Why are there so many four packs?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by chuckstout, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. bjmil20

    bjmil20 Initiate (91) Oct 30, 2006 Massachusetts

    Honestly, the 16 oz 4 pack option kind of annoys me, especially for beers that are 7+ percent ABV. Double IPAs and Imperial stouts should not be in the 16 oz format, in my opinion. This size is meant for lower ABV beers like irish stout, pilsners and lagers, and IPAs in the 6% range. Whenever I open an 16 oz 8% DIPA, I almost always want to share it with someone.
     
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  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,681) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I agree with you here but I doubt that many breweries will change the format to a more logical 12 ounce size. It is all about money.

    Cheers!
     
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  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,681) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    One of the positives of today's quarantine situation?:thinking_face:

    Cheers!
     
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  4. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,348) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    No, that would be the Stovepipes.
     
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  5. Amendm

    Amendm Champion (852) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island
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    I still like 6 x 12s but have gotten used to the ubiquitous 4 x 16s.
    If your only having one... the pint is my preferred option.
    I adjusted the shelves in the fridge so the taller cans would fit a while ago.
    Cheers.
     
  6. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Devotee (496) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    I constantly go back and forth with which format is better. I swore I liked the 12 oz format better and then last night I had a SNPA and wanted something a little more after finishing it. I cracked open a Waldos, took a couple of sips, and was satisfied. So in that instance, a 16 oz can would have been better.
     
  7. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    And luckily for you, snpa comes in 16 oz format. and they're like 2 bucks a piece around here.

    Uh oh, I've become what I swore to destroy, I've initiated a SN price discussion with a Pennsylvanian :grimacing: I'm a monster!

    (Also, save your breath, I already know the snpa pint cans are 24$ a 4 pack and show up on the shelves 6 months old :wink:)
     
  8. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Devotee (496) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Not feeding into your drunken bait lol.
     
  9. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,772) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Bottles can become lightstruck.
    Two, bottles have headspace which means higher levels of DO.
    Three, buying beer comes with a cool factor doesn't it? I didnt realize everything had to be boiled down to economics. Looks like the commies won.
     
  10. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,934) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    There are such things as 12 oz cans, you know. :wink:
     
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  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,772) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Three quarter pounders? Never heard of em. :sunglasses:
     
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  12. Claude-Irishman

    Claude-Irishman Defender (673) Jun 4, 2015 New Jersey

    I just purchased a 4 pack of Jai Alai oak aged. The regular Jai Alai is rated slightly better and comes in six packs. 4 packs give the brewer 33% more profit than a six.
     
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  13. kjlcm

    kjlcm Aspirant (218) Jul 16, 2013 New Hampshire

    Love me some Jacks Abby 6 x 16oz offerings. Best of both worlds lol!
     
  14. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Devotee (496) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    That's what Pizza Boy does too for around 90% of their beers. Some of them are between $12-15 too.
     
    #174 BeastOfTheNortheast, May 2, 2020
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
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  15. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    That assumes the beers have the same costs. Clearly there are extra costs associated with making this beer "oak aged"
     
  16. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,934) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Is oak more expensive than beechwood? :grin:
     
  17. miamichael2

    miamichael2 Initiate (106) Dec 2, 2009 Florida
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    Breweries can charge the same price for 4x16 as 6x12 and people will pay it. Less ounces sold for the same price, and the customer runs out of beer and needs to buy more after four beers rather than six. From a brewer’s perspective, it’s a no-brainer.
     
  18. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,934) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    If brewers do that they are leaving money on the table. People pay MORE for 4x16 vs 6x12.
     
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  19. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I'm still wanting to see actual examples of this. We have one report of a brewer selling the same.beer for more.money in the 4x16 format. We have 3 examples of the same beer being the same $/oz or cheaper as 4x16.

    Brewers that sell in 4x16 tend to have a higher $/oz than brewers that are selling in 6x12 format but I don't see any evidence of brewers generally switching to the format and increasing their $/oz.
     
  20. miamichael2

    miamichael2 Initiate (106) Dec 2, 2009 Florida
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    I haven’t seen this, but if you have then OK.

    I think the average consumer wouldn’t pick the more expensive 4pack sitting next to a cheaper 6pack. As such, a brewery is missing an opportunity to sell a 4pack for the same price as a 6pack of the same beer, since I think most people would take the 6er.
     
  21. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,215) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    It's fine if people want to focus on a specific single beer from one brewer in multiple formats or if they want to examine 16oz cans sold in a 12 or 6 pack format to widen the discussion, but on its own, I think this is lacking a sense of the big picture of what's going on in the market.

    Looking at a genuine store shelf, I saw this:

    6 packs of 12 oz beers priced from $10-$17 with an average price of $13.
    4 packs of 16 oz beers priced from $17-$25 with an average price of $21.

    In this case, the pricing of the 4 packs clearly started where the 6 packs left off. Generally speaking, the breweries in the 4 pack category were trendy or local breweries and the breweries in the 6 pack category were older breweries with wider distribution.

    So the question people should ask is: Why the clear split?

    For the sake of argument, let's say that none of the brewers are charging significantly more per ounce (or less per ounce) due to nefarious reasons. Let's pretend that everybody is only doing what they need to do to stay out of the red. Every brewer will have different business realities based on size, economies of scale, employee salaries, rent, contract work, insurance, debt, etc.

    What's missing from that shelf? Answer: bombers.

    Not long ago, the shelves would have been primarily mixed between bombers and 6 packs instead.

    Back then, it was not uncommon to see people on BeerAdvocate complaining that Ballast Point Sculpin was outrageously priced at $16 per 6 pack. At the same time, some people praised Lagunitas Hop Stoopid for being one of the best deals in "craft" at $5 per bomber. Both were IPAs from California breweries established in the '90s... and oddly enough, both were roughly the same price per ounce when you did the math. So what was the difference?

    The difference was that beer in bombers was typically priced at a higher price per ounce than beer in 6 packs. Hop Stoopid occupied the budget bomber space and Sculpin occupied the super-deluxe-premium 6 pack space. Consumers like to compare like to like, and in this case, they were doing so according to packaging. They didn't like the price of Sculpin because they were comparing it to other 6 packs and they liked the price of Hop Stoopid because they were comparing it to other bombers.

    The difference in format allowed brewers to price bombers at a higher cost per ounce because consumers in that time period initially accepted it. I was saying that we'll pretend that brewers weren't doing this for nefarious reasons, but rather, to stay afloat (by "pretending," I'm not claiming the opposite is true, I'm just trying to avoid the distraction of getting into an argument about fairness). That being the case, the bomber format allowed brewers to put product on the shelves... brewers who wouldn't be able to do this under the price per ounce that consumers were willing to pay for a 6 pack. It allowed brewers who had different business realities to enter the store.

    The problem is, consumers eventually started rejecting bombers. Perhaps this was due to a mix of price per ounce, price per serving, the impracticalities of the size, image, and store shelving... but regardless, the consumers lost their tolerance for it.

    So what is a startup brewery to do if they are operating on a different playing field than Brooklyn Brewery? Put out $18 sixers? Nah. Enter the rise of 4 pack 16 oz cans. I don't gamble, but I think it's a really safe bet that many of the brewers that currently use 16oz 4 packs exclusively would have been using bombers for those beers if they were packaging at an earlier point in time than the present.

    When it comes to price, the most important difference between a 12oz 6 pack and a 16oz 4 pack isn't the "extra" 8 ounces of the 6 pack, it's that they are physically different objects.

    Some have claimed that the beers in the 4 packs are in a different class than those of the 6 packs. It could be true, or it could be the inverse, or it could just be a matter of personal preference... but either way, that's exactly what a brewer who uses 4 packs wants people to think. They are asking for a higher price for their goods, whether deserved or not (if it's possible to make such a distinction), and they are packaging those goods in such a way that helps people accept it.

    It has a lot to do with image, but I don't mean that in a bad or judgmental way. A 30 pack of 12oz cans signifies a different thing to a consumer than a corked and caged 750. People here seem to hate it when you state stuff like that because they think you are saying that it's not about the beer, or that we are somehow thoughtless slaves to marketing. That's not the case though. Anyone can determine that they like the hypothetical beer in the 30 pack better than the one in the 750... or vice versa, but the difference in the packaging signifies something to the consumer, and to a certain extent, we expect the prices of those two things to be different.

    This was a criminally long post. Sorry for the indulgence. I'm not in the industry, so none of this comes from a place of inside information. I'm just a consumer who calls it like I see it.
     
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,681) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Chris, I enjoyed reading your thesis but you could have just stopped here since these 'stats' sum up the situation perfectly. When it comes to a "genuine store shelf" the beers in the four-pack/16 ounce format are indeed priced higher. Why so many beer consumers are willing to pay these 'inflated' prices is a mystery to me. It may be the 'marketing' factor that you made mention of?

    I will be buying the beers in the six-pack/12 ounce format. More four-pack beer for the folks who prefer 'marketing' I suppose?

    Cheers!
     
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  23. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I think you pretty well nailed it.
     
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  24. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I don't think its that mysterious. There is a strong marketing/image component, but there is also the fact that you can't obtain almost any of the beers (or even the styles) that come in the 4x16 in any other format. I think your question is similar to asking why saison or lambic consumers accept the cork and caged format when it obviously comes with a higher $/oz. We all have to make our own choices but if you are one of.the apparently numerous beer consumers who only wants to drink neipas you get 4x16 or nothing
     
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  25. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    @zid I also think one factor in the downfall of the bomber was that the same.beer was often available much cheaper in 6x12, for.instance Hop Stoopid was regularly in the same stores.by me at both $5/22oz or $12/72 oz. Pretty easy math there
     
  26. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Devotee (496) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Nailed it.
     
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  27. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,215) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    All that typing for nothing! :weary: :wink:
    Well, I think a preference for the beer is part of it too. :wink: In my case, I'd rather pay $20 for a 4 pack of 11oz bottles of Saison Dupont than any 4 pack of 16oz canned American saison... and I'd rather pay $5 for a 4 pack of König Pilsener than practically any 4 pack of American pilsner... but I'm VERY comfortable with my choices there. (yeah, yeah... I know your stance on "freshness" - I'll stop you right there :wink:)
     
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,681) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  29. Claude-Irishman

    Claude-Irishman Defender (673) Jun 4, 2015 New Jersey

    That is why they only give you a four pack. Aging definitely has costs, but letting beer sit in a barrel is not complicated. They should just charge more for a six than getting less beer- A four pack is disappointing.
     
  30. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,215) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    I forgot to add that predictably, people are having that Hop Stoopid reaction within the 4 pack 16oz space as well - by reacting to $10 4 packs as amazing deals.
     
  31. Tallerboy

    Tallerboy Initiate (152) Jun 17, 2017 New York
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    Die Shredhead!

    As a urban beer drinker with no car, the 4-packs are nice for putting in my messenger bag.
     
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  32. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,215) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Haha.
     
  33. Longhorn08

    Longhorn08 Aspirant (258) Feb 4, 2014 Texas
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    I’d rather buy 3-4 packs if 12 oz than 2-6 packs of 12 oz just to have a bit more variety.
     
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  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,546) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Ya I can understand the sentiment. I suspect the brewer is confidant they will sell much more beer as $20 4 packs than $30 6 packs (as an example, I don't know the price of jai alai). Probably owning largely to the varying price expectations that we have with various formats which @zid described so eloquently
     
  35. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,215) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    I think the word you meant to type was "long-windedly."
     
  36. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,824) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    I think most people are willing to pay the slight amount higher for the privilege, so that's a big explanation for the present market.
     
  37. ESHBG

    ESHBG Disciple (336) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Troegs does the six 12oz and four 16 oz of the same beer and the four 16oz are more expensive. This year was extra funny to me because there was a floor display of Nugget Nectar and the six bottles were next to the four cans and when you did the math quickly it was clear where the better deal was.
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,681) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Phase 2 = four-pack/16 ounce format.

     
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  39. ESHBG

    ESHBG Disciple (336) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Ha ha indeed.
     
  40. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,082) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    For some of the OG's in craft doing the 16oz can/4packs like Surly and The Alchemist it was mostly about differentiating their craft beer product from the macro market cans while also using the marketing/selling point about beer staying fresher in a can for their hoppy nectar. I really don't think many of the OG's that started it did so specifically for profit margins (which I'm certain is why most do it today). Heady was sold at $12 a 4pack which for a top NEIPA in the world is a great price for a DIPA 4 pack/16oz. (is it the same today?)
     
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