An entirely gratuitous and not quite related chart used to enhance credibility.
What was I thinking? Where was my head when Lew, Stan and Stephen all joined hands and sang Kumbaya (I'm a Minister's kid so that has more levels for me allowing me to use the word in that way) for the cause of higher craft beer prices. It seems that Stan was noting the prices of some Lost Abbey brews, which got Stephen thinking that "the only reason a $30 beer is considered expensive is because it's "just beer" rather than wine" which made Stan say "she’s backing wines in the teens and above - and saying we should pay more for beer. Which we should..." to which Lew said:
And Beaumont’s absolutely right: don’t ask how much the beer is worth. Ask how much the experience is worth. If drinking an absolutely fabulous drink is not worth that much to you, don’t buy it. Buy something else. And don’t complain about the price being too high for you. It was just a price you weren’t willing to pay, for your reasons, which are just that.I respect these wiser and more experienced guys but, frankly, no way. Nuts to that. They have made a leap I just can't follow. First, beer is bread. Beer is craft, a mass product. It is not art. And, as a craft in the medium of food to boot, a consumable that depends on its destruction. Second, while I admittedly have a very high level of sensitivity to it, this line of discussion could really be taken to smack of snob (not something I associate with the three gents mentioned so please leave that alone) or at least it is an idea that is paying a visit to the Neighbourhood of Snob and, you know, is finding it somewhat attractive. Fergit it. Almost twenty years ago Andrew Barr nailed the wine trade, primarily in the UK, in his book Wine Snobbery pointing out especially how champagne created false value through the control of hype and trademark. Let's not see great beer go there. Third, snobby is a mechanism, like any branding, to make that which is not, something that is - like a 15 dollar beer. Wait for them to say if you do not get it, you don't understand it. In my current job, I have helped by new technologies so I can see that one coming from a mile away.
But to be fair and, as this is where I wash the laundry, I really have to admit participating in a form of snob. Before blogging and before law, I worked in the other family trade - wholesale cut flowers. Trained in Amsterdam and everything...which means I can also order beer in Dutch: "Kleintje! Meer, meer, M'neer!" And if we florists were in a pinch and needed to shift something in a hurry, top quality flowers being the most perishable commodity going, we sometimes...raised the price. Price point can be king making the $8.99 bouquet become the $13.99 one to get them out the door. [Ed.: It was the '80's, OK? People listened to Rick Astley...who I remain surprisingly fond of.] See, by making something artificially exclusive, you can increase its attractiveness. It works in law, too. Sometimes, people do not like the advice they get at 50 bucks an hour. The same advice at $250 can be surprisingly well received. Go figure.
Hey - let's be clear. I am all for the hard work of the great craft brewers we love being compensated in a meaningful and generous way. I also, however, believe in an honest beer at an honest price. The theater of the mind that is craft beer only exists in the drinking - it is, after all, the drinker who is noble. So please tell me the craft beer movement is more than a way to convince people that authentic is rare therefore pricey. 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. While we may quite rightly drink a rare beer that is more or we may also be paying for the service - which is quite rightly earned - most craft beer isn't really that rare. It's just local to someplace you ain't. Having one at home should not be an exclusive event.