Friday, January 9, 2009

Weyerbacher Keeps Beer Prices Constant for 2009

While this is better than prices going up, shouldn't they be coming down? Almost everything else is coming down in price--have you gone shopping lately? I see no reason why raw material prices for brewers should be any different and I expect that commodity costs for brewers are less now, too. For example, the cost of natural gas for boil energy, malt, hops, etc.

With jobs being lost and belts tightening everywhere, at some point any person reaches a limit as to what they can afford to pay and eventually good beer will be purchased less and the demand for good beer will drop. If that happens, the only way for the brewer to stay in business is pass on his cost-savings, or live off his past profits until he goes out of business or demand picks up.

I'm not picking on Weyerbacher, any and all beer prices should be coming down. And I'm not going to say I feel I'm being gouged. I feel lucky to still have a job and at the same time be able to enjoy great beer. And I'm not one to be happy when anyone, individual or small business, gets hurt by the economy.

Brewers are special people--artists really, not normal industrial manufacturers. The world would be far less elysian if we didn't have them. And their artistry, embodied in their beers, like all art, is expensive. Breweries and the brewers who operate them may in fact be cultural institutions reflecting the hope, achievement, and history of the local people, and worth preserving. Ok. Maybe not directly, but facilitators of the cultural institution we call the tavern.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. What do you think?


John P. said...

Is price the only measure of quality? If they lower their prices to a level comparable to say,.. budweiser/coors/miller/etc,... they'll survive. That said, I don't blame them one bit for charging what people have been more than happy to pay.

Some of these guys are in a high price marketing gimmick corner. It costs a lot therefore it must be good. I can honestly say I've paid way too much for some beers out there and felt ripped for what I got. They'll die. While others, I was happy to pay whatever they charged.

tazio said...

It depends on how you define quality. I define it as what I want. When I get what I want, then that's quality.

Basically, I know how expensive it is to buy ingredients to make good homebrew and I haven't found a way to make it cheaply yet--~$35.00 a case for my Christmas.

I think there is some economy of scale for craft-brewers--ie they can make the same quality of beer as I do but a bit cheaper due to buying in bulk, but still. I think you do get what you pay for.

If the craft-brewers had to price their beer cheaper and deliver the same beer with the same levels of alcohol, hoppiness, etc. they probably would not be able to do it.

Coors, Miller, Bud, are cheap to make: low alcohol (not as much malt), not hoppy (one variety, maybe, and a small amount), adjunct grains like rice and corn used (less malt), etc. The craft-brewers could not make a great beer and price it at the Bud level and survive. At least I don't think so. I'm not even counting the economy of scale that those macro-beers have over craft-brewers either.

The beer you overpaid for may be just not to your taste--someone else might find it to their liking and worth the price.