It does warm the heart when the buyer is noted as a player in the marketplace for beer. We have heard calls from certain brewers that the public should pay more and that the brewer should have the right to be rich and famous... even a rock star. But just as we learn that one does not become a rock star without being able to play guitar so too we learn that there is no point in having a stupidly expensive beer if the beer buying public won't spend their hard earned cash on it:
The restaurant have sold three bottles of the extravagant beer but a single bottle has stood unopened in the cellar for over a decade. Now Muir faces the dilemma of giving the bottle away or waiting to sell it. He added: "We have sold three bottles in the past - but we have had one unopened in the cellar for quite some time and I'm not sure what to do with it. "I would rather give it to our loyal customers than some city boys who sometimes walk in and say give me the most expensive beer that you have. "I don't know whether to sell it or give it away to some of our locals and let some beer connoisseurs try it as well."
Fortunately, the beer that costs 700 pounds has 12 litres. Meaning it has 24 to 36 servings inside. Making for a 29 or 30 pound pint. Now, we know that there is no pint of beer that is worth 29 pounds. Other things need to be added to the liquid or need to be characterized about the liquid to justify a fifth of that price - things like marketing, bells and whistles and snob appeal. In this case, we are told it comes in a whopping big bottle. You can see that in the wonderful photo to the upper right credited to Newstream published in today's Daily Telegraph - they had to use a fisheye lens to get it all in. In terms of a review from a photographic point of view, it is a beauty of a snapshot. But it is the subject matter of the shot we must consider. Remember the rule - if you pay too much for the package, you are a fool. Try this experiment to test the rule. Let's suggest that this 12 litres of beer could have well spent its life in a cask or in 24 half-litre bottles. Is the fluid still worth 700 UK pounds? Hardly. It is the unique format that inflates the price so let's say it suffers from a 50% big bottle markup. That factor alone makes it really a much more reasonable 350 British pound beer.
What else could be pumping up the price? Seeing as we are told that it is an 8% Belgian ale providing the tippler with "a complex taste with citric, caramel and toffee flavours with an undertone of liquorice and aniseed" we know that it is roughly comparable to about 103 to 387 beers available in the North American market according to the Wonderfulness Index.¹ It can't be the beer itself justifying the price even if in small bottles given all the comparable options beer buyers have on the menu. We have to admit that it is being sold at a hotel at a restaurant with an executive chef that may be still skewing the price. Off the top of my head, I'd say that a beer in that setting costs 3 or 4 times what it would at home. Let's split the difference and say that makes the 350 UK pound case of swanky hotel beer really a 100 pound beer at home when bought in a take away case of 24 half-litre bottles. Or 4.16 pounds per half-litre for the drink at home experience. Is that reasonable? In North America with out current currency near parity, that's about 6.70 bucks a half litre. I've paid that or more for Fuller's Vintage Ale in a pint bottle consumed at home.
All of which is to say that we do not have to have a knee-jerk reaction saying this is merely beer for rich foolish snobs. At the 700 pound price point, it is a beer for big bottle, executive chef needy snobs.
¹WI = pleasure of consumption x complexity of beer x price of beer. Each persons' WI for any beer is also affected by factors such as sustainability, place in order of drinking session, quality of company while consuming, distance to washrooms, barometric pressure and smelliness of host's dog.