Utopias pricing.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Coronaeus, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (743) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    So, today in Ontario, Sam’s Adams Utopias 2017 was released at the LCBO. 588 bottles available online. 2 per person limit. The price: C$110.75. So, about $85 US. It sold out in a few hours.

    From all I read, this is usually priced around $200-$225 in the US. How is such a low price possible here? What are US stores paying for the bottles they sell? I realize that the LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of liquor in the world, and benefits from volume purchases, but this seems like an extreme difference in price.
    Premo88 likes this.
  2. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (1,987) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Premium Trader

    Did you get one? I may have gone all in at that price.
    Beer_Economicus likes this.
  3. guinness77

    guinness77 Savant (918) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    For $85, that’s a no-brainer, and I’m on a budget.
  4. Victory_Sabre1973

    Victory_Sabre1973 Meyvn (1,478) Sep 15, 2015 Minnesota
    Premium Trader

    When I saw it locally a few years back, the store was selling it for $239. Almost bought it, but couldn't quite do it.

    For $85, I would have gladly gotten one.
    thuey, Lahey and dcotom like this.
  5. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (743) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I did. I held back this year though and only got one. I still have two bottles of 2015 that I have yet to crack open. It was a similar price that time too.
  6. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,441) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I am likely the only person around who wouldn't have immediately jumped at that price. They are 200 - 220 around here
    eppCOS, lic217, Daveshek28 and 7 others like this.
  7. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,238) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I would have bought several at that price. $200 seems the norm. Last year at GABF I got 6 pours. That paid for my ticket.
    eppCOS, pjeagles, Bitterbill and 4 others like this.
  8. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (655) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Pretty sure I could sell one for $185-$200 so that’s a free bottle for me. I’m in.

  9. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (427) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    A buddy of mine had a contact in Canada and got me one for the $85. He picks up this weekend. Cant wait to try it, finally!
    flaskman and Victory_Sabre1973 like this.
  10. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,013) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    At $25.00 bucks a bottle I might buy one as a curiosity. More than that I'm not curious because for $25.00 I can get a pretty decent bottle of Port. Just not that interested in high proof beers that as a thing are actually wandering off into the territory of other spirits that handle the job better.
  11. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (714) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    There’s two of us on here cavedave. If we fight back to back we might be able to fend the bastards off
  12. ryan1788a5

    ryan1788a5 Poo-Bah (1,905) Nov 27, 2009 Massachusetts

    Lowest I’ve ever seen it is $150. Not aware of any price decrease. If that is last year’s vintage, it may have been that a distributor “dumped” lingering stock at a lower price to get rid of it. Not sure. Definitely not what you want if you’re Sam Adams, could devalue the brand.

    Personally I think the beer is great, but considering the whiskies I can buy for that money, I’d rather spend elsewhere.
    flaskman and thesherrybomber like this.
  13. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,220) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    At that price I would have bought at least two. One to open, one to save and another to save longer.
  14. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,103) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Between this and CBS I guess you canucks get lucky sometimes. You guys still pay way to much for beer on average though. I bet half the bottles bought will be resold.
  15. DrumKid003

    DrumKid003 Aspirant (220) Aug 10, 2013 Oklahoma

    At $85 USD I would have gladly pay to buy a bottle and enjoy it over the next 12-18 months. I've never had a Utopia, of any vintage, and $85 is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying another bottle of Macallan 18yr.
  16. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (829) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    $85.00 to much IMO!
    eppCOS and GormBrewhouse like this.
  17. flaskman

    flaskman Devotee (452) Aug 3, 2015 New York

    It goes to show you how much margin there is. After reading this I would feel like a sucker if I had purchased a bottle in the US. The same goes for the CBS. We bend over and have to buy bombers and our friends get 4 packs at a reasonable price point.
  18. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (714) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    For $85 you can buy a good bottle of whisky.

    For the normal $200 you can buy a very good bottle.

    I don’t get what it is about utopias (a 28% abv blended BA beer) that makes any sort of cost consciousness go out the window, whereas up to the 20% ABV mark people will bitch about pricing that is much over $1/oz
    #18 rozzom, Sep 14, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  19. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (386) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    I'm not paying 85 for any beer
  20. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,063) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    Perhaps they're closing them out because the 2018 vintage is coming. I'd have bought at least two for $85/ea. I've heard that they go for $210 or so here. Last year I saw it for $300, but no way at that price. I've heard Costco sells it for $180, but haven't seen that here.
  21. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,063) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    It's the fancy-ass bottle, the challenge to find, the high-ABV, and the high price that make it desirable to many - just like any other luxury good. Around here a taproom or liquor store will get a bottle or two and have a tasting at $20 for a couple of ounces, so we hardly ever see it on the shelf.
    Glider likes this.
  22. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,238) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    It's pretty funny how people get chained into their own stereotypes without investigating them isn't it?
    Squire likes this.
  23. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (427) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    I never tasted Utopias, yet, but did get to smell a bottle of it and it was heavenly. The complex maple aroma has enticed me ever since. Since i'm splitting my $85 bottle with two others, paying $28 for my share (8.5oz or so, plus I get to keep the bottle) that I can enjoy over the next year or so is fine with me. Look forward to it!

    I wouldn't pay the ridiculous prices here in the US though, for reasons noted above.
  24. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (743) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    The LCBO is very far from perfect, but it’s buying power does mean we get some things for less than almost anywhere else. (Eg. Saison Dupont 330ml for C$2.75, etc.). I just find this price difference almost too hard to believe. Boston Lager and Summer Wheat are the only generally available beers by BBC here. I doubt they are great sellers. At least, great enough to get such a huge markdown.

    What does a larger store in the US pay for the bottles of Utopias they sell?
  25. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (714) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    I understand that. I’m just saying it still doesn’t make sense to me. Although there’s nothing quite like utopias, there are boatloads of rarer, much more sought after, high octane beers from much more coveted breweries - with prices that don’t get anywhere close to this. Why people are happy to spend $200 on a beer from a brewery that’s generally treated with disdain (or at best ignored) on here - is sort of beyond me. I feel like it’s a bit of a relic that for some reason (I guess the stupid ABV and fancy bottle) has had some staying power.
    thesherrybomber and bbtkd like this.
  26. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Initiate (161) Aug 2, 2017 New Jersey

    It always makes me chuckle when people say $85 bucks for a beer on here is a steal, but waiting in line for an hour is a deal breaker:grin:
    pjeagles and Harrison8 like this.
  27. Glider

    Glider Devotee (464) Nov 15, 2004 Massachusetts

    As bbtkd was saying, it’s a peek into successful beverage marketing. If you get the hype factor, scarcity, and cool packaging right, some people will pay very high prices even when it seems the hype should have worn off. See Pappy, Screaming Eagle, etc.
    thesherrybomber likes this.
  28. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (714) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Yeah man. I totally get that. Clearly I’m not articulating myself properly if I keep getting Scarcity Marketing 101 responses to my posts.

    Will try once more then I’ll throw in the towel.

    Why - already taking into account some sort of significant premium given the unique nature of the beer, the extraordinary ABV, the longevity once opened, the rarity and the packaging - does a beer from an otherwise ignored (from a beer nerd perspective) brewery, a brewery right at the Big Beer end of the craft spectrum (indeed that pushed the definition to be included), command such a high price with little to no complaints from the consumer-base. It’s a complete outlier.

    There are many more respected breweries putting out rare high ABV beer in pretty packages that would get roasted if they priced anything close to this.
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  29. Glider

    Glider Devotee (464) Nov 15, 2004 Massachusetts

    Yes, it seems like it doesn’t make sense coming from Boston Beer, but I think it had to do with establishing the hype when it came out. It was first released in 2002, and back then Boston Beer wasn’t considered an also-ran like it is today. Also, the “highest ABV”, “no other beer like this has ever been made” type comments were kept rolling long enough to justify the price. Then you get a couple people writing “best beer in the world” and it takes on a life of its own.
  30. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,694) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    Utopias is the only limited, hyped beer I can think of with an ABV north of 21% (I had to push that to 21 to not include Black Tuesday). There are some higher octane beers out there, but they don't seem to command such a hefty price.

    Still, I get your point. I view Utopias in the same light as Pappy Van Winkle whiskey. Pappy Van Winkle gets made by the same people that Buffalo Trace, Kirkland Whiskey, Eagle Rare, etc. get made by, and yet Pappy demands a premium due to its scarcity and hype. Sure, one could buy a 10 year of Pappy for $80 MSRP, or $250 for a 23 year if they find it. Then again, shops often charge a hefty mark up - and people still pay it. Something about old school, long standing hype.

    All that said, I don't know that I could stop myself from picking up a bottle of Utopias or Pappy should I happen across one or both.
    BenHoppy and rozzom like this.
  31. Alefflicted

    Alefflicted Initiate (75) Dec 2, 2017 Minnesota

    Admittedly I'd love to try it. I'm even sure it's probably damn good. But I wouldn't pay $85 for any beer. $25 is about my limit and even then I hesitate.

    Why? It's really quite simple. If I'm paying that much for alcohol it's going to be a single malt Scotch, or a damn fine Bourbon. I can get way to many great beers for $20 or less, and I refuse to overpay for a liquid based on "rarity", or "hype".
  32. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,243) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    It's around $150 out here. I've seen it as low as $125 and as much as $200, but $150 seems to be where most fall.

    As far as Utopias goes, there's not much like it. Some of those ultra-potent Brewdog and Schorschbock beers are a little similar, but none of those actually taste good. Utopias isn't my favorite, but I do feel that it tastes pretty good. It also lasts almost indefinitely. I have a bottle of 2003 that I still occasionally bust out. I don't even like aged beers, but that one is more like a liqueur.

    If anyone just wants to try it, they pour it at GABF every year. Standard 1-2oz pours just like everything else. There are usually a couple other events (like Rare Beer) that also have it available. It's obviously not worth a trip to GABF by itself, but if you're already here it's easy enough to track down.
  33. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Aspirant (274) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    $85/bottle? Even though it's 1/3 of the US price, I'd rather spend that money on something I need like groceries.
    GrumpyGas and Number1Framer like this.
  34. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (227) Jun 4, 2005 California

    Had a couple of the triple bocks back in the nineties. Remember it was pretty hard to choke down, but was drinkable and would last several nights with the cork. Still have a purple bottle. Wondering if that was the precursor to Utopias since I've never tried it :rolling_eyes:. Would consider $85 but not $200 (damn monthly budget).
  35. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,172) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Trader

    Pretty good price!
    I know you fellas usually pay less for the Cantillons as well.
  36. Daveshek28

    Daveshek28 Initiate (186) Nov 10, 2015 New York

    I had it. I may as well get a high end liquor bottle for the prices they get. I would not even come close to paying 85$ for it.
    flaskman likes this.
  37. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,243) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Yeah, the little deep blue bottles of Triple Bock were the precursor to Utopias. In those days both were pretty far out concepts. I don't know for sure, but I think Samichlaus might have still been the strongest beer in the world at the time.

    Those are the first beers I can ever remember being associated with soy sauce. Some people loved 'em, others hated 'em. Every now and then someone will show up with one at a tasting or an event and they're a total crapshoot. Some are really good while others are absolutely horrid. Even bottles from the same lot stored together.
  38. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,103) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    If I'm not mistaken when those high abv Brewdog beers were actually tested for abv they fell well short of the advertised abv.
  39. biermark

    biermark Initiate (67) Sep 9, 2008 South Carolina

    Looked at the thread on buying fresh before looking at this one.... Verrückt
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,335) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    You really think that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario would purchase beer from a US independent distributor of Boston Beer Co. against the wishes of BBC and their Canadian importer, Moosehead? (Seems it could also run into legal problems without the correct license by the wholesaler). What US BBC distributor would even have 588 botles of Utopias "lingering" in their warehouse? That's nearly 5% of the US '17 Utopias release.

    And it appears that previous Canadian release of Utopias by the LCBO have included appearance by Koch himself-
    To celebrate the anniversary and launch of this eagerly anticipated brew, LCBO will host a noon-hour guided tasting. .. by Samuel Adams Founder and Brewer Jim Koch on Thursday, February 28 (2016).
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