Thursday, July 03, 2008


Here's something that puzzles me; how do drinkers interpret value for the purchase of a pint of draught, or a bottle, or can of beer?

A lot of this has to be subjective and I'm sure that it's different for each individual. Recent increases in raw material and energy costs are driving up the cost to brew, package, and distribute beer so I think that cost is starting to become more of an issue for even craft brew drinkers. At Philadelphia Brewing Co we've kept our costs low by retaining our local market focus and self distribution.

So, as a consumer, is a $3.00 pint of Newbold IPA or Rowhouse Red a better value than a $3.00 pint of Kenzinger or Walt Wit? As a drinker I would say no. For me, grabbing a couple pints of Kenzinger at a good price while out at a bar is what I'm looking for. I personally don't often drink bigger beers while I'm out - I usually save that for when I'm home or at least close to home :)

For me a $3.00 pint of Kenzinger is what I'm looking for so that represents the greater value.

I can tell you, and it may be obvious, that Newbold IPA and Rowhouse Red cost more to brew than Kenzinger and Walt Wit just because of the greater amount of malt and hops required for those bigger beers. Maybe value for beer is sorta like price+features for some folks. So maybe getting a pint of IPA for $3.00 which naturally costs more to brew than a K├Âlsch represents a better value for some people.

I know that some folks lump beers into categories based on their style. Is an imported Belgian Abbey Ale worth more than a domestically brewed Abbey-style Ale? If your view of beer is bound to style categories, do you differentiate between an all-malt craft brew like Kenzinger and a low cost lager that uses corn or rice and a whiff of hop extract in order to keep cost (and flavor) low?

What about packaging? Are we conditioned to expect to pay less for beer in a can than we would pay for beer in a bottle? You can get some damn fine craft brewed beer in cans now. Sly Fox and Oskar Blues both make excellent craft brewed beer in a can using the finest malts and hops.

So, we all make value judgments on our beer purchases. How do you make yours?

Maybe I just need to have another Kenzinger! :)



POPPY said...

OK Dean,
A little different system here.
When I am out I ALWAYS grab a PBC or two at the start to "show my colors" and suppout "my brewery" at the pub. But..... the "big boys" are NOT what I drink at the ranch so I will grab at least one Bastard, Founders, or Green Flash before my grand exit to celebrate a night out! Value is what I look for in my "lawnmower" and party brew. Kenzinger during the hot day or Newbold IPA in the cooler evenings.

Dean Browne said...

Yo Art! You are certainly a man of integrity and good taste!

The Science Pundit said...

Well Dean, for me it's a more complex formula than what you've laid out. First, there are several levels. There's the level of capitalist concern, the level of personal taste, and the level of momentary circumstance.

When it comes to personal taste, you know that I'm a Rowhouse Red man. It is my beer of choice regardless of its relative cost of production. If all beers are priced the same, I will usually (see 'momentary circumstance')go with a Red. If the Red is more expensive than the others, then at some point I'll start drinking other beers.

Capitalist concern goes beyond drinking less favored beers because of price. I will on occasion drink a beer that I like less than my favorite beer because it is an expensive beer at a really good price. This would be a combination of "this expensive beer is never this cheap; let's take advantage" and "I don't normally drink this because it isn't worth it, but at this price I'll have a couple."

Momentary concern is everything from what the selection is to the atmosphere at the bar/restaurant/party/etc. Maybe the cheaper beer that I like quite as much is much cheaper. Maybe the circumstances call for a lighter beer

In summary, I listen to my gut and drink whatever I feel like at the time. ;-P