Diddy has his DeLeon tequila. Marilyn Manson has his Mansinthe absinthe. And now the three brothers that make up Hanson — the 1990s teenybopper musical phenomenon — have Mmmhops beer.
The pale ale launched regionally last year in the Hansons’ home state of Oklahoma but became available online for the first time earlier this month. Middle brother Taylor Hanson says that every bottle in stock was gone within 24 hours. (He is now 31 and, if that’s not enough to make you feel old, he has also got an 11-year-old son.)
It’s a serious project for the Hanson brothers, who most will remember from their 1997 chart-topper, “MMMBop,” which intoxicated millions of listeners and propelled the group to national stardom.
The Hansons created the recipe with the brewers at Mustang Brewing Company in Oklahoma City, which produces the ale. Expect more brews in the future from what the trio is calling the Hanson Brothers Beer Company (not to be confused with the fictional Hanson Brothers of Slapshot fame).
If you haven’t been following Hanson’s post-MMMBop career, tapping into suds might seem like a stretch for a group that once made teens and tweens swoon. But Taylor says that craft beer — local, higher quality, more meaningful — is in line with where their fan base is generationally. He may just be right: As was required of all girls in the ’90s, I had a favorite Hanson brother (Taylor, obviously). Today, I’m a fan of craft beers.
“In a way, Mmmhops is truly a mark in the sand for MMMBop coming of age,” Taylor says. “A huge group of the drinking audience across the world did grow up with that song.”
While the name is undeniably genius, the beer isn’t bad, either. For a pale ale, it’s got a bit of pop (7.5% alcohol content) and some sweetness — kind of like a Hanson song. It just won a gold medal at the World Beer Championship. “We’re aware enough of who we are and where we come from to know there’s a huge value in our history,” Taylor says, “but our history only gets us to the first drink.”
We won’t see a Hanson empire on the scale of Diddy’s, Taylor says, but the brothers have always exhibited an entrepreneurial streak: They have their own record label, do their own merchandising, run their own web properties, and organize music and beer festivals. The brothers have dabbled in food before, making boutique chocolates and roasting coffee seasonally with a roaster in their hometown.
“We really do see ourselves as a little cottage industry and a brand we want to share with other people,” Taylor says. “Especially since we started the label, we’ve realized that we’re in the Hanson business, not just the music business.”
Mmmhops is also a smart marketing move. The beer already has a built-in audience through its current base, but it’s also bound to at least pique the interest of anyone — fan or otherwise — who heard the song in the 1990s (which is pretty much everyone). It helps tell the story of where the band is today. “We’ve always been perceived as being a pretty wholesome group of guys,” Taylor says. “You don’t hear about drug abuse and rehab, but we’re also not the Osmonds.”
The beer acts as a distribution network for their music, too. Each bottle has a QR code, which gives you a free Hanson download when scanned. After struggling with my QR code reader for a bit, my iPhone started playing “Fired Up,” a song off the band’s 2013 album “Anthem.” I understand that the point is to reintroduce consumers to the Hanson of today, but for old times’ sake, I couldn’t help wishing the song had been “MMMBop.”