Are You a Brew Slut?

Probably. It’s the 21st century. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The secret word for tonight is “promiscuity.” Whether or not that is a pejorative word depends. Are you the kind of drinker (or brewer) who likes things to stay the same, or are you more excited to take that next wave and see if it smashes you on the surf or wraps you in its barrel and spits you back out in a froth of glory?

Drinker promiscuity is a rather unwieldy phrase for a phenomenon that’s well into its toddler years. It has already shaped the way many breweries release beers; some operate more like pop-up restaurants or amusement park lines than brick & mortar tasting rooms. It began with the model of scarcity (another post entirely) even before FOMO was a hashtag, when the hashtag was still the pound sign. Drinkers looked up from their pints of crystalline-malted IPA, their necks snapped westward to Santa Rosa. “Pliny’s on tap!” they cried, spilling the sticky shaker glasses on their way to that other beer bar.

But what was the second beer, the copycat that really set the wheels in motion? Chances are it was much more local (to you, wherever you are). You never got to try it. Did it even exist, or is it just a bunch of empty 5-star reviews on Untappd? Dude. The sort of fervor built up around small-batch, one-off, hyper-hyphenated beer releases is a boon for those who brew them, and a catalyst for cynicism to those who sell them (cue John Cusack High Fidelity eye roll).

“I swear, if the next thing flying off the shelf is a hazy Mexican chocolate double barrel-aged sour POG imperial IPA, I’m gonna flip my lid.”

At what point are brewers trying too hard? Consumers are an easy target at which to shoot our cathartic ray-guns of industry angst and can’t-I-just-have-a-pilsner deflation, but they’re (you’re) hardly to blame for the perpetuation of hype. It makes perfect sense that a brewery in the right social standing would perform raunchy acts in the kettle in order to sell out of a beer as soon as it’s released. With social media driving foot traffic, a well-placed Boomerang post of, say, a mannequin leg splashing into boiling wort could generate enough sales, eventually, to fund an expansion. Of course I’m being hyperbolic here, and doing a grave disservice to the consumer’s sense of propriety (or am I?). Nobody would drink a beer with mannequin in the boil; it must be dry-legged.

Faithlessly cavorting from a hand-drawn lick’n’stick labeled can of hazy IPA to a wax-dipped bottle of pastry stout to a mixed-culture sour with fruit over the course of one sitting is what makes a brew slut. I’ve done it many times; it just happens and it’s fun, and then I’m Eric Carle’s Mixed Up Chameleon in the morning. Without a definitive plan, listening to one’s tastebuds, or considering any food at hand, the brew slut ranges from beer to beer in a haze of joyous attention deficit. Flavors fall into the “intense” category, as it’s hard to pick out subtlety after drinking a glass of hop polyphenols.

The brew slut definitely has favorites, but will not be able to return to check in on them as they are either completely sold out one week later, or “past its prime.” One week later. To this armchair ethnographer, brew sluts are themselves a trend; they will mature, decide on a few choice examples of their favorite styles, and wear out a bar stool the same as everybody else, bearing fond memories of the hundreds of beers that formed the foundation for their appreciation of this particular one… right… here.

Wait, what’s that you just opened?!

beerchameleon

h/t Eric Carle, thanks for the inspiration. Sorry. 

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