that has an effect on things such as RR and the urgency with which folks used to seek it out.

    (BTW one of our mutual favorite places had Elder on tap not long ago. Might be some still.)
  17. MikeWard

    MikeWard Poo-Bah (1,705) Sep 14, 2011 Pennsylvania

    First kbs I had was a 2015 in 2017. Damn tasty. Since then, at my usual bottle shop, it's always on the shelves, and I'm happy to pick up a couple. Only had cbs once, so would be ecstatic if it was always on the shelf.

    These are great beers whatever the age. While a rare beer I've craved appearing on the shelves might increase my heart rate, sipping either of these on a quiet evening is pretty damn good too
  18. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (303) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    The beers are just as good, but now they brewed in greater quantities, distributed over a wider area, and have legitimate competition.

    Some of the posts mention trades and purchases in 2011, 2012, and 2014. At that time many of these beers truly unique and much less available (deliberately or not). They were grabbed up right away because you couldn't find anything else comparable and you didn't know when they would be available again.

    Nowadays there are beers that are, arguably, just as good at a lower price point. The KBS's and Pliny's of the world are still excellent beers and have earned their reputations, but they are no longer alone at the top. Why rush to pay $24 for a 4 pack of KBS when you can now choose a comparable BBA for $10 less?

    Founder's has teased that this might be the last year for CBS, that's not a bad idea. Pull CBS for a couple of years and shrink KBS down to a limited regional distribution. Give nostalgia some time to work and then gradually reintroduce the beers at a more competitive pricing.
  19. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,464) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    ^ This!
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  20. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Defender (689) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    I really don't mind seeing KBS and CBS (to a lesser extent) sitting around. These beers can be aged and it's great to be able grab one when I'm in the mood. It is crazy how much the hype level has dropped in just a couple of years though.
  21. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I think we need to either say it exists or say it doesn't exist.

    If your point is that scarcity marketing doesn't exist in beer marketing, than I disagree.

    If your point is that it does exist, but it would be hard for the consumer to know in all cases whether it is the brewery purposely making less than they knew they could sell, or distributing it in a way they knew would cause shortages and FOMO, than I agree.

    I know that Captain Lawrence deliberately made less of certain of their beers than they were capable to do so as to instigate desire, and sell all of the beer for cash in one day. Lawsuits were likely to come from the shitshows of his releases. I personally witnessed a drunk guy's pants catching fire from one of the space heaters left outside for the line that formed the night before in freezing weather. Interesting to note that all those same beers now are made in much larger quantity and sold at beer stores as well as at the brewery, and there are no lines. Of course, now their new facility has more capacity. But how would we ever know for sure if the old facility had only enough capacity to make the amounts released in those small batches? I only know from being told by an ex employee that there was plenty enough capacity to make more, they purposely made small amounts guaranteed to cause FOMO
  22. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,605) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I've found that most formerly desirable beers are as good as they ever were. The main difference is that they were usually sought after because they were unique. There aren't too many unique beers left. You also have places all around the country with an M.O. of trying to make local versions of sought after beers. There's also something to the mystique of something being limited in the beer community. You often hear "I can buy that anywhere/any time." That's usually followed by "...but I haven't bought one in years."
  23. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    First, I did not say it didn't exist at all. There are two kinds of scarcity natural and artificial. What I asked was where/how do we draw the line that exists between the two. Some scarcity exists because there is simply no way to physically produce more given existing resources. Some exists because it is a deliberate choice to attempt to capitalize on human nature.

    I asked simply because you said Founders as using scarcity as a marketing strategy. Marketing is the artifical. Natural just is.

    So for example, how does one know that for some of those Captain Lawerence beers that it is deliberate choice on their part to restrict production for marking purposes rather than happening to brew a one-off as part of learning something and then deciding the batch, which was a success would/could not enter the regular brewing schedule, even if only because there was such a tight schedule that they would have to cancel production of an existing beer and replace it with the new. Fine if the old doesn't sell well but risky if it happen to be a steady source of reliable and predictable income.

    Bottom line, scarcity is not necessarily for marketing purposes.
    russpowell likes this.
  24. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,596) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Yeah, I know you didn't say that it doesn't exist, I wanted to frame the argument. I did my best to do that.

    I agreed in my reply that it is hard to know in all cases whether it is actual unplanned scarcity or a marketing scheme. I can't help you make that determination, nor am I 100% certain all the times I reacted with FOMO were the result of scarcity marketing, but the fact that we respond to scarcity, and that scarcity marketing exists, makes it secondary to the point I originally made.

    I didn't mean to accuse Founders specifically even though CBS and KBS may or may not be actual cases of scarcity marketing. Guess I should have pointed that out, since OP does mention both KBS and CBS
    #24 cavedave, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  25. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    There is a third one, in between. That is scarcity due to priorities on use of resources.

    For example, a small brewery who's beers are highly regarded, located in a small town in a mostly rural state, named after knocking over a Biblical character who shall remain nameless :rolling_eyes:

    Anyway, no insider knowledge here, just rational (I think) speculation...

    In theory, back in the day, they had enough capacity to brew much more of their most sought-after beers and therefore come closer to meeting demand, but only if they dedicate the brew-house to brewing just that beer, which would then cause a shortage in their "flagship" brands. So, they choose to allocated their resources in a more balanced way across their portfolio.
    russpowell likes this.
  26. eppCOS

    eppCOS Savant (962) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    To be honest, I suffer from supply-side anxieties of choice. Too much to decide on, look at, sort by date, and that means that some good ol' choices fall by the wayside in this tsunami of craft beer choices every time I enter the store. If I have a plan before walking in, a specific beer in mind, I'm OK. But if I'm browing...? takes me forever. The range, depth, and supply is just... tremendous these days.
  27. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Gotcha. I'd suggest that in the case of CBS there's more evidence that suggests real contraints rather than artifical created on purpose. One example, the barrels I mentioned. The natural scarcity of Bourbon barrels alone has driven up barrel prices significant since aging beer in those used barrels became a thing. Can't imagine how one could easily find a sizable increase in the source of twice used barrels with the last being maple syrup. They have a bottle neck in supply that is not under their control if only because their source can only.

    BTW I realize it was secondary to the point but took advantage of the idea that you might have some idea when you used that term. One of my bad habits, you may have noticed, curiosity about how someone knows something. When it's a technical term in an area that I know about.... (BTW I wasn't singling you out as this has happend before to others. Inquiring minds want to know.)
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  28. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (179) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    The overall quality of beer improves as well as beers becoming less unique over time. When I first tried Tree House Julius it was several years ago when the NEIPA was still fairly new. There weren't many comparable beers at the time and certainly not many outside of the area. The excitement of getting something scarce as well as getting something that was canned that day. The cans still smelled overwhelmingly of hops when I got home and for days later, the smell you get when you walk into a brewery. Drinking it that first time was "Whoa, this is something different". Each of those contributed to how I rated it at that time.

    Fast forward to today and its hard to replicate that feeling when drinking the same beer. Not only inaccurate memory as you said but a totally different experience. This is a bit of an extreme case but its no different than drinking say Heady Topper for the first time now. I'm sure if I drank that years ago even without the hype it would have provided that "Whoa, this is something different" feeling. Now I drink it and its good but nothing special IMHO. This is the same reason people talk about trying Tree House for the first time and wondering what the fuss is all about. It just isn't as unique today as it was years ago. It hasn't changed but expectations have.

    On a 1 to 5 scale 3 is average, if quality is increasing then that means that above average beers eventually become average. I've had friends incensed that I rated a beer 3.75 because it was such a sought after beer at one time. I find it hard to rate a beer like that because people expect you to rate it highly, when you drink it you expect it to be amazing. How do you rate a beer fairly when reality doesn't match up to expectations. Are you rating it poorly because you had such high expectations or are you rating it higher because it feels wrong to rate such a "great beer" relatively low?
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  29. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    True. I was actually lumping two together and bringing up examples form both since neither involve the deliberate consciously chose artifical scarcity used by marketers to increase demand beyond supply.
  30. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (960) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Back in the early 00s I could sell pallets of Green FllashWCIPA and Imperial IPA (bombers) in very short order. My complete delivery from Green Flash was paid for long before the bill was due. Strangely, I knew it couldn't last. Change is the one constant in the modern beer trade.
  31. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (5,579) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    There is a charm to something small and local and often an artisanal quality and the beer gains a certain charisma when you have to drive to the next state, trade for it or bike 5 miles to the brewery. Even if no other changes happen when the brewery goes national and regional, it loses some, if not all of its charisma and charm. There is also the aspect of moving from Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Elizabeth Taylor in the Sweet Bird of Youth - the young and sexy becomes old and familiar. You can't be the next new thing forever. There are also social and economic changes in the brewery itself - and shifts in priorities when the brewery goes from small and artisanal to regional or national and not everybody survives these changes well.
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  32. StoutSnob40

    StoutSnob40 Poo-Bah (2,395) Jan 4, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    What's your local beer joint? Curious to know what southern CA establishment is worthy of Raul's patronage.
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  33. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,809) Jun 6, 2010 Texas
    Society Trader

    These are generally the kinds of thoughts I think when I see a bunch of legendary beer collecting dust on the shelves.

    It's not a new phenomenon. Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle ... those beers were collecting all kinds of dust back in 2012 when I got back into beer. And in the case of those beers, well ... we all have favorites, but IMO no brewery makes a beer better than Rochefort 10 and few can touch Chimay's and Westmalle's dubbels or Chimay's strong dark. But they've been around for a hundred years, so the hype surrounding them is nil. No hype = no major movement of product.

    I know I'm repeating much of what's been said in here, but I always think of the best trappist/abbey ale imports when dust collecting gets mentioned.
    #33 Premo88, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
  34. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The Amish or PA Dutch in this area of the country would probably say something along these lines as well: "Kissing don't last, Cooking do." :slight_smile:
    #34 drtth, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  35. chrisjws

    chrisjws Champion (836) Dec 3, 2014 California

    I thought KBS was so-so back when it was hard to get. I even went back and checked my review to verify I'm not telling myself a lie after the fact now that it's easy to get. Not terrible, but honestly there were and are much better beers out there. I only had CBS two years ago for the first time, but unless the early days stuff was way better I was not impressed at all.
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  36. rodbeermunch

    rodbeermunch Poo-Bah (4,723) Sep 30, 2015 Nevada

    I love buying KBS for $5/12 oz at my grocery store. I love buying Central Water -bal stouts for ~$15/48oz when I go to Wisconsin.

    As a result, my purchase of other favorite -bal stouts like Eclipse and Bourbon County for $1 or more per oz. has dropped off by like 90% in recent years.

    Beer nerd collector/trader types are doing mental gymnastics to tell themselves somehow these beers aren't as good anymore. Its like when a team fires a coach who is a proven winner in the past. You really think with more experience they became less adept at their trade? Sure there are exceptions and outliers, but as a general rule. . .

    I think some breweries intentionally brew in small batches because if their wares reached the masses, the masses would rightfully declare that Beer A is pretty similar to Beer B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I etc. . . from other geographic regions. We already know that when blind tastings are done scientifically, expensive/rare products rate the same as cheap/available ones. YMGMV (Your mental gymnastics may vary).
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  37. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (589) Mar 28, 2009 California

    not enough flavor additions. No vanilla, no lactose, no thank you!
  38. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,943) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Very nice analogy that fits well.
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  39. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (960) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Well, Richard Burton married Elizabeth Taylor twice, at different times in their lives.
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  40. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,678) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Legacy or Infamy? I sometimes wonder aboot that.