While the LCBO, this province's monopoly, may be still a bit of a head scratcher when it comes to good beer there is no question that it is certainly getting better. There is no doubt about that. Even so, popping in a main outlet just now on a Saturday night an hour before close I was a bit shocked at how the beer aisle had not been recently restocked, how there was not all that much I was really interested in purchasing. I picked up a couple of bottles of Ayinger Celebrator as well as two tins of William, a cider from Quebec. Both well price quality products to stick away in the stash.
But I was mainly there for a couple of other bottles. Bottles of wine. See, the LCBO does not skimp when it comes to stocking the wine or spirits. Good beer is actually catching up to a pretty respectable standard that sees reliable and uniformly priced products on the shelves of stores in every town and most city neighbourhoods throughout Ontario. I said the same thing almost ten years ago in one of my first beer blog posts and I feel the same today. But it really is with the wine that the government store serves the customer best. We have a couple of branches of the premium store, Vintages, which releases new limited run wines every two weeks - as opposed to every three months or so with the good beer. I was after a couple more bottles of a Spanish wine, Borsao Tres Picos Garancha 2010 for a nickel under 20 bucks each. I figure a bottle of wine provides 4 to 5 servings so it's the equivalent of a 4 to 5 dollar pint of beer. More than you would pay for a good Ontario craft beer like Headstock IPA but still less than a pint out per serving. And it's a wine that's for putting away, too.
When we speak of the relative value of decent well made wine and decent well made beer, should we not compare apples to apples? Too often I hear that good beer is under priced. I have even been told that my job writing this blog should include teaching you people that a beer might be worth even twenty bucks for 750 ml or even 500 ml. But that's for one or two servings. That's comparable to a $40 to $100 bottle of wine - well out of most people's normal price point. Aiming at that market is leaving over 90% of your potential clients behind. Not smart.
Jordan wrote a good piece today about a new brewery in rural Ontario and how it would not rock the socks off any beer nerds - but how that is exactly the right strategy. Because it recognizes that the local market knows the value of the product. Is that a lesson some good beer brewers are forgetting? In a pleasure marketplace with a wide range of affordable options - is forgetting such a thing ever in anyway wise?