Gimmicky Beers

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MammaGoose, Feb 19, 2013.

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  1. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Wyoming

    I find myself annoyed by gimmicky beers. Like Rogue's Voodoo Maple Bacon Donut nonsense, or some "hybrid" styles like a white stout, and some other things just...bug me. Perhaps I'm just a traditionalist because I would much rather have a fantastic example of a traditional style than some gimmicky garbage that "pushes the boundaries." But, I try to keep an open mind, because creativity and innovation and a bit of risk-taking are all a large part of craft beer. And I have to eat my words when I like some of the gimmicks. Like banana nut bread beer or Belgian style IPAs which I suppose could be considered a hybrid style.

    But some beers are just gimmicks, and that pisses me off. Like Rogue's Voodoo. One I had recently was at Wynkoop Brewing Co in Denver, CO. It was a Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout that was literally fermented with Rocky Mountain oysters. For the uninitiated, Rocky Mountain oysters are cow balls. This was a beer that had been fermented with sliced and roasted cow balls. What's the point? Now, I grew up in the open range hills and mountain valleys of northern Wyoming. I've wrestled calves, cut off balls, thrown them on the branding iron fire, and eaten Rocky Mountain oysters. They're delicious. But, I don't want them in my beer. Curiosity got the best of me, and I do love the fire grilled smoky deliciousness of RMO's, so I ordered a taster of the RMO stout. It was...good. A solid stout, I suppose. But it certainly didn't wow me. It didn't fulfill any kind of awesomeness that the gimmick might have suggested. It was just a pretty good stout. I would have liked it better if it had just been a stout and nothing else.

    So what is your opinion of gimmicky beers? All in good fun? Necessary to push the envelope of innovation in craft beer? Annoying? etc...
  2. jar72404

    jar72404 Initiate (137) May 31, 2009 Florida

  3. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona


    VDODSON Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 North Dakota

    I agreed 110% with you and would have followed you to the death until you mentioned eating cow nards. Jk, but you're right about the gimmick beers. The most recent one being the 65%ABV being sold in the UK, there has got to be some type of sanity check when it comes to these things. But then I see why american craft beers are so sought after, the brewers have no fear. Unlike strict 100 year old Germany purity laws still in effect, we have the ability to experiment and have done so with great outcome.

    Without those brave souls there would be no Imperial IPA's, guess Im twisted..
  5. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (271) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    If Rogue's Voodoo Maple Bacon Donut came in 4 or 6 packs then I would mind giving that a try or even as a single in a mix a six but 16 bucks for a bomber of that isnt for me.
    baconman91 and Kyrojack like this.
  6. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    When it comes to beer, gimmick is really a pejorative. If we look at the related definition of gimmick we find "A device employed to cheat, deceive, or trick". I think that intention should really drive the labeling as gimmicky or not. I think a lot of these oddball beers are simply brewers having fun with their beer or maybe pushing the envelope a little but I do not think most are brewing novelty beers made only the create sales. I have no use for novelty beers and understand irritation with those. The oddball or hybrid beers are fine by me, I may not appreciate them but I do not need to appreciate every beer.
    sjverla, ShanePB, drtth and 2 others like this.
  7. Cvescalante

    Cvescalante Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Wells banana bread beer, pumpkin beers, JK funk metal, esspresso and coffee beers, and the mint chocolate chip stone collaboration beer are all great examples of why I love that brewers try to innovate! I encourage trying new things
  8. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    I find that there aren't many "gimmicky" beers that turn out to be "great" beers, but I don't necessarily find them annoying either. Without a little creativity, envelope pushing, and oddball thinking, who knows what we'd still be living without today, beer or not.
  9. Droogins

    Droogins Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2012 Massachusetts

    I can understand a creative mind wanting to make a beer like Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon. I look at those like I look at a Jackson Pollock painting; if you're into that, fine. But a creative mind that makes beer out of pages torn from Moby Dick seems to me like a creative mind that has run out of ideas.

    I mean, really. Novels are not for drinking.
    szmnnl99, BostonHops and Kerrie like this.
  10. fredmugs

    fredmugs Poo-Bah (1,533) Aug 11, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I think Fat Tire is a gimmicky beer.
    TheBeerDad likes this.
  11. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (295) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    10-15 years ago stupidly over-hopped beers like Pliny, Heady Topper, and Abrasive would have been viewed as gimmicky. I'd wager Goose Island got called gimmicky back in 1995 when they threw their imperial stout in a bourbon barrel. Creating a device that continuously sprinkles hops into the kettle for the duration of a 90 minute boil sounds gimmicky as fuck, but that beer gets a 95 on this very site. A couple of years ago rye IPAs were rare and dare I say gimmicky, now everyone and their fucking grandma is brewing one.

    tl;dr: Everything new is gimmicky. Unless it works, in which case everyone will start doing it.
    danieelol, jgluck, mrk829 and 14 others like this.
  12. whatsleftofyou

    whatsleftofyou Aspirant (231) Mar 12, 2006 Michigan

    I both agree and disagree. I don't like breweries who are brewing "gimmicky" beers just to get attention. However if they're legitimately trying to make something neat, then I'm all for it. Craft beer wouldn't be where it is without people pushing boundaries.

    As a homebrewer that likes to make off-the-wall beers sometimes, it's a thrill to put something just stupid in the boil kettle and have it turn out to be a great beer.
    DaKur likes this.
  13. w_klon

    w_klon Initiate (183) Aug 1, 2012 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Technically, they're a bull's balls :wink: , but I got what you were saying :grinning:.

    To the idea of "gimmicky beers", some of its just marketing. Ive seen plenty of people that have come to Portland (OR), go to Voodoo Doughnuts (major tourist trap), and when they see the crazy pink bottle at the grocery store, they have to buy it along with the other Rogue bottles next to them (Personally, I tend to like the look of Rogue's bottles more than the beer).

    I also think a lot of it is just creativity and innovation. The brewers dont really know how something is going to taste until they brew it, right? When they do, they sell it, its either well received or not, and then they decide whether they brew it again. Pretty simple.
  14. Revenant

    Revenant Aspirant (280) Aug 8, 2012 Minnesota

    It is definitely a slippery wire to walk on. Sometimes I have to stop myself when I am out beer shopping. Temptation is there but usually my better judgement prevails.
  15. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Is the beer gimmicky or is the marketing of the beer gimmicky? Is it possible to separate the two?

    Personally I would say there is some definitely gimmick in the marketing but I would not call the beer gimmicky. With all that said I am not sure if the two can be separated even though my opinion is mixed.
    Lantern likes this.
  16. mellowmark

    mellowmark Aspirant (263) Mar 31, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Cool story.
  17. Chaney

    Chaney Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2006 District of Columbia

    In other words, you don't like Southern Tier.
    imbibehour likes this.
  18. DaKur

    DaKur Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2012 Rhode Island

    So you couldn't taste any cow balls in your beer at all?? Thats horrible. Lol. But you did say you liked it. Minus the balls and you might not like it
  19. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    I love gimmicky beers, only because every well loved and respected style once started as a gimmick, as every religion once started as a cult. What I hate is when someone charges a premium for an obvious gimmick. Rogue's Maple Bacon Bullshit is a prime example: if their bombers had plain colored packaging and a more reasonable price, you might even find more people enjoying it (maybe not), and who knows, maple bacon beer could be what Belgian IPA's were a decade ago. I want brewers to express their creativity, but not be arrogant enough to assume it's the next coming of an imperial stout.

    And then there's shit like this, which defies respectability.
    JackCrow and codysjb like this.
  20. DaKur

    DaKur Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2012 Rhode Island

    On a more serious note I wouldn't call it a gimmick but an attempt by the brewery to stick out in the growing industry. There are only so many beers a store can or will order. Newport Storm '12 brewed with chipotle and habanero. No gimmick that shits hot in the throat. That was one beer that stuck out outta 100+ beers at the brew fest I attended.
  21. Chelsea1905

    Chelsea1905 Devotee (452) Sep 3, 2008 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Dark "IPA"

    How can it be a Dark Pale ale?
    beertunes likes this.
  22. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    Hendrix was an innovator, most of his stuff was very solid but even he thought some of his playing was gimmicky. He thought tricks like playing behind his head and setting the guitar on fire were gimmicks that detracted from the music. Beer is the same. Gimmicky beers that get hyped detract from the solid beers a brewery may have that don't get the publicity.
  23. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Ah yes, the Dark Pale Ale. Gimmicky since at least 1888.
  24. loafinaround

    loafinaround Aspirant (296) Jul 16, 2011 New York

    I swear I still want to gather all the curious / masochistic LI BA's who want to try the voodoo bacon together and we'll collectively pop one bottle, take one sip, wretch, and then say "yay, we did it!". These threads make me sooo curious!
  25. smartassboiler

    smartassboiler Champion (871) Apr 9, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I'm not sure why you'd waste emotion simply because you don't like a beer that the brewery probably deemed as creative. You try the beer, you don't like it, you move on. Or you try it, enjoy it, and you're glad you did. I guess I'm lost as to why it would frustrate or anger you?
  26. gcamparone

    gcamparone Meyvn (1,435) Dec 6, 2011 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    Well said sir.
  27. TheBeerShop

    TheBeerShop Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2012 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Indeed... VERY GOOD points.

    Yet still, I hear what the OP is saying, and I get it. Sometimes it makes me laugh to see some of the failed tries. But as a craft beer store owner who looks at the market as a whole, and sees these beers come and go, its HARD AS F*CK to penetrate the market going up against breweries that have nearly unlimited resources. So if they get creative with names, beer styles, labels etc. etc. just remember that the BIG guys own 85+% of the overall market. Many breweries will gladly do what it takes to get their beer to you.
    Cvescalante likes this.
  28. jtierney89

    jtierney89 Initiate (0) Aug 15, 2011 New Jersey

    based on kzoobrews definition of gimmick, stone enjoy by is a gimmick beer, forcing you to drink and buy the beer before a certain date. What happens if i dont? does the beer blow up? I tried my enjoy by 12/21 after the date, tasted fine.
  29. jtierney89

    jtierney89 Initiate (0) Aug 15, 2011 New Jersey

    also, as a smoked beer, voodoo bacon maple is very good in my opinion. It just so happend to be finished with maple which is a nice little addition and change up to the style.
  30. Uniobrew31

    Uniobrew31 Zealot (554) Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Dude, Putting bull nuts in the brew kettle is definitely a gimmick.
  31. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    What does that have to do with Stone Enjoy By?

    Ignoring that, was the beer only being brewed as a method of drawing attention and sales? What happened to having some fun? Again, the gimmick label is determined by intention in my mind.
  32. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    One person's "gimmick" is another person's "pushing the envelope." I too love traditional styles of beer that are well executed. However, I think there should always be room on the shelf for the Maple Bacon Donut stuff as well. Where would beer brewing be without experimentation?Aging beers in bourbon barrels was probably viewed as a gimmick once too.
    RobertColianni and Revenant like this.
  33. Chelsea1905

    Chelsea1905 Devotee (452) Sep 3, 2008 Washington
    Beer Trader

    True, but going by your very own standards of "A device employed to cheat, deceive, or trick" don't you think it is somewhat deceptive to call anything Dark a Pale Ale?
  34. randylangford

    randylangford Zealot (572) Jun 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    If you don't want what you perceive as a "gimmick" don't buy it. If the vast majority agrees with you then there will be no market. Personally, I like it. Rogue Voodoo MB was a nice smoked beer. The brewers want to have some fun sometimes and I'm buying it unless it has bananas ... I hate bananas. Cheers
  35. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    While an oxymoron, it is a better descriptor than any style name that has been made up since. The style originated with the intention of a beer being flavored as a pale ale but black in color. A Pale Ale is a ubiquitous style and everyone knows what black is, combining terms gives an accurate description. There is no intention of deception, simply doing the best to describe what is there.

    You want something misleading? Cascadian Dark Ale. Far more misleading.
  36. Chelsea1905

    Chelsea1905 Devotee (452) Sep 3, 2008 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Strangely I was thinking of CDA's as I typed my original whim
  37. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Why use Webster's secondary (2c) definition when the primary one (2a) fits?

    2 a : an important feature that is not immediately apparent : catch

    In this context, a large majority of the top popular craft beers on BA could be seen as "gimmicky," in that they exhibit some important feature (barrel aging, extremely high IBUs/ABVs, non-traditional additions, etc.) that would not be immediately apparent in the context of the base style (stout, IPA, etc.).
  38. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    In that context the definition certainly fits many craft beers. But does the definition fit the context in which most apply the term in conversation?
    RobertColianni likes this.
  39. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I think there has been, and continues to be, so much one-upmanship in the craft beer "conversation" around attaching "important/not immediately apparent" features to your beers (with BrewDog taking it to the most -- intentionally -- absurd levels), that the fact that so many craft beers fit the basic definition has been lost.
  40. Uniobrew31

    Uniobrew31 Zealot (554) Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I was referencing the first post. There was a story about a rocket mountain oysters in beer. The enjoy by might have been a gimmick or sarcasm as a response to requests for bottle dating?
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