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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Premium Craft?

In the midst of this relaxing and ruminative week, I am spending most of my time away from the computer and internet.  Of all the weeks of the year, this one offers the most opportunity for corporeal human contact and I'm taking advantage.  For you digital types, here's the post of the week: Pete Dunlop on the increasing stratification of the craft beer segment:
There's nothing new about stratification in the beer industry. It dates as least as far back as the 1950s, when heavy advertising split macro brews into premium and popularly-priced brands....

Not that long ago, you could walk into your favorite bottleshop and be pressed to find more than a few $10 bottles of beer. Try that today. You'll have no trouble finding bottles priced at $10 or more. In fact, you'll find plenty of $20 bottles, largely unheard of a few years ago. This reality is supported by Brewers Association numbers, which show that craft beer dollar growth exceeded volume growth by 2 percent in 2011 and 2012. Any bets on 2013?
Also, for those of you looking for that corporeal contact, I highly recommend Roscoe's 7th Anniversary Summit, beginning at 2pm tomorrow.  Lots of special beers plus that lovely laid-back Montavilla vibe.  8105 SE Stark, Portland.


  1. An interesting echo of a hearty debate on my blog in 2007 where great resistance was displayed to the concept of pushing back on price - to the point of debating the merits of being a well informed beer buyer.

  2. Well, I'll try to make it over to Roscoe's for a quick one or two tomorrow. There won't be an gentrification there, right? Just kidding. Thanks for the mention. Too bad there's no web traffic.

  3. This is a strange time for the beer industry. For the past two decades, the industry has advanced in a reasonably predictable manner, backed by a clear narrative.

  4. I don't like the stratification one bit! Even the common man should have no trouble being a beer snob (financially) -- this is not the case for wine.

  5. I'm torn on this matter. Certainly, I'd RATHER pay $5 for an excellent bottle of beer than $20. And as a consumer, I definitely have that choice. No shortage of great beers for $5 per 650 ml. At the same time, I enjoy experiencing a brewmaster's high achievements, his or her grand cru as it were. And when said beer contains more expensive ingredients, takes longer to age (at the brewery in tanks or barrels thereby not being turned over to get more beer out/cash in), and requires dexterity and/or the perspicacity to hold off or rack, then the brewing company should be able to charge more and if I want to enjoy the end product I need to be willing to pay more.

    There was a brewing company, a gypsy brewer, down in San Francisco's South Bay that produced a line of beers that retailed for $40-45. It was on shelves for quite a while, yet I didn't know of a single beer fan who'd tried it. They were successfully, although cynically, marketing it to "wine people." Emphasis mine. Finally, a beer person got a hold of a bottle on close out and poured it for a group and we all agreed it was downright disgusting. A Brett bomb with zero finesse. Not work a five-spot.

    My point? Caveat emptor. But Ale Apothecary, and barrel-aged Firestone, and things like that, are worth every penny. And for in between, there's GoodLife Mountain Rescue at $3.99/bomber.