Justifying Pricing of Beer by Tomme Arthur

Reads 11962 • Replies 81 • Started Saturday, October 27, 2007 5:45:55 PM CT

The forums you're viewing are the static, archived version. You won't be able to post or reply here.
Our new, modern forums are here:
RateBeer Forums

Thread Frozen
 
Ofortuna
beers 322 º places 12 º 17:45 Sat 10/27/2007

Great discussion going on by some well known names about why beer is priced the way it is at this site: http://beerblog.genx40.com/archives/2007/october/arecraftbeer

One of the most interesting posts was by Tomme Arthur who gave some great insights into his line of thought:

"It’s Friday afternoon and I am sitting at Cambridge Brewing Company following a rather lengthy conversation about pricing. Seems I’m guilty. Of what, I have yet determined.
Let’s start at the beginning. We at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey make numerous beers that command a premium price. This is neither by design or by accident. Stan mentioned Ebay. Our bottles of The Angel’s Share batch # 1 are approaching $100 on ebay these days. They sold originally for $12. We produced 150 cases of this beer.

More recently,I have a patron who purchased three bottles of Cable Car from a friend for $180. He was stoked to find someone willing to part with three bottles. The beer was originally offered for $30 at the Toronado during their Anniversary party.

It’s true,our beers have become more expensive, and over the years, we have developed a reputation for beers outside the boundaries. These are what I refer to as flavor driven beers.

Are they expensive? Depends upon what value you place on them. Stephen is obviously a fan and feels compelled to say so. For me, they are not expensive, they are merely priced at a higher point than conventional beer. And I don’t believe we make conventional beer."

 
Ofortuna
beers 322 º places 12 º 17:46 Sat 10/27/2007

What is conventional beer you might ask? It’s a commodity. It’s a beer produced day in and day out without regard for timing, persistance and a committment to the extraordinary. It doesn’t require things like Brettanomyces, oak barrels, Blackened Raisins or Pizza ovens for toasting malt. Nope, conventional beer isn’t all that.

I am about order a glass of Will’s Kriek de Cambridge. At 9.3% ABV and barrel aged, I doubt very much it is anything but extraordinary. It isn’t cheap but then again, I’m not even worried about the price.

Will has proven that he has the chops and doesn’t make crappy beer. My friends Vinnie, Rob, Sam, Ron and Adam all fit into this boat. We are not part of some conspiracy theorist group hell bent on raising the price point of beer. Far from it. But my baby needs new shoes sometimes.

Together, I think that we are interested in is making sure that each of us makes a living (no jaguars) and can do so for many years to come. There’s a measure of irony in this conversation. Last week, I had $5K in the bank with a mound of debt for the new brewery.

I needed to purchase glass for our Older Viscosity. The bill for the glass was 8K. This beer will retail for $10 per 375 ml cork finished bottle. It certainly is expensive. Yet, the bottle costs almost $2 for the glass, cork, hood and wire and label. That’s before we even put an ounce of the 12.5% ABV 8 months in a new boubon barrel beer in the bottle. I think it’s too cheap given the amount of effort to produce this.

Except, we’re not charging for effort. But we should be. At the end of the day, I think I’m guilty of being part of a changing craft brewing scene that places a very large amount of importance on the artistic impression in the bottle vis a vis the guy who made that bottle of beer. And make no mistake about it, I am an artist first- One who understands the rules about making beer and works at breaking them with cause.

 
Ofortuna
beers 322 º places 12 º 17:46 Sat 10/27/2007

Each and every bottle of beer we make these days bears my artistic stamp, reputation and in the case of our Cuvee de Tomme, my name. It’s an 11 year journey that allows our beers to be distinctive.

Returning to the scene of the crime,Cable Car may very well be the best bottle of beer that I ever made. We blended exactly 100 gallons of beer not paying attention to yeilds or "distributor needs." This blend yielded 35 cases of 750ml bottles and one 1/2 bbl keg. I can tell you that my experience with our beers and blending was a HUGE part of that bottle.

Surely that has to be "worth" something?

 
Mike4686
beers 120 º places 3 º 17:50 Sat 10/27/2007

now i don’t know much about anything but i think if a brewery makes a limited release beer and it all sells out rather quickly then they should just make more of it asap. its going to sell, they’re going to make money, why not just make it?

 
DaSilky1
beers 2607 º places 66 º 17:53 Sat 10/27/2007

Originally posted by Mike4686
now i don’t know much about anything but i think if a brewery makes a limited release beer and it all sells out rather quickly then they should just make more of it asap. its going to sell, they’re going to make money, why not just make it?


if economics were that simple, the term "selling-out" wouldn’t exist, and as much as people would like to believe that "selling-out" has no effect on quality, i beg to differ...Just look at Stone.

 
DirtyMartini
beers 194 º places 4 º 18:05 Sat 10/27/2007

the thing about price is people have no problem paying 100s of dollars for a 750 of wine...but cant imagine paying $15-30 for the same sized bottle of beer. why is that?? especially when considering some of these beers are taking anywhere from a year on to make.

the only difference between wine and beer in my eyes is that wine has a little more lasting power...meaning you can open a bottle, recork it, drink more later...whereas beer is an immediate thing. must be consumed all at once.

what i have more of an issue with is the overpricing of your everyday kinda beers. i hear about the price of three floyds beers all the time...i realize they use a lot of hops, but there is no reason a bottle of dreadnaught should retail for the same price as an lost abbey angels share, cuvee de tomme or any of the russian river barrel aged beers

 
Cletus
beers 6351 º places 233 º 18:35 Sat 10/27/2007

Originally posted by Mike4686
now i don’t know much about anything but i think if a brewery makes a limited release beer and it all sells out rather quickly then they should just make more of it asap. its going to sell, they’re going to make money, why not just make it?


The problem with that is some of these take a very long time to reach maturation and time is money. A lot of thse really limited releases are beers the brewer does not make very much on. Sometimes, they even take a loss.

 
Immy
beers 1958 º places 110 º 18:37 Sat 10/27/2007

To be honest, I have always been shocked that so many great beers are so cheap.

 
JK
beers 7117 º places 441 º 18:55 Sat 10/27/2007

I had no idea a corked 750 raised the price of beer so much. Brewers should stop using them and do the Jolly Pumpkin style 750 with a cap.

 
ryan
beers 3185 º places 13 º 18:59 Sat 10/27/2007

Originally posted by JK
I had no idea a corked 750 raised the price of beer so much. Brewers should stop using them and do the Jolly Pumpkin style 750 with a cap.


Unfortunately, the brown 750s that JP uses are no longer available.

 
xmarcnolanx
beers 945 º places 2 º 21:36 Sat 10/27/2007

I told Tomme at the GABF that I would pay 80 to 100 for a bottle of cable car... He didn’t seem like that was a big deal. I still would...