A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Matt -

I disagree with your assessment of Boston Beer Company. I can only think of a couple Samuel Adams beers that I would describe as being less than exceptionally well made (the Cherry Wheat, Cranberry Lambic, and Hefeweizen). While not all of their beers are exciting, or even inspiring, the vast majority are at least really well put together beers. Some (the Doppelbock, Cream Stout, Old Fezziwig, Scotch Ale) are absolutely fantastic.

Granted...this is mostly a matter of opinion.

Alan -

Well, that is pretty much what I would say about Saranac, too - well put together but ultimately unexciting <i>to me</i>. I am not suggesting they are not competent nor that we should not be grateful for where they brought the industry back in the day but I am also aware of how few beers of theirs I buy compared to other similarly priced craft brews.

Stan Hieronymus -

Just to be clear, in the post you are referring to I wrote, "If we start paying $30 for beer just because of the price tag looks impressive then Alan has a right to complain."

I kind of thought I was agreeing with your plea to consider "why" when paying whatever price.

Now, to the discussion further down in the comments. If we talk about beer as a commodity, start discussing how much it costs per ounce, then I don't like the path we are headed down.

To turn the tables on you - and I hate to do this with Jolly Pumpkin beers because I am a believer.

A six-pack of Bam Biere costs me about twice what a six-pack of Firestone Walker Double Barrel would (I'd have to buy in in California). Is it twice as good? No. Both are great. There are times I would choose one, times the other. So why doesn't Bam sell for the same price as Double Barrel?

It is curious that you use Rob's question to kick this off, since he is asking what you should pay for Westvleteren beers. Comparing the price at the brewery door to the price in the U.S. gets confused these days because of the dollar/euro. But three years ago the Westy 12 costs about $1.65 to go at the brewery cafe (and less by the case - I use that example because that's when I was there and know the exchange rate then) and $20 in the U.S.

Strictly market forces at work.

Alan -

I don't think I am disagreeing on this so much as working out what I am thinking to see if there is anything there. The newer price range has been accompanied with a range of new arguments to either explain or justify their existence. These posts are showing the work, putting the hypothesis to the test. [And if I suggest that we are being Socratic or having a dialogue like in the <i>Complete Angler</i> then I can give off an air or cleverness that might or might not be there.] I am also using my professional buying experience both as a procurement lawyer and a lapsed cut flower trader to supply what I claim to be principles in this search for substance. That does not mean I am correct, however, just curious.<p>I do recognize your point about the costs of transportation but, using Jolly Pumpkin again, it is noted also that retail in Michigan is 8 bucks a 750 ml compared to 6 at the brewery and I understand I can order it for 10 bucks through the Ontario distributor. Fantastic value and the transportation component makes sense. I can see it in the spreadsheet of contributing expenses in my mind's eye. <p>That is how a market force should work. But it is the other forces which are not in line and are, to use the Westvleteren example, what I believe the Brother Joris was speaking about in this week's Wall Street Journal article. Bubble economics are market forces as well. It is not enough to say that there are new input costs - you have to explain what they are if I, as a buyer, am going to be able to assess, first, if they are even credible and, second, whether they add value that supports the price hike. The first means that if I see the same new technique add 50% cost from one vendor and 200% to another I know that the higher priced product has credibility issues. The second means if I see that the issues are credible but have out-priced the product relative to comparable peers. These, too, are market forces.<p>So when we are approached as beer buyers with new claims to market value, is it not incumbent upon us to be canny buyers? Of course it is. If claims are made such have been floated - artistic expression, pride, tables of suits with bloated expense accounts - we have every right to question the phenomena. We also know there are wonderful beers that pass the scrutiny. JP is one of those brewers for me. We also know that there are wonderful beers that do not and are merely over-priced for the value you get out of it. This perfectly good Danish porter is one of those for me. And, of course, the histories are full of stories of that other class, too, of not wonderful beers that failed in the marketplace.<p>We have to remember whenever we hear the phrase "market forces" that we as buyers are players in the market and can make the market react just as vendors can by assessing the elements of those forces which are at play.

Alan -

There is another great thread at the Beer Advocate on craft beer and the new price range here.