Is Craft Beer Getting Too Expensive?

HopBombs Away!

My buddy over at The Logo-Mat recently read my post on Kentucky Breakfast Stout and decided to get some for himself.  He seemed to like the beer, but he commented about the fact that it was 19 bucks a four pack (I believe his exact words were that he was worried his “wife would disown” him because of the price).

This is a completely rational reaction.  I have often commented on how expensive craft beer is.  I talked about it with Hopslam.  I talked about it with this recent batch of KBS (I didn’t even buy any KBS last year because I thought it was outrageous).  Even before I started this blog, I wrote a guest post on the Show-Me Beer Blog talking about the high price of Schlafly’s Extra Stout.  I am sympathetic to the wallet, but I also love beer.  And good beer comes at a price–that’s just the way it is.  Here’s how I learned to “Stop Worrying and Love the HopBomb”.

My feeling is that the only reason craft beer seems too expensive is because we are conditioned to the 6 dollar six pack.  When you triple the expected price and lower the quantity (as in the case of KBS’s $19/4 pk.), you get Matt’s reaction (that “ludicrous”) and mine last year (“outrageous”).  But when you forget about your conditioning, the price breakdown is really very simple.  Here’s how I rationalize it:

  • Wine is generally packaged in 750 mL bottles.
  • 750 mL is equal to 25.3 fluid ounces.
  • A four pack of KBS is equal to 48 fl. oz.,
  • This is equal to about 1.8 bottles of wine.
  • If you were to compare the retail price of KBS (18.99/4 pack) to a wine, you’d basically be talking about a $9 bottle of wine (give or take).
  • Sam’s Club sells wine for this much.

If you don’t balk at a $9 bottle of Kendall Jackson Merlot, why would you for KBS?  The comparisons continue:

  • Bud Select is generally about $6 a six pack
  • The ABV of Bud Select is 4.3%
  • The ABV of Kentucky Breakfast Stout  is 11.2%
  • 11.2/4.3= 2.6
  • So, essentially in every bottle KBS you are getting (at least in terms of ABV) 2.6 Bud Selects

When you compare it in the above manner, however, you HAVE to account for taste…otherwise it doesn’t work.

  • When something is more expensive, we generally consider it to be of higher quality (Mercedes-Benz, Apple Computers, organic foods, etc.) –you get what you pay for
  • Bud Select is $1 a bottle and KBS is $4.75

So the question is…Does KBS taste 4.75 times better than Bud Select?  I think if Imperial Stouts are your style (and really even if they aren’t), the answer is unequivocally…yes.  If you ask me, probably way more than 4.75 times better.

    What does this mean?  Probably nothing.  If you are a fan of light lagers and would prefer to spend you hard earned money on other things than beer, you certainly have the ability to do so.  This is simply the rambling rationalization of a self professed beer lover.  This is how I sleep at night.  If you would like to feel more comfortable with your “outrageous” and “ludicrous” beer purchases, I would urge you to adopt the above philosophy and remember, “Good things cost more.  Period.”

    What do you think?  How do you sleep at night?


    4 responses to “Is Craft Beer Getting Too Expensive?

    1. The wine comparison will be enlightening to the wife, so thanks!

    2. The wine comparison is a good one. Beer lovers are lucky that we can drink a world class beer for $10-15 or less for 750ml. Whereas for a wine drinker, you’d be on the Bud Select level at that price.

      I’m always perplexed by the liquor store clerk who can’t believe that you’re spending that much on a six or four pack (Founder’s Nemesis was one example). I bet they wouldn’t think twice if someone came up with a $30-40 bottle of wine.

      My favorite justification for an expensive bottle of beer is thinking about buying a beer at a sporting event. People don’t blink an eye to buy a Miller Lite for $8 at a football game, but that same person thinks you’re crazy for buying a $5/12oz single.

      • My big fear is that with the growing popularity of craft beer there will be folks trying to maximize profit vs. making good beer. I don’t mind paying for quality beer as long as it actually is.

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