There was an article posted today at NPR which provides a reasonable summary article on recent issues related to good beer. The best bit, spoiler, was the last bit:
In the bar, customer Rordam says even if he's sampled some upscale micro brews at $6, $7 or $8 a pint, those prices might eventually force him to go back down the ladder. "After I've had like three or four microbrews, I'll think 'wow that was $25 [or] $30, I should probably get a Bud Light now because this is getting ridiculous,'" he says.
I have pointed out more than a few times that it is a shame there isn't a good beer consumer's organization in the US like there are in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere with the goal of balancing brewers' business interests. Along with the recent insults to intelligence, mockable unnecessaries and boggling PR based customer relations, this may be a new way that US craft kills itself - communally pricing itself out of the marketplace. More than the fifteen to twenty dollar bomber at the good beer store, the $8 pint may well be the sign of the end times.
Are the echo chambers of the Craft Brewers Conference and Brewers Association causing this inflationary race? Is the message try it because you can? Sometimes I wonder if the equivalent of a major league sport's strike would purge the market of the seeming entitlement to what appear to be ten percent annual price hikes. What could cause that? The prospect of a perfectly acceptable and similar products like this sort of thing at a better price certainly appears to be the best bet. Something structural could wake the consumer up, too - like when Sam Adams gets bought out by Miller or Sierra Nevada by some tyrant's nationalized state brewery. My personal hope would be a split between small actual micro brewers and national mid-sized brewers who more and more ride on the coat tails of the small, pretending they are what they are not while also controlling the discourse. That would be just fun.
Does NPR's generic good beer customer Rordan care? Hard to say. Seems like he has 25 to 30 bucks to burn. The ten buck pint might be his tipping point. He might be running out of wiggle room. He might be getting ideas.