Barrel-Aged Stouts Have Gone From Curiosity to Cult Collectible...

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by drtth, Dec 5, 2018 at 10:40 PM.

  1. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    I think the problem, from a consumer's POV, is should the market really be dictated by the handful of maniacs who are willing to spend obscene amounts of money on beer? When TG posted the $100 price for KBBS, I KNEW it would sell out immediately despite almost everyone on this site, and everyone I know personally, saying it was utterly ridiculous. This also happens with things like the Bourbon County release in Chicago. You can show up early in the morning the day it is released, wait in line a few hours, and get a full allotment. Yet, every year, people are there 24+ hours before the stuff goes on sale. I'd rather breweries not dictate their terms of sale based upon these individuals.

    Sure, it's easy to just, "WELL SUPPLY AND DEMAND YOU MORON." Which hey, I get. But we are now dealing with a landscape in beer where it's moving away from where it has ever been in the past. For people like me who have been involved with it for decades, it sucks to see, but I also understand the reality of it.

    I guess my underlying point here is there's a happy medium to be found here. $100 for a 12oz bottle is absurd for 99.9% of the craft beer drinking population. Pricing it at $10 would also be silly. I've begun a personal boycott of TG and I hope others do the same (which again, I doubt they will).
     
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  2. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,226) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I agree that $100 for a 12 oz bottle is ridiculous.
    That said I would pay it in a second.
     
  3. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (422) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    FWIW Fort Collins isn't what I'd exactly call BFE... by that logic so is Bolder, @EvenMoreJesus , and really literally anywhere in the state that isn't Denver. Though you point about them being there for some time is true.

    See anywhere in Wyoming for an example of BFE, brah
     
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  4. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Barrel prices have definitely increased. I'd agree with you there.

    However, I won't agree with you here. If you're using a barrel broker that's selling you subpar barrelage, you need to find another broker.

    A good barrel broker won't sell these types of barrels. Caveat emptor if you're buying barrels from a source other than a broker or the distillery itself, though.
     
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,710) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Unfortunately the 'answer' to that question is yes. :slight_frown:

    FWIW I agree 100% with you that this is not an ideal situation but as long as the "maniacs" have money to spend (waste?) we are where we are.

    I take solace in knowing there are plenty of high quality commercial beers being sold at reasonable prices. Plus there is homebrew!!:slight_smile:

    Cheers!

    P.S. I just wish that Lagunitas would have packaged this year's version of Willetized Coffee Stout in 12 ounce bottles (6-packs) like they did in previous years. I saw this beer in bombers at my local beer store and I just walked on by. I have little doubt that some "maniacs" will purchase those beers instead of me.:flushed:
     
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  6. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Come on, dude. Fort Collins was little more than Colorado St. and cow pasture when NB started the brewery.
     
  7. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I don't think a boycott is necessary. I just don't drink ridiculously priced beer unless someone else brings it to a tasting. Problem solved. No reason to boycott an entire brewery's lineup if you don't want to.
     
  8. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    Well, with TG, it was more of a last straw type thing. If you read the TG thread regularly, it's pretty obvious the owner is not the nicest guy.

    There's tons and tons of incredible beers that sit on shelves, no reason to support breweries that are run by jerks.
     
  9. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (422) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    You're right about that, but your point was about where the BAP 'is' not what it was like when the brewery started... long before they started their BAP.
     
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  10. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    100% with you on that.
     
  11. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    It's really not though. Almost every other brewery out there prices beers at a reasonable level.
     
  12. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (422) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Having tried both... I'll always give my money to Epic for BBB for 1/13 the price of KBBS.
    There's no way anyone who's had both can convince me that KBBS is 13x the beer that BBB is- sorry if you don't.
     
  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    NB Fort Collins opened in 1991 and they started their barrel program, with La Folie, in the early 2000s. I'm going with "FC was STILL cow pasture". :wink:
     
  14. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,333) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium

    Good point about the few willing to pay those prices essentially setting the market. Admittedly, I was rambling on from my own rather convoluted point of view. Basically, I'm willing to pay for an indulgence but there's a limit to my personal madness.

    I'd also agree that other breweries, many of them the small and local variety, put out excellent beers in very limited quantities (some even barrel aged stouts) with a reasonable quantity limit, higher but not outrageous prices, and manageable crowds. While there is an apparent disconnect somewhere, there would also seem to be some sort of reasonable middle ground that would possibly slow down the madness. But as you say - as long as the maniacs buy every drop, we're not going to see that day when it changes.

    I don't know TG other than knowing the name and that the owner is less than warm and fuzzy - not present in my area. How much of this magical KBBS potion do they make? Regardless of the volume, it would seem to me tough to justify a hundred buck price tag (and it is a 12 ounce bottle???) other than using the argument that people pay it willingly. As some are saying the ingredient cost, time, cost, and space cost aren't there to support that price. I will argue with my own point of view as well - there's art and skill involved, but not THAT much... Arguably, the coolship beers from Allagash are the riskiest (open fermentation) and most time/space/labor/skill/art intensive beers they make and they still run around the twenty buck mark.
     
  15. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    I forget the exact amount but KBBS was originally released for ~$20 when it was first released in 2014, yes just five years ago. That's some heavy ingredient/cost of production inflation :slight_smile:
     
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  16. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,883) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    I'm already tired of the TG KBBS debate already. It's not normal, and an example of limited production with the crowd to support it. Have the reasonably priced options left your shelves?

    $250 dollars is absurd for a pair of sneakers considering a good pair of running shoes can be had for $100, but 'sneakerheads' will pay that $250 for that limited release, or sometimes even much, much more on the secondary market. Is it justifiable? It depends on who you ask, but I say yes. Despite there being extremely limited runs of Adidas sneakers with boost soles, you can still walk into a store and buy an average pair with the same sole for much less. Likewise, you can do so with beer, picking up a quality barrel aged offering for something in the 75 cents to a dollar per ounce price range vs. having to pay $100 for 12oz of BA stout. I could bring up examples of limited whiskeys, clothes, cars, etc. fetching abnormal prices. We happen to have a brewery that has enough mystique to demand a price, and the fan base to support.

    Obviously, if this becomes a trend within the entire industry, I will revert, but I think that would be absolute absurdity. There will always be a market for BA stout consumers who can't afford $100 per 12oz, and likewise, there will be breweries - ehm - businesses that work to meet that demand. Likewise, other shoe, whiskey, clothes, etc. companies aren't going to go out of business because they have an affordable product.
     
  17. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    I mean, it definitely seems to be a building trend.

    In the Chicago market, I complained when we saw our first 4 pack of 16oz NE IPAs that was over $20. A bunch of people pushed back giving all sorts of excuses and sure enough, 1-2 years later, a TON of breweries in the area are doing it.

    The same thing can be said for BA stouts in the Chicago market. Sure there are still some that are reasonably priced, but the general trend is now BA stouts are, at minimum, $20 for a 24oz bottle. But tons of breweries are pushing higher than that.

    Sure, TG is an outlier, but you've got your head in the sand if you haven't seen prices increasing pretty substantially. Not to TG levels, but that helps create a market effect where brewers can say, "well hey, sure we increased, but not like TG!!"
     
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  18. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Devotee (446) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Decent article. Thanks for posting. There isn't a lot surprising in the article. However, most of the quotes came from

    It would have been nice to have broader view of the market (I.e. don't agree with quality assessment of Fifty-Fifty). While I can't argue with his comments on people not buying Eclipse in his bottling shop, I don't think his viewpoint on the quality has any merit or is a small data point (I.e. another data point would be the GABF award they just won).

    In summary, BA beer costs more to make and we pay more than it's probably worth (I.e. they get high margins). Oh, well. :stuck_out_tongue:
     
  19. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,883) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    I've seen large bottle stouts hovering in the $15-30 range for as long as I can remember. Black Tuesday is still right at $30, and that includes enough mash to make a 20% ABV. Any price changes around here have been sneaky alterations when formats changed, i.e. Firestone Walker 22oz to 12oz, and Alesmith's 750mL to 16oz. Eclipse still seems to be hovering right around $30.

    Sounds like Chicago is building up some steam. You also have a higher cost of living. I'm sorry you're experiencing that, but it's definitely not the case here at all.

    Now NE IPA inflation is a different thing, but I do see that increasing. Our first NE IPA 4 pack to hit $20 was just released and sold out in under an hour. Makes me wonder what the price will be this weekend. Suppose if it makes another $1 jump per can I'll stick to ordering drafts and picking up quality beer for cheaper across the street.
     
  20. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Initiate (193) Dec 24, 2011 Texas

    Good call on the format changes being sneaky price hikes, it's definitely something we are seeing here too, especially for stouts.
     
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  21. beernuts

    beernuts Disciple (324) Jan 23, 2014 Virginia
    Trader

    ok but what I’m asking is how would a barrel broker (or anyone for that matter) know which barrels will be more susceptible to infection?

    I’m always open to learning something new, but my theory is that this is not really possible and therefore I don’t believe that increased barrel demand has resulted in increased risk of infection.
     
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  22. Junior

    Junior Disciple (333) May 23, 2015 Michigan
    Trader

    I would not. Maybe for a 4-pack.
     
  23. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Simplest of several variables.

    Alcohol kills bugs. Wet barrels have a gallon or so of high proof whiskey in the pores of the wood. The longer they take to get from distillery to brewer the drier they get, apparently even if properly bunged after draining. Some brewers have purchased and accepted delivery of completely or neary dry barrels.

    There are a few other factors but....

    Edit: Oh, and the wine barrels purchased by Cantillon for their use are deliberately chosen for the particular wine and just happen to contain certain infections which Cantillon doesn't care about since von Roy plans on using open air fermentation in the koolschip to catch the wild yeast and associated bacteria from the night air before storing the beer in a non-bunged barrel to begin fermentation. So it seems that ABV somehow makes a difference to presense of some sort of bug in the barrel.
     
    #63 drtth, Dec 6, 2018 at 11:31 PM
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 11:46 PM
  24. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I'd agree.
     
  25. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Actually, 55 gallon barrels have about 5 gallons within the staves and heads when they are wet. Regardless, it's about the percentage of alcohol in solution that inhibits certain yeast and/or bacteria, not that which is in the wood and dry barrels can be rehydrated quite easily. Poorly made barrels are a different story.

    I've never heard of JVR choosing barrels because of the character of their previous inhabitant. They buy neutral barrelage, as lambic does not require wood or spirit or wine character in their finished beers. Although it is splitting hairs, fermentation does not happen in the coolship. Inoculation does. Fermentation occurs in the barrels, as you alluded to.
     
  26. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Re percentage, thank you for helping to make that clarification of the point I wanted to try and make with the two sources of barrels, ie ABV and probably total vo,ume I’d alcohol matter

    It’s not that he deliberately seeks that effect, it’s that he doesn’t care about it and wants to get the flavors into his barrel room program. (Source: on-site self guided tours, semi knowledgeable observer who is also an informavore not bothered by appearing stupid in public, multiple views of reports about brewery and brewer when he came to Philly for beer week events and my still kicking myself for not knowing enough to try to get into that limited attendance dinner at Monks when the likes of von Roy, Boon, some HORAL members all came to town for a post dinner panel discussion, etc)
     
    #66 drtth, Dec 7, 2018 at 8:19 AM
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 8:30 AM
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  27. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Oh . . . no doubt, but Cantillon (and other lambic makers) clean their barrels pretty thoroughly, with very hot water and chains, before racking inoculated wort into them. They definitely invite microbial diversity, but they also want to control their end product as much as they can. It really is more science-based process than they let on with the "cobwebs and spiders" bit.

    And, yeah, you should definitely kick yourself regularly for not attending that dinner. :wink:
     
  28. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    That process only cleans out beer stone and doesn’t sanitize. Still bugs and critters deep in them pores.
     
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  29. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (975) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Trader

    Sounds like you managed to exaggerate the impact of everything that goes into barrel aged beer costs except the thing that actually impacts the cost the most which is the space it takes up and the time it takes to turn investment into sales.

    Opportunity costs are maybe negligible and hard to quantify. Pliny the Younger famously came at a high opportunity cost because Russian River was already at max capacity so brewing a beer that took more tank space longer than other beers that would sell out as fast as they could make them meant that the opportunity cost is high. For how many breweries is making a batch of imperial stout limiting to their production capacity in such a way that it constrains their ability to produce beers they’d otherwise sell as fast as they can brew them?

    Breweries don’t typically one and done their barrels, so that $150 a barrel number is adding pennies to the cost of the final product of each beer.

    Additional labor costs and evaporation, too.

    But this is largely specious. No one is questioning that barrel aged beers are more expensive to produce than non, and it’s also perfectly clear they are a particularly high margin item in most cases.
     
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  30. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (975) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Trader

    Plenty will and have, they’ve lost hundreds of dollars from me already. But the audience is so big it’s hard to quantify. But just because it’s hard to quantify doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
     
  31. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (864) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Well . . . I am. If you said that they were more expensive to produce than MOST non-barrel aged beers, I'd be on board. As it is, I'm not, as not every barrel aged beer is more expensive to make than every non-barrel aged beer.
     
  32. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I actually agree with much of what you say here. Now take some time to trace this sub thread all the way back up to the original comment I first responded to and follow it’s evolution over time. In my view somebody in this sub thread did claim there was basically no difference in cost. Thanks.
     
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  33. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (975) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Trader

    I’ll take your word for it
     
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  34. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    If we ever have a chance meeting in the “real” world I’ll buy the first round so we can communicate “face to face” without the handicaps built into this environment.
     
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  35. errantnight

    errantnight Savant (975) Jul 7, 2005 Iowa
    Trader

    Well I’m moving to DC and have friends in Philly so maybe not so crazy? And only if you let me buy the second round.

    Cheers
     
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  36. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,647) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Done!
     
  37. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (432) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    I'd buy that $100 12oz bottle of KBBS in a heartbeat!



    (then sell it to some sucker for at least 5x face value...)
     
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,710) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Didn't you mean to say "maniac" here!?!:stuck_out_tongue:

    Cheers!