bottled beer opinion

What Would We Pay?

The above is not an easy question to answer in 140 characters, so we thought we’d think aloud in a blog post.

If it’s in a fairly commonly available style (double IPA, imperial stout, barley wine) and therefore has plenty of competition, we might pay about £4 (drink at home) for the pleasure of ‘ticking’, and just in case it happens to be the Promised Beer.

Thereafter, unless it was better than BrewDog Hardcore IPA (£2.85), Brooklyn Chocolate Stout (£3.82) or Adnams Tally Ho (£1.83) we probably wouldn’t be in a hurry to buy it again at that price.

If it was in a rare example of a particular style, had a cult reputation, or was an attempt to recreate an historic beer, we could be talked up to £5. (We paid £9.73 for a 660ml bottle of an 8.3% clone of Ballantine IPA c.1932 yesterday, so about £4.86 per 330ml.)

There are lots of factors which influence our assessment of value, (July 2012) and the judgement is always made in the moment, but the most important factor is probably this: what else we could get for the same money?

11 replies on “What Would We Pay?”

Thanks for this. It’s a very difficult question to answer, and a difficult one to ask.

It’s been discussed lots of times before about different margins and discounts that larger brewers (BrewDog, Brooklyn, Adnams, etc) get on their ingredients, and I don’t begrudge them that.
But it’s hard for me starting out a small brewery to know how to price my beers. The problem is, I don’t work on fixed margins, jacking it up if it’s cheap. When costing up the beers, I’ve been finding that I want to work backwards. I think how much I’d be happy to pay for it in a bar or shop, and then work back from there through the margins that they have to charge to get a price that I could sell it to them at, so that they could sell it to customers at a price I’d be happy as a customer to pay.

Generally this doesn’t leave a lot of room for profit, but it leaves enough, and I know that my beers are more likely to be bought at a comparable price to others on the market, and hopefully considered good value.

With this beer in particular, I did struggle a bit finding other beers of this strength (Hardcore IPA 8% , Tally Ho 7.2%, Brooklyn 10%) and given the price difference between the Tally Ho and others below the 7.5% high duty beer rate, it does seem that it’s discouraging breweries from producing the stronger beers.

I’m not quite sure why I decided to make a beer this strong and get knocked by the higher duty rate, a rookie error I’d guess. But at least with the answers on Twitter, and the explanation here, I know I should be able to sell it and not lose out.

And, FWIW, we tend not to be especially sensitive to ABV figures once it’s 7% and up — they’re all just ‘strong’. (We might, I suppose, think of 12% and up as a separate category of ‘super strong’.)

That’s very interesting actually.

The higher rate of beer duty kicks in at 7.5%, so anything between 7% and 7.5% would get considered along with 7.% up to 12%, but pay a lot less duty.

Shop price? Maybe £2.50 for something domestic, £3.50 for an exotic import. As a rare treat.

Not to depress you, but have you clocked Tesco Finest American Double IPA (made by Brewdog) yet? 9.2%, £1.99 for 330ml.

There’s no way I’d be able to compete with supermarket prices. For a start the brewery’s only 45l at a push. So if I want to get any sleep and not worry too much, I’m just ignoring the supermarkets.

Only 135 bottles then? Assuming your beer is a reasonable quality*, then that says to me “numbered limited edition” ; take what you had decided was a fair price and add £2 a bottle.

*that is, you could potentially get away with doing this more than once.

(Any cynicism that may be hinted at above is not directed to you: I thinking wanting to set a price for your beer that is fair all round is laudable.)

If I am interested in a beer I’ll pay pretty much anything up to a tenner, sometimes more if I am feeling naughty. Of course, that would have to be something very exciting. For a small brewer that I didn’t know, I’d be willing to pay a fiver for something that looks like it’d be worth a go.

Yesterday over in NY state I refused a 750 ml of Allagash Curieux at $19.99 mainly based on what their beers cost just a few years ago. Manufactured supplemental inflation is traceable. I laughed at a $15.00 single can of Heady Topper. Sucker juice. I did buy a 7.99 large bottle of the Ballentine recreation and 9.99 for a Stone “Drink Before 12-26-14” just to see. Other than those, good value six packs. There are too many good beers now at a good price to get caught up in hype price nonsense.

Instant reaction: I would have real trouble going over £4. At all.

If I saw such a beer at £4.50 or £5, I might think “fair play to him, it’s obviously expensive stuff”; I might even think vaguely “if only…”*; but I wouldn’t buy it. Just wouldn’t.

Unless it was imported and a known quantity – and even then going over £5 would make it a very difficult sell.

*Vaguely because spending £4.50 on one bottle isn’t going to break the bank. I think the semi-conscious train of thought here is “I couldn’t afford to pay that much for every bottle I buy”.

9.9 % I’m guessing double ipa with pretty extreme levels of hops. Shop I’m thinking certain brewers could get 4.50 out of me (magic rock) to take a gamble on a total new name let’s say 3.50 . Though I know my local shop is pricing at higher end of normal – knock 50p off that online. Bar prices again with likes of stone, ska. ,magic rock I might go to 8 quid on a good day a local unknown needs be under a fiver. Problem is im prob in minority, It was only a year or 3 back I had landlord apologising for selling a 10 beer at 2 quid a half.. Folks used to supermarkets and ‘spoons will turn funny colour around 3 quid a bottle

Thanks for your thoughts everyone!

It seems in general that if it’s a brewer you know to produce good beer, then you’re willing to pay a bit more because you know it’s likely to be worth it.
If it’s a small local brewery, you’re willing to pay a little more, I’m guessing because you’re wanting to support the local independents.
But, if it’s a total unknown from further afield, then it needs to be a good price to make you take the risk.

I can associate with all that thinking, I reckon I’m the same.

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