This month represents the 21st anniversary of Mike Mignola’s introduction of Hellboy to the world. Since it was created, it has branched in to a series of ongoing comics – including several spin-offs, two pretty damned awesome movies featuring the directorial talent of Guillermo Del Toro, and a whole whack of branded items from toys to cigarette lighters. To celebrate “Big Red” becoming legal drinking age, the lovely people at Rouge have created a signature label which is currently available for pre-order.
While I could easily explore the idea of branded sales and specifically the enormous product-line that a property like Hellboy has expanded to, what I’m more interested in talking about right now is alcohol. Now, to be fair it could be a thing that has existed since the Golden Age of Comics and I just wasn’t aware of it… but it’s only within the last 2 years that I’ve become aware of the trend of nerd-culture items getting their own brew (or in some cases wine).
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to cash-in on an emerging marketplace. Obviously “nerd chic” has become a thing, as much as I hate to admit it. Labelling your products to appeal to the burgeoning consumer base that is cattle-like in their desire to buy things with a “clever” reference on it is just good business. The only concern that I have, nerd and alcoholic both, is that the product is worthy of the nerd-title it receives. It’s all well and good to slap “Game of Thrones” on the bottle… but if it tastes like you figured out how to bottle the liquefied scent of a three-hour gym sweat, well, no one wins that game.
I haven’t had Rouge’s Red Right Hand yet, so I obviously cannot speak to its quality. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it lives up to 21 years of awesome comics and leave it at that.
Actually, if I’m being honest here (which I probably should be) the spectrum of nerd-themed ales I’ve sampled is woefully narrow. I will say that, so far, most of my experiences have been positive. So I suppose the real purpose of this post is to reach out to the internet en masse and hear from beer-drinkers the world over and get a better idea of their thoughts on this new trend of cashing in on nerd-cred for the purpose of brew.
Here, I’ll start us off with the couple that I’ve had so far:
It’s been a while since I had the Black Sheep premium ale.
I remember coming across this one late last year, during the fall. Generally speaking, I’m the kind of beer drinker that’ll pick something up based on an interesting (or in some cases, just new) label. I hadn’t come across this Monty Python inspired ale before, so it seemed like a mandatory purchase.
Unfortunately, it was picked up during a particularly adventurous bottle run and was one of about 10 new beers that I was going to work my way through and see if I liked.
A full review might not be in the cards, but I do remember it was a wheat ale with a bit of a fruit taste to it, which generally isn’t my thing. I also remember that it wasn’t something I actively hated. For people that are fans of wheat ales I’m sure it’s a perfectly good beer. So not something that hurts the idea of a brewery being tied to a nerd-property.
Now, this one was a recent experience. A friend had brought some over for a game night and as host I was (hopefully) entitled to a bottle of the brew. Ommegang’s Fire and Blood is a LOT more to my taste, a nice rich, dark, red ale. It drank so damned smooth that if it was a regular at my liquor store it might be a regular in my fridge as well.
That’s something to aspire to, as far as I’m concerned: A gimmick beer that you can drink on the regular.
So my experiences are positive, which is the complete opposite of what I would have expected from gimmicky cash-ins on licensed materials… but to be fair I haven’t had a Duff Beer yet (which I assume tastes like someone dumped coffee grounds in a Budweiser).
I’m curious, have you ever bought a themed beer or wine? What was the result?