Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beer Prices

I just finished a tasting of Hair of the Dog's Adam. The beer is priced a bit steep at $5.00 a bottle, but it is 10% abv.

Today I went to BevMo and saw that Stone increased their prices this month, so that it now costs $13.99 for a six-pack of Oaked Bastard, and almost $10.00!!! for a 6-pack of their 4.4% abv Levitation.

Why should a 10% beer cost twice as much (or more) than a 7% beer? Well, for a brewery like Hair of the Dog, where all but one of their beers are high ABV, it takes increasingly more malt to get the required fermentables from their beer. Breweries in London around the turn of the century had offerings of both high and low gravity beer, and they used the same mash to produce 2 beers with the early runnings going toward the higher gravity beer, and the later runnings saved for lower gravity beer. Brewing in this way permits the brewer to extract the maximum utilization of the malts they use, but it requires 2 boil kettles or somewhere to store the wort and isn't used in the US by craft brewers I have heard of.

High gravity beer also takes longer to ferment and since Adam is conditioned in the bottle, it takes longer to cellar the beer before it is sold.

So the same facilitty can produce 3-4 times the amount of force carbonated beer at 4.4% than it can a 10%, bottle conditioned beer.

Where Stone can make a bottle of Levitation for 25 - 40 cents in under a week, but charges over a dollar at wholesale, a bottle of Adam probably costs well over a 80 cents a bottle and requires several weeks before it can be distributed and probably sells for $2.00 at wholesale.

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