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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Have a look

Most of you will miss this, so I'll briefly bring it to your attention. I posted a comment about beer pricing by Chris from Belmont Station a couple weeks ago, and one of the main subplots involved Rogue. Today Brett Joyce replied to the comment. You can read it here. It's an interesting debate and I take no sides. I'm just an ignorant blogger.


  1. I appreciate that Mr. Joyce chooses to respond to these posts, I think it says a lot about his passion and commitment to his company. We should all be so lucky to work for someone like him. His response still leaves a few questions for me:

    "-we do not price our beer to "project an image of high quality, expensive beer", we price our beer based on tne ingredient costs and so that we can remain a viable business"

    My brother attended a brewers dinner several years back hosted by Rogue in Klamath Falls. He asked specifically why Dead Guy was so much more expensive at the store than everything else and was told that Rogue wanted to be viewed as a premium brand, thus the premium price. Was this just an ill informed employee? Was this policy at one point?

    I also understand that they do choose to using premium packaging on their XS and 22oz products, which would raise costs. That still doesn't explain why sixers of Dead Guy, St. Rogue Red, etc. are priced higher than other beers. They are regular 12oz bottles with paper labels. Why the higher price then? I don't believe that their ingredients are better or cost more than other Oregon brewers.

    Dead Guy was one of my first loves when it comes to craft beer. I rarely have it now because of the pricing. Same goes for St. Rogue Red.

  2. Whoops, I see by pointing readers to that post we now have too comment threads going on. To save people the trouble of clicking there an back, here's Brett's comment, reproduced in full:


    Dear Chris from Belmont Station-

    The majority of these comments regarding Rogue are ridiculous and misinformed.

    At Rogue, we have never used pricing as a marketing or branding strategy.

    Our 21 year mission has been to provide World Class Products, put them in World Class Packages, market our products uniquely, and be active and generous members of the communities where we have breweries, distilleries, farms, and pubs. In order to do these four things, we must remain in business. To remain in business, we must have profit. To have profit, we must have margin. To have margin, we must price our products based on both the cost of goods and the costs of operating a small business.

    John Maier, our brewmaster of 21 years, decides which ingredients and (more importantly) the quantities of ingredients that go into our Ales, Porters, Stouts, and Lagers. John likes to use a lot of hops and a lot of barley. We do not apologize for using large quantities of ingredients. We do not apologize for allowing John to practice his craft without interference from the bean counters.

    Our packaging is expensive. We serigraph all of our 22oz bottles, which costs significantly more than using paper lables. Our XS Ales are sold in ceramic bottles imported from Europe. We sell Double Dead Guy Ale in 750ml bottles that are imported from Italy, glazed in Canada, shipped to the U.S., serigraphed in Tualatin, and finally shipped to Newport for filling. We do not view our products as commodities and therefore enjoy placing our products into packages that tell stories, provide information, are great gifts, and can be enjoyed and shared with friends. This is clearly not the strategy for every brewery, just the one that we have used for 21 years.

    There are several comments that were made which are cleary inacccurate and require accuracy:

    -we do not price our beer to "project an image of high quality, expensive beer", we price our beer based on tne ingredient costs and so that we can remain a viable business
    -we have never done any market research, so we're not sure what the socioeconomists say (we’re not even sure what a “socioeconomist” is)
    -we never set out to be a national brand, we began distributing Rogue outside of Oregon 15 years ago because retailers from across the country came to Newport, liked our beer, and want to sell it in their home markets.
    -it was suggested Rogue is corporate. Nothing could be further from the truth, we have no offices, employees create their own job titles, we have no HR department, don't tuck our shirts in, and all employees wear aloha shirts on Tuesdays
    -it was suggested we are working towards a buyout. Again wrong. We are privately held by a group of long time Oregonians and will sell Rogue only when we are forced to hire a human resources manager.
    -it was suggested that Rogue believes that the consumer is gullible. Again, not true. We believe that the consumer wants quality, creativity, and variety and we strive to provide this. It is true that offering 35 different flavors is economically inefficient, but Rogue Nation consumers have made it clear that they both enjoy and demand variety.

    Rogue is a Revolution. We have always said that Rogue is not for everyone and everyone is not for Rogue- we accept this as fact and welcome fellow revolutionaries to join our cause.

    The Truth Will Set You Free.

    Brett Joyce
    Rogue Ales

  3. Ingredient costs?

    What a crock of shit! It costs them the same as any other brewery of their size and their charging prices higher than a small brew pub which may not be able to even buy ingredients at the same volume or price. This is a bunch of crap!

    Wow! This is corporate and PR BS to the highest level.

    Here's some more gems...

    "serigraph" bottle printing cost more. Yes, it probably does. So, why not slap a paper label on and save the consumer some cash or is it more important for Rogue to stand out and look pretty?? PR!

    "we never set out to be a national brand." But, you are. BS PR!

    In regard to ingredients and brewing practice (AGAIN) ..."allowing John to practice his craft without interference from the bean counters."

    John's a very nice guy and would never make negative comment toward his bread and butter or craft, but I personally have asked him about dealing with Rogue's Bean Counters. Lets' say his answer was guarded. He's a smart guy.

    The ingredient cost thing just doesn't hold water. Being on the coast is no excuse either! There are plenty of breweries on the Pacific coast that have their ingredients trucked in and they're beer is not as expensive as Rogues in the bottle or on tap.

    "retailers from across the country came to Newport".....

    Because they're so wonderful and make better beer than other breweries in the country?? Yea, right! Maybe it's all that big PR advertising that brought them to Newport or an invitational junket of free beer and a trip to Oregon???

    Please! This is insulting everybodies intelligence!

    "Rogue is a Revolution." Yes! A business revolution of advertising, Big PR, a phony "For the People" tag line and high prices to fill those deep pockets.

    Why not change the CORPORATE TAg line to, "WE are Rogue... Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!"

  4. you make a product, you choose a markup, people buy it or they don't. if they do, you keep that margin; if they don't, you cut margin to try and gain volume.

    this is not a commodity -- the brewery owner, who's got his/her ass on the line, decides what a sustainable markup is to make the business profitable and sustainable. the customer tells the brewery owner, with money, whether that strategy is going to work.

    if you think Rogue is overpriced, then so be it. there are apparently a plot of people who disagree with you.

  5. Dear Mr. Joyce,
    In your post you state, “We sell Double Dead Guy Ale in 750ml bottles that are imported from Italy, glazed in Canada, shipped to the U.S., serigraphed in Tualatin, and finally shipped to Newport for filling.” My God, what is the carbon footprint on that operation? Stop it. You are killing the earth!

    Also, “don't tuck our shirts in, and all employees wear aloha shirts on Tuesdays.” What the hell do aloha shirts have to do with anything. Asinine.

    There are much better choices on the west coast then Rogue. It is just that simple.

  6. I wonder who Anon works for??


    Boot licking can be such an ugly job.... :-O

    Yes... We all know it's about supply and demand... and all that other business stuff. So, I guess if people DON'T want to meet the demand for over priced beer, that's OK. Maybe, the brewery will even lower it's price to maintain marketability if no one wants to pay the exorbitant price?

    Obviously, being marketable and keeping the cash rolling in high on the agenda.

    I haven't read Rogue's Revolution Statement lately, is that on there? "We must be marketable to maintain our margins and sell at whatever price those consumer fools will pay."

    Nice "For the People" concept!!

  7. I better watch out, I might get one of those (non)-corporate type Lawyers from Rogue sending me a nasty email! ;-}

    Come on! How frickin paranoid about your "IMAGE" can you be to have your CORPORATE Lawyer send an email to a lowly Blogger???

    Watch out they be tapping your phone line next!! :-O

  8. It is interesting how strong people feel about Rogue. We take our beer seriously!

  9. Wow, I appear to have struck a nerve. Just to clarify things for Mr. Joyce and anyone else who's still following along, I only referenced Rogue in one paragraph of my previous comment:

    "Some breweries (like Rogue) are quite proud of their beer, and regardless of whether or not Dead Guy cost significantly more than Inversion they want to project an image high quality, expensive beer, so they price it higher."

    Nowhere in my post did I imply that they set out to be a national brand, that they are "Corporate", that they are working towards a buyout or that they think consumers are gullible, so most of his anger towards me is undeserved.

    You'll also notice that I didn't say anything bad about the beer, which I won't do because it's great beer. I could complain about the packaging (especially the ceramics) that keeps me from buying the beer more frequently, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the beer itself. I always enjoy drinking the XS brews when I find them on tap, but I simply can't justify spending an extra $4-5/bottle over a comparable beer just to have a nifty ceramic bottle to recycle when I finished.

    Rogue makes great beer, but to say that you didn't set out to be "project an image of high quality, expensive beer" when you've just finished stating that your packaging is more expensive than everyone else's is sort of duplicitous. Why would you go to the trouble of presenting all of your products in "more expensive" packaging if you weren't concerned with projecting an image of "being more expensive?"

    Lastly, I should point out that all opinions expressed by me on this blog are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Belmont Station, it's owners, partners, or anyone else involved in the business.



    PS: If you'd care to learn more about the study of socioeconomics I'd highly recommend checking out the wikipedia entry:

  10. My comments came from Mr joyce's comments. You're in the clear Chris.... ;-}

    Wait! Who are those men knocking at my door!!

    Please don't get me started on the Ceramic bottles... :-O

  11. yeah and Rogue doesnt repackage their beer either!

  12. Even more fuel for the fire! Thanks Samurai! ;-}

    Nothing says "we're in it for the money" more than public diseption and repackaging to sell that, "hard to move" products...!!

    Watch that margin!! Fill those pockets!

    Sounds like an evil empire!

    **Anybody been to Green Dragon lately?? I hear they're putting out a beer, it's called "Knights of Royal Screw Job!" Basically, it's repackaged Rogue Amber.. Shhh! Don't tell anyone, and maybe they won't notice.... BTW, it's $5.75 a pint!! ;-}