As craft beer becomes more commonplace, and particular beer styles become more intricate, people have started to notice one thing. The price. Prices for six packs are creeping into the high-teens/low twenties range, especially for certain potent varieties or seasonal beers such as Bell’s recently released Hopslam. Some breweries are taking tactics from dry goods companies that keep prices low by quietly cutting out the volume of the package. Victory’s newly released Hop Ranch comes in at 9.99 but only is sold as a four pack, versus the traditional sixer.
Website Vita.mn has an article up about the prices of some (relative to them) local craft beer, and how it is affecting consumers. Some have started to shop around, much like one would a car or television, in order to find the best deal as prices can vary significantly from store to store.
Many special releases are also being sold in “Bomber” bottles, which equates to 22 fluid ounces. That makes it just short of two regular size beers, and can routinely be as high as twenty bucks. The article points out that the beer industry is still nowhere near what wine enthusiasts can pay for a bottle of “the good stuff”, but many people who may be just approaching the idea of a craft beer are being left with sticker shock. Rob and I had a discussion with a nice woman at Troegs who was slightly offended at the $27 price of Splinter Gold. On her behalf, the bartender never offered the price before he sold it to her, and many people still used to a three dollar can of Miller Lite may not be ready to shell out the funds on an unknown quantity.
That’s not to say that brewers are sticking it to their customers. Many are jumping on the bourbon-aged bandwagon that so many beer enthusiasts are into right now. Those barrels, usually leftovers of Heaven Hill whiskey, can be as much as $150 a pop and, what is news to this guy, are only able to be used once. This adds a lot of overhead to the already increasingly expensive production of beer. The high ABV beers that are brewed to stand up to the whiskey notes need a lot more grain, yeast, and hops further adding to the bill.
So where does this leave you? I for one am usually game for trying new things, but as more and more breweries crowd the cooler, and satisfaction not always guaranteed, I may wait to try something until its payday, or I hear a good recommendation. That of course leads to studying the ratings sites, which opens up a whole other affair. Let us know if you pinch your pennies and price shop, or if you routinely lighten that fat wallet on whatever you can find!