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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Velky Al -

I have to admit that price is becoming something of an issue for me. An example: on Saturday I went to Strangeways Brewing in Richmond, VA and had a flight. 6 x 5.5oz pours of their beers cost me $22, since they charge between $- and $5 for each individual sampling (ffs, $5 is the standard price for a pint!!). When I asked the ever patient Mrs V if she fancied a pint, as we were killing time due to my illiteracy, we looked at the beer list and most beers were priced between $8-10 for a 13oz pour, or $14 for a 20oz pint, and which point, well I am sure you can imagine the words that came forth and multiplied.

We then wandered to a pub a couple of miles down the street, and the same beer that was $14 or a pint at the freaking brewery, was $4 for a half pint.

Does this qualify as gouging, or am I insufficiently cool to realise that my hard earned cash should just be given up to the craft beer gods for their enrichment?

Craig -

I see one as a result of the other—that is overcrowding being a cause of price gouging and, as you say, manipulation. Perhaps it's not the sole cause, but in my opinion a significant contributor.

Alan -

Fortunately, it is not the only effect of crowding. As big craft tries to make itself look artisanal (as funny as Shock Top really), it puts inflationary pressure into the market attracting opportunists to follow. But others stay at a more honest price point making the avaricious stand out while gaining their own market share.

Craig -

Exactly. It's a self-perpetuating cycle and a wholesale manipulation of the market. There's an artificial and inflated demand, perpetuated by gimmicks, one-offs, and fanboys which in turn hikes prices, encouraging smaller breweries to open and participate in similar practices. That's just the tip of the manipulation iceberg. I fear that the money may be good now, but it's an artificial stability. To add insult to injury, many of those new breweries opening are being opened by people who simply shouldn't be in business in the first place.

Also, it's not just that there is 3,000 breweries in the U.S., it's that 1000 of them have opened in the last few years.

Alan McLeod -

A mystery comment starting with this was deleted:

"I don't mind paying extra for a good pint. The real problem is that much of (or dare I say, most ..."

DavidS -

"Making well informed decisions about the best value for your drinking dollars is not easy in a marketplace where contesting the wisdom of the branding consultants is frowned upon. "

Surely it's not that hard - buy beer, drink beer, if beer was good value for money, buy it again, if beer was poor value for money, don't buy it again, if brewery is frequently poor value for money don't buy from that brewery again.

By contemporary standards, beer is actually pretty close to perfect competition - there are plenty of brewers around chasing after your money, and it's pretty easy to chose to spend that money on the beer that gives you what you perceive to be the best value for it. And consequently, as you point out yourself, as well as people charging top dollar for hype and brand and exclusivity to people who are willing to pay for it, there are also people selling great beer at sensible prices.

Alan -

By that logic I am broke having bought all the $30 rip offs. I want a strategy to not buy the foolish beer altogether. I have to be able to learn from past mistakes. So how about an alternative. Buy only beers below a certain price point until you run out of interesting beers. Then add a couple bucks per six and do the same. If we all did that... what a wonderful world that would be. That is basically how CAMRA ensures UK cask is cheap and available.