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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Knut Albert -

There are lots of craft brewers around the globe, and the price structures abre very different. When I visit Brussels or Amsterdam, I can fill my suitcase with splendid beers from brewers big and small at around 3 Euros a 35 cl bottle. When I go to Italy, I usually have to pay around 10 Euros for a 70 cl bottle, and the price does not tell me anything about the quality of the beer.

I think the markets vary a fair bit, but it is quite clear that the brewers in the Low Countries have a smaller margin - making for tougher times if the hops and malt get too expensive.
The Italian micro brewers seem to be tapping into the wine market. If you pay €10 for a decent bottle of wine, you should be prepared to fork out the same for a decent beer.

But if the Italian micro brewers want to get out to the masses, they would have to brew bigger batches and sell them at lower prices.

I talked to the people running a brewpub here in Norway a week ago. They try to link into the local market the Italian way, offering their beer with local food such as cheese and cured meat. They aim to supply farm outlets and small hotels in the region with beer, and they are in no hurry to be visible in the capital. I asked if they have considered local malt, but it would be prohibitively expensive - it would be about twice the price of the malt they get from the UK now.

It can be done. The Nils Oscar brewery in Sweden grow all their own barley and seem to be doing all right. And cooperative efforts could mean that you could try out old varieties of barley and wheat, try out with smokiness and roasting temperatures. But that would be more for creating new and exciting beers, less for brewing their staple session beers. But what do I know?

Adam @ Beer Bits 2 -

These words really hit me hard.

"For the most part consumers can replace product X with product Y and have a similar enjoyment."

So, is that because X and Y both have alcohol or because the vast majority of people are not too interested in exploring the flavors of craft beer. (or both?)

I also like the last paragraph related to making a business into a hobby. Very thought provoking. I've pondered that scenario a great deal.

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Alan -

On the X and Y point, I really mean that there is a heck of a lot of good craft beer out there. If I go to my favorite store in Ithaca, I can buy 600 to 800 different fine brews. If some of them start to figure out ways to save on costs while maintaining standards, they will get a price advantage. In that sense, craft beer is fungible to a large degree, meaning to the consumer - even the craft beer consumer - there is substantive equivalence. So if a year from now, Stone IPA is 12 bucks a bomber and Smuttynose is 8 instead of them both now being six, Smuttynose wins. The same goes for imports. Why would I buy that Baltic porter for nine bucks when many just as interesting are available for five? People will vote with their wallet and the good craft brewer with a strong sense of business will know that and take a wide path avoiding the neighbour of the snob "consumers should pay more" stuff.

Adam @ Beer Bits 2 -

Oh...I see. Thanks for the link to Fungibility. A see your point. I think I agree.

Is it the same with something like cola? I used to buy cheaper cola instead of Coke or Pepsi, because it was good enough. Is cola fungible? Maybe I need a lesson in economics.

I can also see how government could play a larger role in mucking up this system. How do you account for regional beer laws and their effects? I guess you have a bunch of different little economies out there skewed one way or the other.

Ok..my brain hurts...