I'm not sure where I first heard the term "Rock Star" used in reference to a brewer but the phrase has certainly been around a while, as this seven year old post over on Stonch confirms. It was almost certainly conjured up by an over-zealous marketing department, even if the example referenced above wasn't the first occurrence.
Recent events got me thinking about the increasing popularity of 'craft' beer and the evolution of beer culture in here in the UK. In the US, people queuing for hours on end or paying many hundreds of dollars to join exclusive clubs in order to obtain the latest limited releases from revered brewers or breweries is not uncommon. In most cases, the demand for such beers is driven not by the brewery selling them but by consumers who've rated and raved about them online. I'm sure there are exceptions, however.
This becomes self fuelling - in order to meet this demand as fairly as possible, breweries resort to ticketed events or online-only sales, the latter of which seems to have naturally extended into online 'clubs' where you an pay an annual fee up front to secure the loot. The club approach is the one I find hardest to reconcile personally. In some cases, you're agreeing to buy beer which may not have even been brewed yet. Beer which could be mediocre or worse. Are we as 'craft' beer consumers at the point where we buy into the idea of a beer, or splash out blindly based solely on "Rock Star" reputations or because we simply must have this new release in case it's as good as that much heralded and coveted batch from 3 years ago - the one that's impossible to find now but was basically the Best. Beer. Ever?
I don't think we're at that point yet here in the UK. Yes, there have been instances where demand for beer has far outstripped supply, leading to online scrambles, imploding websites and the inevitability that many therefore miss out. However, I can't recall any examples where that has been down to a brewery over-marketing a product.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss this with two brewers who've experienced online scrambles for their own brews. I'll share their thoughts in a future post but it quickly became clear to me that the concept of being a "Rock Star" was not one they were comfortable with or could even comprehend. In both cases their only concern was that the beer meets the expectations of those who'd joined the rush to secure those coveted bottles.