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The price is right…maybe?

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Two weeks ago I had that once-in-a-while drinking experience, when a beer completely kicks you in the face with awesomeness. I mean, just really stuns your brain with lofty intentions and masterful execution. It was Mikkeller 19 and I wasted no time posting this photo to Instagram with a caption that read something like “OMG guyz, this beer rulz.” You have to forgive my unbridled enthusiasm: The beer was the grand climax to a string of single-hopped beers (19 of them) and it featured all 19 hops. In one bottle. I was ecstatic with the myriad hop flavors—as were most who commented on the photo—but quite a few people brought up the price.

One user wrote: “Really good, but I wouldn’t call it a must-try at the prices it’s being sold at…”

Another seconded: “And as already stated, the prices are inflated anywhere that stocks it.”

A bit of the ol’ Googling suggests a 12-ounce is typically sold between six and seven bucks (though I’m sure some shops jacked the price up higher). By comparison, I bought a bottle of Firestone Walker Wookey Jack on Sunday for $7.99—it was a bomber (and a delicious rye-spiked Back IPA). I can’t recall the price I paid for 19 when I bought it in England, but I’d surely do it again. And again.

With that in mind, what selling points convince you to shell out a few extra bucks for a beer? Are you a sucker for the extremely limited? Will you buy anything that’s aged in Stranahan’s Whiskey barrels? Maybe your budgeting goes out the window when a new saison hits the shelves?

Put aside your anger for price inflation and let’s delve into your personal temptations.

Me? I’ll buy any IPA that’s wood-aged, any unusually spiced saison and pretty much any wild ale. Prices be damned.

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Author
Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.

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13 Comments

  • Tristan says:

    > With that in mind, what selling points convince you to
    > shell out a few extra bucks for a beer?”

    Honestly, none. I’m a grad student living within my means, which means that I go to bars at happy hour, and at the store I buy what’s on sale.

    There are some great breweries – like Mikkeler, Dogfish Head and The Bruery – that I’ve just had to give up on due to their pricing strategies. Whenever I hear any news about them, I think, “Oh look, another great beer that I’ll never get to try.”

  • Andy says:

    No matter the format, I will always translate the costs back to what it would costs for a six pack. If the number makes my head spin, i put it down and walk away

  • Evan says:

    Whenever I see a high priced beer I want to try I think to myself, “Well, at least I’m not a wine fanatic”, and then whip out the wallet.

  • April says:

    Honestly I will pay up to about $14 (including tax) for a large format bottle (no worse than wine). I think it is absolutely crazy for a working person, middle class to spend $30-$50 on one bottle of beer or six-pack. However, the special occasion $20 large format bottle is acceptable.

  • Christian says:

    As a wine, spirit, and (of course) beer enthusiast, I think an enthusiast on a budget has to have the fundamental mentality that tasting and trying new products is the fun of the hobbie/interest. However, I don’t know many people who look at Mikkeler, Three Heads (New York), or a Samuel Smith as a session style brewery, even though the mind be willing to indulge.

    For the specialty brews, I for one (without ample financial means), have no problem budgeting out some funds to occasionally try a beer I am unfamiliar with and keep rocking solid beers with slightly lower alcohol, hop and malt content for a day/night of drinking. My go-tos are often Sierra Nevada, a medely of upstate New York/regional beers and hope to add an amazing find I tried at the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston, Throwback Brewery from New Hampshire.

  • Phineas says:

    If its a beer that can handle some time to plan/wait for something special, price isn’t a big deal (to an extent.) Otherwise I try to split costs as much as possible.

  • Mike says:

    If its something new and unique (19 hops, barrel-aged, unique ingredients, ect) I don’t mind $6-10 for the experience. If I like it, rather than going to the bar the next weekend, I’ll stock up. The dollar amount stays the same, just changes hands

  • Dave says:

    My normal 6 pack cost is usually around the $10 to 15 dollar range with the high end being for Fraoch Heather Ale. Outside of that I have few exceptions, but the most recent would be Roth Breweries Foe Hammer which is just a really good barley-wine perfect for the fall and winter months. But even then I had trouble not putting that money towards a good bottle of scotch.

  • Mike says:

    I look at it this way – if you attend sporting or music events you are knocking down $7-10 LITE Beers; beers that otherwise would cost you about $1-2 a bottle if bought by the case. I have a 6 and 4 year old at home so I do not make it out to the bars much and doing a 365 Beer Challenge this year – I would rather pay that $7-12 for a bottle of something “special” be it an IPA, Barleywine, Imperial blah blah blah, then a $8 dollar Coors light at any major sporting or music event. And heck even those beers end up being $4-6 dollars a pop when out at some local bars any way. I know I know, you are paying for the service of the bartender/ect – but I just see cost and beer unless the bar tender is extraordinary in some fashion or another. Anyway, that is my take on cost.

  • Jayel says:

    Coffee stout or burbon barrel or both.

  • Cliff says:

    My usual cut off for a non special occasion beer is around 7-8$ per bomber. (USD). At that rate you can get things of truly excellent quality.

    I would go higher for something exciting from a brewer I know, enjoy and most importantly trust. I don’t want to spend over 10 bucks on something from a brewery I am rarely crazy about or that seems gimmicky. (In both case, yes I am looking at you Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale. 15 bucks at my local shops? I’d have to be high… very high…).

    Would I spend 15 on Stone’s 10th Aniv. Ruination Ruination? Yes, in a heart beat, fortunately I can probably get 2 for that. I’d pay god knows what for more of the 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, as it was a one shot sadly gone (My favorite beer of all time, so definitely worth it.)

    I can’t get some pricing scales, as Pretty much everything from Stone will be under $10 a bomber, and Lagunitas makes their insane Cappuccino stout for just under $5.

    When I see the $15 bombers, I usually check out, as I have been disappointed in damn near all of them.

    Wou

  • Steve says:

    When I see a high priced beer I am generally swayed by the description on the bottle. If I find the description interesting enough I will usually give it a try, on the other? hand, if a beer has a high price and little description it will come down to the price at the store vs the price at a bar. Bar prices are generally 6 dollars a pint for micros so I will spend that much to try a beer with poor descriptions if I am in the mood for something new. However, if oskar blues is on the label i will always buy it period.

  • stephen says:

    Once a bomber or 750 gets over $10, I start to be very careful and rely strongly on freinds reccomendations. And the further it gets from $10 the guiltier I feel paying so much. But I also have a weekness for belgian Quads… The last 3 “pricey” bottles I purchased without having tried first were a 750 Gulden Drak 9000 ($14), a 750 Dogfish Head Black and Blue ($16) and a 12oz Brewdog Tokyo ($14)

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