Saturday, 14 April 2012

How much is too much?


     I have seen quite a lot of coverage on beer blogs about the cost of stuff. Beer stuff, obviously. Boak and Bailey posted about it, and judging by the venue and product choices of many bloggers it seems theres more blog folks that will pay whatever is asked than there is who'll question or decline.

Personally am not keen on paying over the odds, and I suppose our old friend expectation comes into that. Also, having worked in the off trade (albeit before HSBD) I do have some understanding of costs, and often consider that what I'm being asked to pay is unreasonable.

Recently I have been to many establishments that have made me think about the point at which something is just too expensive, and how much people would be willing to pay and why. Here are a few examples :

A low gravity 500ml bottle in a shop, costing £4.00. (Its very rare, in that its possibly the only time the brewery have ever done a 500ml bottle, or sold them outside of their pub estate.)

A pint of aged beer in a pub retailing at £9.00 a pint. (The beer was aged for quite some time and was potentially only available on draught at a small number of venues. Its just as expensive in a bottle.)

A 500ml bottle of beer from a local brewery selling in a bar for about £6.00. (The bottles are hard to come by I understand.)

A pint of lower gravity beer (about 3.5%) sold in a pub as a guest for the same price as a 5.0% beer. (Its unusual to see the beer in the area.)

The first three examples are specific, the last one is more a general annoyance that you get in pubs.

Please note, there is no evidence that the above retailers aren't selling this stock. So why are people willing to pay so much for it? I have tried to suggest the reason I think the retailer is charging the stated price, because I'm interested to know what factors might make someone part with their cash for something that is more expensive either than you'd expect, or that you would consider acceptable.

If I'm buying beer, here are a few considerations that I may undertake :

Is it being sold at the going rate.
If its not, does it seem like there might be reasons why not.
Is it something I've always wanted to try, and if so does that justify buying it if the first two criteria aren't met
Will I get chance to buy it again
Is it limited edition (most likely with bottled conditioned ales, and Christ, that's a whole other can of worms)
If it meets none of the above criteria, but I am convinced it will be nice, shall I treat myself.*

Do you have similar considerations? For instance, is the rarity or otherwise unattainability of a product reason to pay more than you would normally? Or indeed, is cost an issue for you at all when buying something as relatively cheap as beer?

Wee Beefy

*I am not holding up the queue at the bar having this internal dialogue. Having a good idea of price and which beers I have tried/breweries I like means that probably only one or two of these considerations apply at any one time. These are a broad representation of what I might consider when buying ale. Which is perhaps for the best. 

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