Gimmicks. They are a staple of (not only) the brewing industry, at all levels. Macro brewers have their special edition labels/cans, usually in sets, celebrating an event or tied to something they happen to be sponsoring. But it's the smaller breweries who have elevated the gimmick to almost an art form.
They come in all shapes and sizes: there was this beer that tried to profit from an event the brewers opposed; beers that claim to be brewed according to some ancient recipe, even if said recipe isn't much more than a list of ingredients that were probably used to make beer and lot conjecture; beers made with animal parts or with a product that's passed through the digestive tract of an animal—excrement, by another name—and a bunch of other weird ingredients. There are also the collaborations, the manufactured scarcity, the brown paper bag events and anything that claims to be the -est, among others, too numerous to list.
We have also beers that are gimmicks to cosmic levels of stupidity: there've been a couple made with gold flakes, one made with moon dust and another made with yeast that'd been sent to space for reasons that can be best described as attention whoring.
To some extent, you can't really blame the breweries. Gimmicks, after all, have proven to be an effective way to get the name of a brewery “out there”, mentioned by lazy bloggers and writers (and some that should actually know better by now), who celebrate them as if they were the best thing since the invention of malts; or by the media, in pretty much the same fashion as a sex-tape or manufactured controversy of a D-list celebrity do.
Quite often, however, they result in inflated prices without equivalent value in return—other than being able to claim in social media that you've just come from the brown paper bag event with your three-figure IBU, double-figure ABV collaboration brewed with shit that was sent to the moon from a nuclear submarine, that is.
But let's be fair. Like taste, value is the palate of the beholder, and some people will swear that those beers are well worth the price, and hassle, because they can drink them, unlike...
Let me introduce to Mefisto, the king of gimmicks. A beer so special that, according to its maker, you aren't supposed to drink.
Mefisto, by the same people that brought you Faust Gold, is made with colloidal silver, something that quacks like Dr. oz will sell recommend to people afraid of very long words—they must have been invented by Big Pharma and Montsanto—as a cure for everything, including easily preventable diseases.
It's just brilliant! You brew the worst, cheapest sort of crap, add a few drops of what that magic water and sell it for 450CZK. And if it ends up tasting like shit, “We told you not to drink it, didn't we?”.
As I said before, though, value is a matter of perception and there must be people out there who are convinced that Mefisto's beautiful bottle is well worth the price.
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