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Which FiftyFifty Eclipse?

Discussion in 'US - Pacific' started by Thickfreakness, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. just this year.

    i tried some eclipses in late 2010 and found them pretty bad. i attacked their quality, but i didn't say they were overpriced for a barrel-aged beer. $25 or so is in line for most -bal aged stouts.

    incidentally, the brewer jumped on my ass for saying the bottles were bad (they had strong elements of ash and char). after reading reviews and other threads, i got clued in to bottle variation and presented my findings. he flipped his shit. he was especially livid after i called him out for hyping pvw eclipse's value in someone else's trade thread. not that that's relevant here, i just find it funny.

    two-ish years later, the price is $8 higher per bottle, and it has surpassed the price of the underlying whiskeys. now, as you stated, i actually am attacking the price. btw, north coast is cheaper per oz ($23/16.9 = $1.36) than eclipse ($33 / 22 = $1.50).

    i also tried a few of the 2011 bottles after people told me they were better. they were, but i had two bottles of the elijah craig 20 (white wax) and they tasted different. so clearly their problem isn't under control. and to raise prices yet again despite not dialing that in is just ridiculous. so if anyone is contending that i haven't at least tried a few eclipses before making my criticisms - i have. and yes, i'm vocal, and i'm an asshole, but i'm quite willing to reverse my position if new evidence comes to light. so far, none has.

    north coast's pricing is definitely off for some areas of the country where the bottles linger. the stores i frequent run out of bottles in 6 months or so, which i think is good pricing. but i've been to several stores with 2011 and 2012 eclipses side by side, which i think is an issue. if you can buy a vertical off the shelves, it's probably overpriced.

    and again, let me reiterate that there have been multiple threads on eclipse bottle variation (in past years) and prices (several just this year), which are important: it's not like i'm the only guy saying these things.

    i think eclipse would be ok as a $12 beer. abyss should be $18 and parabola should be $25.

    interesting info, thanks for the link. i wonder if this will become a more widespread thing.
  2. Doubtful if those bottles sell by January 2014.

    FiftyFifty already sold out its futures (quickly), and sold the rest to distributors (quickly). Whether they sell out in the next 11 months will determine if a price reduction could occur in the future. If a merchant can't move that product, then they won't order more next year. If the product moves, they'll probably order more.
  3. Sebowski

    Sebowski Savant (270) California Jan 11, 2010

    Good point nothing you posted is relevant here. In a thread asking which one of this year's is best.

    Love how you take the highest markup you've seen on the most expensive variation and state it as the universal price for a bottle of Eclipse. If you didn't do that your per ounce math wouldn't work out in your favor. I love every Eclipse I've had. I would never pay $33 for one though. That is just over my price range for it. I will keep buying them on preorder for much less than that.

    Your in SD, right? Several stores with 2011 Eclipse? Name them or GTFO. Meanwhile I still see the BA Old Stocks around.
  4. i don't know if it's the highest markup or which variant. i just wrote the price i saw at clem's. are they $25 msrp this year?

    then why are you arguing with me? that's the same thing i'm saying. :confused: and it's a legitimate answer to the op: "none of them, because their prices are all like the rent."
  5. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (470) California Dec 11, 2010

    Clem's had some a couple months ago. There are at least three stores up here in the Bay Area that still have 2011 bottles. And most stores around here don't really differentiate between price - they're all $30ish. All of the ones listed in the OP are the same price around here.

    And this may be my personal preference, but the OP was pretty damn boring - threads where people are asked about their favorite anything are pretty fucking mundane. Nobody gives a shit about anyone else's opinion and everyone wants to share theirs. At least now the conversation has become interesting. We've touched upon economics, bourbon, barrels, and tits. What's not to like?
  6. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    I don't believe so. I think the cheapest I've seen is $26 or $28, I think the latter. At that price I'd only buy varieties I already know I like. The $20-24 through futures is much more reasonable.
    Depends on whose tits we're talking about.
  7. I think its more about your degree of cognitive dissonance/cherry picking the most extreme stats at one end of the spectrum and then using them to analyze and compare things under the rubric that it is factually representative of the whole Eclipse line. That's the argument, or at least the aspect of your thought provoking commentary that I have 'beef' (intellectually) with.

    $33 was the highest Eclipse (EC20) price. You're using that number as a comparison point to talk $/oz with North Coast Old Raspy, much less with a discussion about BA beer being more than its spirit counterpart. Reality, they're probably almost identical $/oz, but IMHO, worlds apart in terms of quality.

    Reality is, EC20 Eclipse was ~$10 more per bottle than any other Eclipse, and EC20 the bourbon retails for $160 here. That's about 1/5th of the price of the bourbon, not "approaching" or even surpassing such a psychological barrier.
  8. uh... no. my first post in this thread was comparing the price of the whiskey to the price of the eclipse. at clem's, i definitely saw elijah craig 12 (purple), old fitzgerald (blue), rittenhouse rye (green), bernheim wheat (beige or tan?), evan williams (black), mellow corn (yellow). the range was $33 to $35. that is more than, and in some cases double, the whiskeys they came from ($20, $15, $18, $26, $10, $12 respectively). do you contest this point?

    the ba old rasputin thing was a red herring brought up by sebowski, not me. to respond, i quoted the price i paid for ba old rasputin xiv (have not bought xv yet) versus the lowest price i saw for eclipse. if my numbers are way off, then the comparison shifts in favor of eclipse. the reason this point was brought up is because you can quibble about the details (which variant of eclipse vs which store and which markup) and derail the discussion from my original point.

    i had no idea there was an elijah craig 20 eclipse this year. it wasn't at clem's, or maybe i missed it. but yes, i will happily use that example to counterbalance the other 6 variants that support my point. now who's picking extremes? :rolleyes:
    BdubleEdubleRUN likes this.
  9. Sebowski

    Sebowski Savant (270) California Jan 11, 2010

    I'd heard Clems was overpriced. Never been in there. Thanks for the reminder not to bother. You can get Eclipse at my local spot for $26-$30. I still skipped buying them because I already preordered my fill.

    Anywho, I'm out on this. Just chimed in to point out something I thought was pretty funny. Didn't mean to get caught up (you're good at that, Lev). Carry on.
  10. Never been to, nor heard of Clems until this thread, so I can't really contest whatever it is they're charging.

    I don't really get the purpose of comparising whiskey to barrel aged beer from said whiskey barrel though? It leaves out more important things in terms of cost of production: Real Estate (might be a difference in real estate price between Lake Tahoe/rural Kentucky?), taxation scheme (CA might cost a little more ya think?) etc. . . I think those have a lot more to do with why FiftyFifty's prices being higher than average. Plus, they charge almost $7 a pint for "normal" beers, so when you think about it, their prices are commensurate across the board.

    Just because a whiskey isn't top shelf doesn't mean that Totality aged in it is shit too. There's been a lot of "can't be worth the price because that whiskey sucks" thoughts aired out here. I disagree.
  11. I checked out Clem's on a warm day this past fall, and I was far more concerned with the upper 80 degree temperatures in the store than their prices.
  12. what's difficult about it? it's clear that many posters here enjoy bourbon and beer. i find myself comparing the two on a value basis, and i'm sure others do as well. beer often wins out, but not when it costs more than the whiskey.

    on a broader level, i'm wondering if (assuming this sort of thing becomes more commonplace) it will eventually accelerate the craft beer shakeout so many people on this site (and in the industry) seem to predict. the craft spirits segment is growing rapidly. some of the sales are being cannibalized from beer - this article discusses the trend for beer as a whole, though i don't think it is correct to say that craft beer is being cannibalized.

    that being said, when you see other posters besides me make that mental comparison at similar price points, you are witnessing an anecdotal example of a conversion. we are all discerning drinkers and we are all in this for flavor, but not all of us are tethered to a specific style (beer, wine, etc.). so if conversion happens broadly enough, you'll get a pullback in the craft beer industry (at least in the boutique brewery segment). i'm curious to see if we are witnessing the beginning of this.

    that's fair. i have, after all, said in the past (and in this thread) that barrel pedigree can be irrelevant when you consider all the variables that go into it. but i do find it funny that people who go apeshit for a beer "because it's aged in pappy!" don't have the same disdain "because it's aged in rebel yell!" why pretend to show an appreciation for quality if you are that indiscriminate?
    BdubleEdubleRUN, jtmartino and vurt like this.
  13. You've got to admit, these threads always make for a good read. :)
    Levitation and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  14. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    No, it was brewery-only. I think they couldn't get many barrels. Sadly, I think it was the best this year. I might be crazy but I think that was among the best BA stouts I've had (I sampled it before the party even started, so I wasn't on a fucked palate or anything). I should open a bottle soon.

    Yes, but they're filling different niches. I mean, how does any beer really compare to a whiskey if you're talking about cost/alcohol? And besides, the entire goal of pricing high is to have people say "But I can get ____ for that money! I'm not buying this!" The cost of the whiskey that the beer is aged in is pretty irrelevant to that (since you can substitute pretty much anything into the blank, it doesn't need to be that particular whiskey. Even in the case of the EC20, which was $30 but I think really good, you can say "But I could get a 750 of bourbon for cheaper and enjoy it for longer!" It doesn't really matter that you can't get a 750 of EC20 for cheaper). I get that it's sort of a funny thing to think about, but I can't really see why that's relevant to the price.
    Maybe I'm crazy, but I just don't see a bubble. People on this site and in the industry just don't know what they're talking about when it comes to what a bubble means. The worst-case scenarios I've read have basically been "oh no this will turn into a normal industry once it actually gets meaningfully competitive." Yeah, no shit. When every decent-sized town has a few craft brewers crap ones can't coast by because they're the only game in town. Imagine if instead of always having real restaurants we only had McDonald's, BK, and Wendy's for 20 years. Then suddenly new independent restaurants start opening, some become chains. There'd be a bunch of shitty ones run by people who shouldn't be running restaurants, but because there's no competition in their segment they'd get by until someone good opens one. That's all we're seeing and that's all we're going to see.

    Is craft beer going to continue to grow at 10% a year for forever? No, of course not, linearly projections never work. But the idea that we're going to see more failures than you'd expect from creative destruction is, in my view, unlikely. How do craft spirits factor into this? They might slow down the growth, and if they really take off will probably lower the maximum amount of craft beer that the US can support, but that's not really a big deal. So will that, in your terms, "accelerate the shakeout"? I suppose if you define "the shakeout" as the typical creative destruction you expect in a dynamic capitalist system, but otherwise I'd have to say that I reject the premise.

    That was a fucking long post.
  15. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (470) California Dec 11, 2010

    I don't think location costs contribute nearly as much to bottle price as simply price expectations of the industry, otherwise breweries like Midnight Sun would be a hell of a lot more expensive due to the logistics of shipping (ingredients and finished product.) $20-30 is the going rate for BA beers these days, and make no mistake - it's a trend, not a requirement for profitability. Unless, of course, overhead for those beers doubled in the last 5-6 years, since that seems to be when the $20 beer started showing up regularly in shops. Obviously small volume (300 gallon batches) significantly affect the pricing of Eclipse and other BA beers, but as stated before - they are expensive because they can be.

    And the whiskey comparison is a valid discussion because it can't really be explained. Whiskey generally costs more to make than beer. Whiskey is basically distilled beer. So take your beer-making equipment, add a distillery, and age the product for multiple years. The only explanation I can think of is production volume - most distilleries make a lot more whiskey than Fifty Fifty makes Eclipse. But relative price considering overhead seems that it should be a lot higher overall for distilled, aged spirits than a simple BA stout.

    So why are some BA stouts $25-30 a bottle? Is it because they use expensive ingredients? Is it due to the aging requirement? Is it the cost of the barrels? Most of the time, the answer is "no."

    It's because they can be. Simple consumer-reaming economics. Same line of reasoning applies to wine, fashion, Apple products, etc.
  16. I dunno, Midnight Sun is definitely on the high side (~$10 bombers of non BA stuff) whenever I come across them, and frankly so is every Hawaiian offering I've seen (although Alaskan Brewery is relatively nicely priced, so that kind of makes your point). Of course the increased shipping cost for the State of Alaska would be offset by their low real estate, low taxation (don't they just give mineral $$$ to residents?) thereby making it a potential indistinguishable scenario costwise when compared with Lake Tahoe real estate and California taxation etc. . .

    I think it can be explained.
    1) Kentucky is a more friendly business environment for than California is, especially since Kentucky embraces and protects its bourbon industry moreso than California does barrel aged beer (be it the lack of regulation or taxation, in fact, CA specifically adds a tax for barrel aged beer).
    2) the real estate in rural Kentucky is massively less than it is around Lake Tahoe. Like I said, it isn't just Eclipse, its FiftyFiftys entire pricing structure that is significantly higher than other breweries. How often you pay $6.25 for a 4.9%, 18 ibu golden ale? Its probably 20% less where the average BA drinks. . . just like a similar barrel aged counterpart is 20% less where the average BA drinks too.
    3) Economies of scale you previously mentioned
  17. Agree 100%. I was kind of ashamed at first, to admit liking the most expensive and probably most rare of the bottles this year the most.

    But then I realized I also love the Christian Brothers Brandy and Rebel Yell versions (cheap liquor), so that should help me keep some barrel aged street cred, if I ever had any, if such a thing even exists . . .
    PaulStoneAnchor likes this.
  18. I spend a fair amount of time in AK for work, and there is a significant markup on midnight sun bottles in Cali compared to what they sell for in anchorage. Easily 25%+ markup. I don't know how this post has any relevance to the topic of this thread, just a friendly public service announcement.
  19. Sebowski

    Sebowski Savant (270) California Jan 11, 2010

    No it's not. It's ridiculous. Do you think a bottle of Port Wine costs more than the Balvenie Port Wood that was aged in its' barrel? Does it matter? Same for Scotch aged in Sherry Casks or even, wait for it.... BOURBON BARRELS!
  20. how long are port or sherry aged compared to scotch?

    there's a lot more overlap between barrel-aged beer and bourbon than there is between straight beer and bourbon. i'm surprised anyone is arguing they are NOT at least partially-substitutional goods.

    no, it doesn't have to be that particular whiskey, and i'm not pretending that consumers make rational decisions like that. but there are a few apples to apples cases where the substitutional distinction becomes apparent - it's not like i'm the only one pointing out the whiskey price point comparison.

    and i'm glad you're here to educate everyone on it, but before you fall over yourself explaining what a bubble is, re-read my post: i didn't use the word bubble. yes, there will be a shakeout when production > demand. it doesn't have to be disastrous, but some breweries will be first in line on the chopping block.

    there were 3 consecutive years of beer sales declining (2009 to 2011). some of that decline was in lost market share to spirits (see slide 7 of the discus report). there's a lot of overlap between consumers of beer and spirits, and i'd argue a lot of that crossover is going to be found in the barrel-aged beer segment. if those goods are already substitutional, then the question becomes: "what causes a person to tip from one product to another?" i submit it's when you get a unique case like this: a barrel-aged beer costing more than its underlying whiskey.

    good points if the brewery started out at a high price point, but it's been increasing prices by $2-$3 a year ($10 more than the bottles i bought 2 years ago). are real estate prices rising there? i don't think this is a cost of production increase.

    what i love about threads like this is that i can repeat someone else's sentiment that goes by relatively unremarked upon - but if i say it, suddenly people get pissed.
    BdubleEdubleRUN likes this.
  21. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    Yeah, I never said you did, but rather that I think the common sentiment that craft beer is "due" for a decline can be attributed to a faulty understanding of bubbles. I expected you to know exactly what one is. I was responding to the argument that you weren't advancing, which I suppose is confusing.

    Anyway, I don't think we really disagree. Of course there will come a point where demand is sated, but that's obviously true. And of course shitty breweries are going to fail, and that good breweries will replace shitty breweries. I don't think "bad businesses won't be able to stay in business because there's meaningful competition in their location" is a very strong statement. (Of course, I'm treating the average microbrewery as a local business, which I think is still true.)
    Well, since craft beer grew in that time, I'm not sure that this means anything. I remember hearing that most of the share change from beer to spirits was dudebros switching to vodka from subpremium to get wasted. But I may be misremembering. Either way, I won't argue that there's no crossover at all, I'm sure that there is, and I'm sure that craft spirits will eat into craft beer on some level (and vice versa, too). But I believe that will only affect the level at which craft beer plateaus, not really how hard the "crash" is when the plateau happens ("crash" because I don't think there will be one).

    As for the tipping because of price over the same spirit, sure, that could be an effect on the margin. I'd guess that 50-50's use of the pokemon effect is stronger.
  22. That's kind of Business101.

    It's how you build a brand. You're not out to make a profit in the early years, (its nice if it happens, but unrealistic to expect) you're building buzz, even if its a loss leader. Once you have built that brand, you can start charging more to make a profit once you got your demand established. This isn't unique to FiftyFifty, the beer industry, or even the restaurant industry, its a pretty common business strategy across the board, which makes the "if the brewery started out at a high price point" thing irrelevant to me. Not to mention, brewer gotta prove to owner that this is a viable thing demand wise before dropping all kinds of additional investment coin in expansion for all this.

    Yes, sales are up 27% in the Lake Tahoe area the last 12 months, inventory of homes, half what they were 2 years ago.
  23. you're saying a $25 barrel-aged beer is a loss leader for them? i guess at this point we're challenging each other on every detail and we've reached an impasse where we can't proceed without looking at their balance sheet. personally, i find the contention ridiculous...
    BdubleEdubleRUN likes this.
  24. No, that is not what I have said, nor what I'm saying.

    I'm saying the $15 PVW price back in 2008 was probably not turning a profit when you add up all the aforementioned factors like real estate, taxation/regulation & a small scale operation. That's the beer that built the attention for Eclipse. Now they charge $21-22 for most other barrels four years later. I wouldn't contend that $21-22 is a loss leader, so I wouldn't contend $25 is either. I'm telling you, $21 for a bottle of barrel aged stout is not outrageous when the same brewery charges $6.25 for 14oz of its golden ale on tap at the source.

    Challenging each other on every detail? I think we agree on a lot more than we disagree. Which I guess, ironically, I guess I disagree with your position, which is a point that also corroborates your point!
  25. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (470) California Dec 11, 2010

    You're missing the point. Which one is more expensive to make? Which one is aged longer? There is a clear disparity between Eclipse and the bourbon to which it is affiliated. The bourbon is far more expensive to make than the beer.

    EC20 is aged at least 20 times as long as Eclipse, and required at least 4 times the fermentable sugars to make. Yet a bottle of Elijah Craig is only 4 or 5 times the price of Eclipse.

    How do you explain the difference? Is that really attributable to economies of scale when EC only made 80 barrels of EC20 and Fifty Fifty made 6 barrels of Eclipse EC20?
  26. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    Because people are willing to pay $33 (or whatever it was) for EC20 Eclipse, but not $600 for EC20 bourbon. I'm confused as to why people are expecting luxury goods to be priced based on the cost of manufacture, has that ever been the case with anything?
    afrokaze likes this.
  27. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (470) California Dec 11, 2010

    You're right - it's because they can. And that's my beef with Fifty Fifty. Eclipse doesn't need to be $30 a bottle for it to be profitable. That's not even addressing the fact that it's not worth the price compared to other BA beers - it's like paying $20 for a pint.

    When in the hell did the industry think it was OK to sell a pint of 10% BBA beer for $20?

    There are some recently developed issues with pricing in craft beer that are indeed bullshit. Yes, I'm always the person to complain about price because it seems that I'm one of the few people who was drinking high end craft beer 7 or 8 years ago and remembers that "fancy" BA stuff was $10-12 a bottle.

    Hopefully my OT, sometimes long, usually fact-based rants will change some new BA's mind about certain beers. At the very least if we all complain loud enough, we could see an industry shift.
    Levitation likes this.
  28. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    There's a lot more to your post, but I'm not going to address because I don't really see the point. You see high prices as being "bullshit" and nothing will change your mind, so I'm not going to try.

    However, with this quoted part, I want to note that there's no particular reason that they should get to some amount of profit and stay there. Doing that leaves money on the table and is, frankly, stupid business. (As an aside, it could make sense to underprice something as a form of advertising, or building brand loyalty, but you have to think of that as a cost being paid.) So the fact that it could be profitable at some much lower threshold is irrelevant. And, besides, you have no idea what 50-50's current business is like. Maybe in order to make this much they've had to get loans such that they do need to increase the price. Maybe that money is being rolled back into the program for next year. You just don't know.

    Regardless, the price is this high for now because there's so little competition. Once BCBS is year-round on shelves in 20 states, we'll see prices come down. (That's another case where the comparison to whiskey just flat-out fails, I can get a pretty good bottle of bourbon anytime I want from practically any grocery or liquor store I walk into. That's not even close to the case with BA beers.)
  29. Had a glass of the Elijah Craig 12 at the brewery and it was crazy delicious. Not $30 a bottle delicious though. I'm glad I was able to buy just one pour of it.
  30. Mellow Corn only because it's the only one I haven't tried yet.
  31. according to this post, 50/50 is doing a second round of mailorder from the brewery. i wonder if they're having trouble moving all of their product at their current prices... have they done anything like this in past years after selling the beers to distro?

    btw, the cheapest price for those bottles including tax and shipping is probably about $28. so yeah, it looks like the comparison to ba old rasputin flips when you use that price point.
    BdubleEdubleRUN likes this.

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