Last Night’s Beer

Yesterday afternoon I purchased a case of beer. This in itself is unique, as I usually buy only multiple bottles or cans or six-packs of any single brand, but this particular beer was only available to me in quantities of a dozen 750ml bottles – due to Ontario sales restrictions; don’t ask! – and so I made room in my cellar space for half – to be enjoyed later on, not aged – and in my beer fridge for the rest.

And last night I popped open a cork-finished bottle to be enjoyed.

The identity of this beer is of no matter, but it is not a “rock star” beer nor is it a “stand in line and maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to buy a bottle or three” kind of beer. It is, however, more costly than what I typically pay for an IPA, at over $10 a bottle, and as such has a certain aura of “specialness” to it.

It is also magnificent.

I note all of this as a coda to yesterday’s post about the value of beer. Do I have other IPAs in my fridge? Of course I do. Did they cost less than the one I just purchased. Uniformly, yes. So why shell out over $125 for a dozen bottles? Because it is different than the rest and, in my measured and considered opinion, well worth every single penny.

To some of you reading this, it might also be worth what I spent, maybe even more, up to twice as much. Others would no doubt mock me for being suckered into such an expenditure. But for me, at this time, the purchase was one of the wisest I have made on the beer front in several weeks.

Which is at the heart of this whole value discussion we navel-gazing bloggers are having right now, the worth of any particular purchase to any one individual at any given time. I can say to you, or you to me, that Beer X is profoundly not worth standing in line and paying outrageous sums for, and you may listen to me, or me to you. Or maybe not. But neither of our actions is going to make or break the market – at best it might help out a struggling brewery, or free up some stock for a fellow beer aficionado who takes a different view of things. What it won`t do is shock the market one way or another, because these days craft beer buyers are very much like Nick Fury’s Marvel Comics nemesis, HYDRA, cut off one and two more shall take his or her place.

And that, my friends, is a profoundly good thing, of greater benefit to beer consumers as an entity than any resulting price creep is a detriment.

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10 Comments

Filed under "extreme" beer, beer blogs, beer prices, drinking quality

10 responses to “Last Night’s Beer

  1. Jeremy

    Stephen;
    I don’t think $10/750mL is really high enough to ruffle the feathers in the value discussion. Especially since in this case you are also paying a significant part of that cost in taxes and shipping costs to Ontario. I think its when you start charging $15-30+ per bottle *at the brewery* that people start to raise eyebrows. As you noted in your other post, beers like Angels Share have legitimate underlying costs (e.g. barrels) that escalate the costs. Some do not (in which case you get into debates about “what the market will bear” etc. )

    While I understand and empathize with the labour and efforts of the brewer, I ultimately don’t really care how much effort or cost went into the beer though, I care about what it tastes like. A $20 beer that tastes amazing is a better deal than a mediocre $5 beer.

  2. A HYDRA reference in a beer post? Definitely a first. I still am taken aback at how much comics minutiae has become a useful cultural reference.

    I’m curious as to why you declined to name the beer. I don’t think that would detract from the post…then again, neither did not naming it, aside from the little tiny bit of of my attention given over to curiosity.

  3. Waaay back when I jumped in the “value” discussion I stated my personal preference as:

    “…Let’s have a little rule, then, shall we: a big format beer that costs more than, say, ten bucks has got a problem or at least needs some ‘splainin’. Same with the 12 buck six pack. …”

    So, you are right there and your post is exactly right. I was checking through receipts last week (as the tax man cometh) and saw I spent around $339 USD on one purchase at Finger Lake Beverages – which didn’t include the seven hours return travel or the tax at the border. No regrets. It’s the nearest source of gueuze and other good good things. All good value or at least a good lesson.

    I think we all recognize that – even with the natural market tension between consumer and producer – there is a mutual value as well as geekery going on. It is when the value proposition become unbalanced by external factors within the brewer’s control that it is questionable. This could be a line up or claims to celebrity. Equally, when there are external factors not in the consumer’s control, ther ought to be complaint… just not to the brewer. So I will complain about middleman markup and improper taxation as well. It’s what a consumer should do.

    But a consumer also needs to take pleasure in the consumption whether it’s good beer or those Nick Fury and his Howlin’ Commandos comics I have not pulled out of their plastic bags for decades. So I applaud your beer decision.

    • stephenbeaumont

      Beer Gods take note: Alan is agreeing with me! And on a matter of value and price, no less!

      (As an aside, I sold all my comics waaay back in university, probably for beer money. No regrets, though.)

  4. Hey – you agreed with me once… you just couldn’t agree that we had agreed.

  5. Ian

    I look at it from the other end. After taxes are finished, the spouse and I look at all of our expenditures for the year. The totals for beer was rather shocking. When the total was put into perspective, it was not that big of a deal. This is my/our passion. Good food and good drink with friends and family brings us great happiness. I plan to revisit this rationalization after a beer run to Seattle.

  6. I don’t see anything wrong with someone paying $10-20-40-80 for a bottle of beer. It’s their money, their time and they can do with that as they see fit. And if they truly enjoy the beers they buy with that money and they think they were worth that much money, who are we to argue that?

    And if a brewer or anyone else wants to charge me $10-20-40-80 that’s also their choice, and I have no problem with that because I choose whether I will spend that much money or not. As I’ve said in my take on this issue today, a brewery is a business and as such they will try to maximise their profits. If their strategy for that involves selling beers that might be overpriced, that’s their thing, and frankly, I’d rather them do that than dumb or cheap down their products.

  7. Ted

    I regularly pay $20-$25 per 750ml for beer, mainly because I ship it in from the East/West coasts. Allagash, Russian River, Lost Abbey, etc you are not going to find for sale in Manitoba! So, the way I look at it is, I’m just paying the “living in Manitoba tax” ! :p

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