Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Much Do You Pay?

I think the official internet rules are "If three people discuss a topic based on the same thing it's officially a meme." So, with my $.015 on the issue, this makes beer pricing officially a meme for the week. Tag, you're it.

Jeff Alworth wrote about Stan Heironymus's post that made note of a non-beer forum discussion about the price of a six-pack of Half Acre beer in Chicago.

And it made me realize that I've come kind of far, for better or for worse, from when I first started this site a year and a half ago. I told myself I would "tell it like it is" and "speak from a consumer's perspective" and I would "keep it real" and be the "voice of reason." And somewhere along the way that was, to quote my father, "thrown out the window."

I guess what I'm saying is that I think once upon a time, maybe even as recently as a year and a half ago, I would have raised bloody hell if I had to pay a whole $9 for a six-pack of beer. Not special beer mind you. But regular-old-beer from the small, unproven brewery down the street.

Like Stan and Jeff noted, I suspect that the average reader of this site, like the readers of their sites, don't really think twice about spending $9 for a six pack. Heck, as I'm writing this, I'm sipping on a ThermoRefur that I spent $2 on a single 12 oz bottle of.

So, without going into my own opinions and buying habits on this, how much is too much for a six-pack of your regular-old-everyday beer?


  1. I guess I stay around the $8-9 range. Generally speaking that's a 6 pack of some middle of the road local micro (NG, Capital, maybe Central Waters). Lately I have been much more willing to pay up to $12 for a 4 pack of something interesting, though. I blame Barleywine week :).

  2. As someone that just spent $18 for a 4-pack of Kentucky Breakfast Stout, I'm not sure I'm the best-equipped person to answer this question.

    However, I also bought a 6-pack of New Glarus Stone Soup for $7.99, which seemed pretty reasonable. So I guess for something sessionable/run-of-the-mill, $7-9 is alright. Once you start getting in the $10 range, it should be a seasonal/special release.

  3. NG at Woodmans just went up in price from $6.60 to $7 per six pack (when bought in batches of 4). It's still cheaper than Capital, and quite a bit cheaper than Ale Assylum, Furthermore, etc.

    Berghoff when I'm slumming, though, $10something for a 12 pack.

  4. Hey, Anonymous #1 -

    Why is NG cheaper?


    Anon #2

  5. I balk at paying more than $7-9 for a six of a local standard release. Seems like out-of-state six packs often fall in the $9-10 range, especially Cali beers like Stone or the always-eyebrow-raising 3 Floyds.

  6. I don't blanch at the $7 to $9 range for something that I've either had before or have heard good things about, but I definitely see that I'm not trying the sixers of unknowns like before. From time to time I'll pick up singles but not with the frequency that I used to try new sixers.

  7. I assume NG is cheaper because they make most of their profits on Spotted Cow / Fat Squirrel and can afford to price seasonals / unpluggeds just slightly above cost as a favor to their customers.

    Anon #3

  8. I would think that, as NG is a "regional" brewery (>10,000 bbls/yr), they benefit from sufficient economies of scale and that as a result, they enjoy a more gracious margin and can afford to compete on price. Or perhaps their biggest selling beer is quite a bit cheaper to make due to ingredient choice/recipe formulation, and therefore they enjoy a more gracious margin. And I'm thinking that the Unplugged series retails for about $8 (ok, $7.99) a four-pack, which is the equivalent of a $12 (ok, $11.985) six-pack, so I'm not sure they're doing the consumer any great favor compared to the price of any other local brewery's more expensive offerings.

    All of which is just fine: New Glarus has more than earned the right to take advantage of their status as a regional brewery, and their Unplugged series is fantastic and worth every penny. But I don't think the comparison to the local micros is apples-to-apples: I assume the other breweries don't charge you more because they want to, but because they have to.

    Of course, if you've only got $6.99 it's a good choice to buy at Woodman's and drink the cheapest good local beer you can. But if you've got $8.99, maybe it's a good choice to support the store to which you can walk and spread your dough around amongst the local brewers so they all have sufficient incentive to continue offering local consumers an awesome selection of innovative and high-quality products.

    Sincerely -

    Anon #2


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