Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Honey... you spent how much on that??

Let me start off by saying that this is in no way a statement about brewery prices- this is about you, me, and all the beer geeks out there. Why do we spend so much money on beer??

I don't mean over a period of time, I mean on that $35 750ml bottle. At some point last year I decided I'd had enough and would no longer spend money on beer that was north of $1 an ounce; there are some rare exceptions, but in general I didn't see the point anymore. No more upland sours, no more bruery anniversary beers, no more mikkeller or other high-priced imports (at least some). Why did I stop? Well first and foremost I'm pretty sure I'd be dead where I stood courtesy of my girlfriend if I continued, but I realized some things. Maybe you'll completely disagree with what I have to say below,..but please do. 

Does that $1 plus an ounce beer really taste that much better than that 20¢ an ounce beer? In some cases sure, there's some really crappy $12 6 packs out there and many phenomenal $25 large format beers. Unfortunately, there's also a lot of $25 stinkers; it gets compounded by the fact that some of these stinkers don't get a lot of reviews because of prohibitive price and those that do may get a psychological ratings boost because of the price; a $25 beer better taste good right? And don't tell me you haven't been influenced by that. Let's compare apples to apples though. Take your favorite $12 6 pack up against your favorite $25 beer. Now would you rather have 25oz of one-time enjoyment or 144oz of prolonged enjoyment? 

Friendship and a Sense of Belonging
At some point or another you might just feel "it's necessary" to buy those expensive beers.... to lubricate friendships of course! A lot of times showing up with those big expensive beers to a bottle share is a great way to ingratiate yourself to a tasting group especially if you're new; don't want to be that guy shows up to a tasting with an Upland Infinte Wisdom (sorry Upland, but your non-sours are well priced) right? Bringing an expensive date the first time around or occasionally isn't a bad idea, but shouldn't be a habit or goal in my opinion; bringing 3 $25+ beers to a monthly share can add up. In my experience bringing something hard to get or obscure (doesn't mean expensive) will be appreciated just as much. Plus who knows when that expensive beer will get consumed- after everyone is drunk? After palates have been wrecked?  If you're group cares about how much you spent, you should probably find a new group. 

Or you may feel swept up in the beer geek frenzy to buy expensive beers, because everyone else is doing it and it makes you feel apart of the community in some way. You may feel left out if you didn't pick up that latest expensive beer. Again there's better ways to become a part of the community, like volunteering at festivals (bonus- the festival becomes free for you!).  

Collectibility & Rarity

I think everyone who gets "serious" about the craft beer hobby goes through the phase of wanting to buy anything that's perceived as rare or desirable and a lot of times this means expensive; I went through this big time. Nowadays there's so many of these expensive "rare" beers that you'd have to take a loan out to even attempt to pick up everything you want. I tend to pick my spots nowadays and try to grab only things from proven breweries or favorite styles that might have a unique twist (these are the exceptions I mentioned above). Otherwise the normal budget breakers, barrel aged beers and sours, are becoming a dime a dozen... well $300 a dozen. Luckily the "gotta catch'em all" fever is easier (and cheaper) to satiate now that more and more of these beers find their way to bars, festivals, and probably your friends' bottle shares.

Expensive beers remind me of the SUV fad that swept the US in the 2000's: big, sexy, everyone wanted one, but largely too expensive, impractical, and inefficient for most. I don't think expensive beers will go away by any means. While some craft beer veterans grow out of the expensive beer phase and try to find a happy place with reasonably priced "go-to" 6 packs, the constant (and growing) influx of new beer hobbyists keep that expensive boat afloat. 

Well I should stop telling you what to do with your money and go polish all 300 pieces in my glassware collection. 

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