It's like a new sort of temperance - making sure you treat good beer with the deference we are told is clearly due... and only the deference we are told it is due - as this article preciously represents in any number of ways:
Brewers spend a great deal of time labeling, even hand-numbering, these releases, pouring them in hushed dining rooms with chef-paired dishes, and speaking in a new lexicon of beer terminology. Are some brewers merely aping the outrageous price hikes and marketing-motivated affectations of wine? Perhaps. But many beers are worthy of the cellar; as Kelewae says, “Aged beers can be a remarkable experience.” What’s more, a move toward extravagance isn’t so much a modern fad as a return to beer’s high-society past. (Catherine the Great of Russia, for instance, commissioned age-worthy, English-brewed imperial stout for her court.) But the right beer, aged properly, should be an enjoyable sensory experience to be savored with good friends, not a furtive, costly, clammy-handed acquisition.
The flow of financial logic in last week's Slate article by Christian DeBenedetti frankly escaped me. It is OK for certain groups to put upward pressure on beer price but not others. Brewers, restaurateurs, monks? No problem? People who pay retail? No way! Me? Do I buy inflated nerdy crafty beer on eBay? Of course not. But do I listen to brewers when they tell me how I can and cannot buy and dispose of the beer I buy? Not a chance.
One of the most off-putting aspects of the recent Westvleteren 12 mania, actually modestly priced at the brewery, was how reselling at a huge premium was reserved to the Godly brewers... by the Godly brewers. And what has aging beer got to do with chefs and hushed tones? It just takes a basement, not all that. Beer is funny stuff. Like any gemstone it can be rare but, also like a gemstone, it is fungible. One can be neatly replaced by many others. We are told it is food, liquid bread but in the wrong hands it is prone to the overlaying of so many values - including those making it a medium of conspicuous consumption. Values as value to others in the supply chain. DeBenedetti describes eBay auctions both the "wisdom of crowds" and "collective insanity" but, if we are honest, far more fans of good beer are dropping large sums on overly priced boxed single bottles and caged cap beers at stores and bars than any are over the internets. Why is that these behaviors not more cringe-worthy? Because our betters say so?
Deary me. I wonder how many would be as interested in the same fluid at half the price?