Beer traders vs. non-beer traders: The Price of Craft

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by SpeedwayJim, Jan 30, 2013.

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  1. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,313) Jun 19, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    If you look through BA's Beer Talk Thread as well as all of the regional threads, one of the topics of discussion that comes up the most is the rising price of craft and how outrageously priced some beers are...

    My question is this, do you think there's a big difference in mentality between beer traders and non-beer traders on this front? If you do trade beer, are you more accepting of the continually rising price of craft? or do you think the 2 things are completely unrelated?

    For me, because I do trade pretty often, I feel like I'm more accepting of beers that cost in the $20-$30 per bomber range because the way I reason, heck, if I'm willing to pay for shipping to get a beer I really want, I'm not gonna fret about the high price of a beer that I want that I can get locally.

    What do y'all think (Beer trader or Non-trader)?
  2. Andygirl

    Andygirl Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 Michigan

    The reason I am accepting of paying higher beer prices is simply because really good beer is still an excellent value in comparison to really good wine or booze.
  3. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I think so. Having done some trading I am well aware that the cost of getting beer is basically double when going that route. If you do that long enough, the $30 bottle of Eclipse aged in Elijah Criag 12yr. barrels that I saw last night doesn't make your jaw hit the floor (as mine did). Beer trading is a load of fun, being able to share a wonderful brew with someone that can't get it, coming home from work to see that package waiting at your doorstep, trying stuff that you have longed for, it's all amazing. But the cost of it, for me at least, is just too much. As such, I shy away and, accordingly, I am more shocked by the rising prices of some brews.
  4. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Yep - in addition to your point on the cost of trading, "special occasion" beers quickly become "Tuesday after dinner" beers for a lot of traders. These beers tend to be expensive and the traders tend to become more comfortable with this.
    digdug1810 and Pelican5 like this.
  5. loafinaround

    loafinaround Aspirant (296) Jul 16, 2011 New York

    have never traded. Trying not to enter the $$$ shipping habit... My rationale is that f-it, I'm in the ny metro area and should be able to find ample good beers, and shipping adds a ton to already inflated ny beer prices.
    But yeah, it works both ways. I rationalize high bottle prices by saying "well, at least I never pay for shipping!"
  6. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (480) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    I dont trade often bc its a pain in the ass. I only traded once.
  7. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I think that the more important factor is how much disposable income you have. That correlates with both trading and tolerance for higher prices, making it seem like they drive each other. I don't think they do.
  8. fox227

    fox227 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 California

    I "traded" for a bottle of the Abyss my father sent from Oregon. The shipping was about 20$, so I felt bad and sent him a bottle of wine he really likes, which was like 30$ then 25$ to ship. Yuck.
  9. DrDemento456

    DrDemento456 Poo-Bah (3,414) May 15, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Damn and I felt I was ripped off when fed ex charged me 18 dollars to ship 8 beers.
    fox227 likes this.
  10. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    I'm somewhat in between. If it's something I want bad, I'm not terribly price conscious. I'm not sure that matters so much whether it is via trade, via online purchase/proxy, or via local purchase.

    For the other 95% of the beer out there though, I am very price conscious.

    I think what this boils down to is I've learned that the best of the best is worth paying a premium for, but run-of-the-mill "good" beer is not. i.e. $25 for an A+ level true world class beer is ok, but $15 for an A- is not. (Well, maybe once, but not repeats) Part of this is because you don't need to spend more than $2 to get a solid A- beer, but it's very hard to get that A+ at a lower price point.
    nawset, kojevergas and digdug1810 like this.
  11. EyePeeAyBryan

    EyePeeAyBryan Crusader (703) Dec 20, 2011 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I'm fighting myself with this one. I want to say "yes" because I've traded and know that sometimes doing so can just be rudiculous ($) but like Providence said, it's awesome to come home to that special beer you've read so much about and it's finally in your hands!!! My GF and I just love trying new brews, it's a way for her and I to spend time together, get drunk and not have to go meet her friends at shitty bars in Scottsdale. She knows what it costs and her and I both agree, it's certainly cheaper than two plane tickets.

    I think it's also important to remember the cost of a bottle and the cost of going out. I was happy to "pay" in trade value, about $5-$6 a bottle (including shipping fees) for BCS. The beer is stellar and the bar down the street from me sells Miller and Bud for damn near the same price in a pint. It's hard to find a 10oz pour of something really good for under $7 around my area. I'm happy to pay $10-$15 a bomber, anything under $10 always seems like a great deal.
    SpeedwayJim, BMitch and stoney1031 like this.
  12. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    At the present time I don't trade. It's actually more fun to search out different brews when I travel and bring some home or keep in touch with friends and relatives who travel and ask them to either ship me something or bring it back. The price rarely matters since for all intents and purposes most of the beer I get this way will be just like a one-off release for me. For example, I tried Zombie Dust on a recent trip to Chicago and would love to have some more but it's not something I will go out of my way for. However, next time I get within 50 miles of Three Floyds, I hope I'll be traveling by car and not by air. It's a whole lot easier to transport a case or two of beer in a car.
  13. BMitch

    BMitch Initiate (170) Jul 10, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    These two things for me... plus the fact that after spending many a night in my twenties going to bars and paying $5 or more for a bottle of Bud Light before I really got into craft, buying a great beer like Hopslam for $20/6 doesn't seem all that outlandish.

    Really as with most "hobbies", I think it's the disposable income part that is probably the biggest factor in how we view whether beer is "expensive" or not. As a single guy in his early 30's who makes an alright salary and doesn't have to worry about budgeting for a family, you can probably understand why I don't consider beer as being all that costly versus the guy having to support a wife and 3 kids.
  14. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I'm the same way, but what made the difference to me was getting a kegerator. When I a solid, good-but-not-mind-blowing beer on tap for the equivalent of <$1.50 a pint (Sucks, Daytime, Aroma Coma, Death & Taxes, etc), why would I want to spend $10 on a bomber of undated IPA? Something has to be really good or really different from what I can get on tap for me to buy it now, so it's basically only BA stouts and sours. I can't remember the last time I bought a bottled IPA other than Pliny.

    Same with trading, really, why trade for Hopslam when Sucks is better and on tap in my dining room for 1/10 the cost of trading? There's no reason to.
    westcoastbeerlvr and tewaris like this.
  15. Jonada

    Jonada Champion (841) May 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    EyePeeAyBryan likes this.
  16. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,110) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Ditto. I've never traded and have little interest for multiple reasons (including shipping cost). But I LOVE searching for beers when I travel.
    nitlionktl likes this.
  17. Goldstar81

    Goldstar81 Initiate (129) Jul 15, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    When I first started on this site a couple years ago I thought the idea of people from across the county being excited about beers I can get in LA was super cool especially since I just joined Bruery Reserve Society and had access to a lot of beers people wanted. I did about 30 trades with 20 or so people-some of which I still keep in touch with and have met or visited but now I only "trade" with a few people from areas around the country that have access to beers I want-I've got a guy in Chicago, one in Washington, upstate New York etc. I know when I get a box from them its going to be good and visa versa. To me thats what beer advocacy is all about.
  18. Drtfinelli

    Drtfinelli Initiate (0) Jun 7, 2012 New Hampshire

    Trading is FUN and equal, in cost/oz, to getting good beer in bars/restaurants.
  19. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Being a Homebrewer and mostly non-trader, it has been difficult for me to spring for more expensive bottles. I've been lucky enough to have the cash for a little splurging in the last few years though.

    Becoming a homebrewer at even an intermediate level of experience really compounds the price perspective. I have a hard time spending $10 on 22oz of DIPA when I can brew 5 gallons of it for ~$15.
  20. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Are you hiring a man to ride a pony across the nation to deliver your packages or what? Those shipping charges are absurd. I have never paid that much to ship 6-8 bombers, even. Possibly close to $20 for 8 beers.
    litheum94 and stantheposterman like this.
  21. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (670) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    WOW. Back when I was brewing in the early 1990's I was making just under 2 cases for around $40. That was with malt syrup, pellets and whole hops for dry hopping. Has the cost come down or is there a better way to go? I would love to start again at that price. Any info please let me know.

  22. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    I brew all-grain. I buy my malt by the sack and my hops by the pound. A 55lb sack of malt costs me anywhere from $36-50 and a pound of hops costs me anywhere from $10-17. Yeast is the most expensive part but I often reuse it batch to batch.

    I drink far more homebrew than commercial beer but I probably spend four times as much money on commercial than I do on homebrew.
    fmccormi likes this.
  23. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    All grain, for starters, is much cheaper. Malt extract brewing is about as expensive as it gets. That said, ~$40 today will get you around 2 cases using the same stuff you used.
  24. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Big difference in price between overnight/2-day delivery charges and regular overland delivery charges. Perhaps they were using the overnight and you use the overland?
  25. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    $15 for a DIPA? Doing all grain and the same thing as you and I wasn't nearly that low. Propane $20 for 4 sessions = $5 in gas, yeast is $8 for White Labs and that's without 20lbs of 2-row or 8oz of hops for a 'lite' dipa.
    EyePeeAyBryan likes this.
  26. bahns

    bahns Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 Illinois

    That's funny, I've actually come to the opposite conclusion lately and find myself buying a decent bottle of bourbon or Scotch over a highly priced bomber or 750. A key moment of realization was when I saw the price of Eclipse aged in Elijah Craig 12 yr barrels selling for $35.... when I could have an actual bottle of Elijah Craig 12 yr for only $30!

    I still love craft beer, but I think the prices are actually reaching the point (for me) where a decent bottle of booze is actually a better value in terms of nights of enjoyment it will provide and how many friends I can share it with. Eye of the beholder stuff, I know...
    mnguyen281 likes this.
  27. mnguyen281

    mnguyen281 Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2009 Texas

    Right on point. At the end of the night, the purpose of drinking is to get a little drunk. I love my beer, but if it came down to picking between a bottle of black tuesday or a bottle of the yamazaki, the whiskey wins every time.
  28. KalH

    KalH Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2009 North Carolina

    Glad to do it but I recently spent close to $20 to get ONE brew to a good friend only one state away. Shipping companies are really just giving it to us hard nowadays. Also had a hard time telling my wife that I spent that much!
  29. caponeduke

    caponeduke Aspirant (239) Jul 28, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I trade and am willing to deal with the cost to get the whales or the shit I love (ie Alpine etc). I do agree that it has reset my idea on 'expensive beer' though.
  30. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    yeah, i'm not sure what comparison people are using.

    an $18 six-pack = omgwtf! but it's 25 cents an ounce, $3 / drink.
    an $18 bomber = no problem! but it's 81 cents an ounce, $9 / drink.
    a $30 bomber = i'll take 20! except it's $1.36 an ounce, $15 / drink.
    a $50 bourbon = solid. $1.97 an ounce, $5 / drink.
    a $70 scotch = pretty decent. $2.76 an ounce, $ 7 / drink.

    which is the most expensive on a per-drink basis? too many people look at the absolute amount they're spending on a single transaction and neglect to factor in the cost over many transactions. most high-end beer is a poorer value than a nice bourbon or whiskey. i'll still buy it, as i love beer, but i don't delude myself into thinking i'm getting a better value. the better value is in the $10 six-pack.

    even apples to apples: people complained about $16 sixers of ruination but had no issues with $8 bombers of same. i am convinced a lot of ba's have no idea what the word "value" means.

    funny, i've made that point a number of times and pissed off a lot of people who think it's preposterous. but it's obviously a comparison people make in their heads... barrel-aged beer vs. bourbon as a substitutional good.

    anyway, i don't really place hard price limits on myself. i quit trading not because i couldn't afford it, but because i was spending time (and money) shipping to get less-good beer in return. that $15 growler of hill farmstead is actually $25 when you factor in shipping, extras, and time (not to mention i'd probably have to give up something ridiculously rare) - i'd rather fill 2 alpines for that.
  31. mecummins

    mecummins Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2012 Illinois

    This is what I do. Whenever I travel, I always bring back a few samples of local breweries. My best friend's husband travels for his job and is always up for shuttling a bottle or two home for me too.

    I've kind of come around to thinking of craft beer prices as I would a bottle of wine. Most of the time if you do your research, you will get what you pay for. I absolutely hate paying shipping for anything, but I will pay $15-20 for a special bottle of craft as long as I consider the beer worth it. It won't be a pizza night beer, but for a special occasion? I'd spend that much and more on a bottle of wine.
  32. ShogoKawada

    ShogoKawada Meyvn (1,247) May 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

    trading is fun but it's a terrible waste of money.
  33. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

    I got out of trading due to the cost, time, and effort associated with the process. I am happy with the decision that I made.
    MarcatGSB, ShogoKawada and ehammond1 like this.
  34. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    Probably a bit low, yes now that I look at it. Probably more like $25-30 for something aggressively hopped.
  35. fmccormi

    fmccormi Meyvn (1,330) Oct 24, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    I see a lot of interesting points and comparisons going on here . . . I wonder sometimes if I'm missing out because I'm not into trading. I'd really love to try it, just send out a couple boxes every once in a while, but I simply can't afford that shit unless I stop buying beer for myself altogether and accept that I'll be drinking one or two beers a week and that's it. To be honest, I feel that I already spend more than I should on beer as it is; that encompasses the stuff I buy for myself, the bottles I give to or share with friends and family, bringing sixers to parties, and the occasional pint at a bar. (I say "occasional" because even buying beer at a bar is exceedingly rare for me—I volunteer to be DD almost all the time, as much because I enjoy doing my friends a favor as because it costs me a lot less.)

    Apparently, I need to start homebrewing—my main barriers are time, start-up costs, and liver space, because I feel like it'll probably take me a while to get good enough that I'd be really jazzed about what I'm actually going to drink, and I don't want to find myself sitting on a case and a half of beer I have no interest in anymore. That, and I'm a grad student so I don't have a toooooon of time to really get into it gung-ho.

    That said, I should probably get off this forum, get back to reading, and resolve not to buy any more beer for the next week or two. Or get a sixer of Sucks because it just landed in my area. Y'know.
    JohnnyMc and ehammond1 like this.
  36. TheJollyHop

    TheJollyHop Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 California

    Hobbyist/enthusiast/collector versus casual drinker.

    Hmm...that's a tough one :wink:
  37. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Ok, thought you were using a giant magnifying glass to boil your wort and using bottle dregs/repitches and some old as sin hops...
  38. Andygirl

    Andygirl Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 Michigan

    I understand your logic. For me though, drinking variety is a contributer to good value and I couldn't stick to two varities of liquor and be happy. Also, since my favorite wines tend to be in the $30-$80/bottle range, even very good beer has been proving to be cheaper.
  39. LobsterSalad

    LobsterSalad Initiate (0) Jan 29, 2013 California

    I'm new to the craft beer scene and right now I'm interested in trying many different beers, figuring out what I like best etc. Until I've made these discoveries, trading will be worth it, though I can see how eventually it may not be so exciting or worth it financially anymore.
    Drtfinelli likes this.
  40. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    Every other form of alcohol has expensive tiers that are socially acknowledged (wine, scotch, bourbon, etc.). Beer has just been chastised as barbaric swill until the craft movement started to change the scene. I don't think beer price is getting out of hand as much as it's just catching up.
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