In a changing marketplace, where beer sales, especially from big brewers, are down, it’s this article at NPR that helps explain (for me) why there is a wrangling over what “craft beer” means.
It’s about the money, of course. I should’ve seen that coming but alas, I was fooled (and foolish) thinking that these terms were about some insistence that one person or brewery is cooler than another. There’s even an attempt to ‘sell’ it like that in the NPR article; implying that the essence of craft brewing is being ‘watered down’.
But this is entirely about money and which breweries of which size need representation from an organization like the Craft Beer Alliance, and which probably need to exist on their own merits now, Sam Adams and Widmer chief amongst them. Of course, it does lead me to the question: who supports the ‘midrange’ brewers?
But maybe the better question is: do those brewers really need support? Clearly their business model is working. What more do they need from an organization that is supposedly all about the small businesses?
It does seem like there is a point where you can let go of what you had, because what you’ve got is so much better.
I’ve got beer as an expense on my monthly budget-othewise god only knows how much I’d blow- and I’ve always felt that beer in the grocery store was far more expensive than it really ought to be.
There’s a mini-rant at the New School blog about this topic and the author asks people to chime in with reasons why beer is so expensive–and of course, nobody really has any clue. There’s some nonsense about ‘that’s what the consumer will pay’ but you know what? I don’t set prices for beer. Someone else does and there’s very few ways for me to know if I’m being screwed or not. What I can do is not buy that beer, because it’s too expensive and homebrew. However, that’s not an option for most people. They pay what the store tells them to: If they could get it cheaper elsewhere, of course they would do that. Consumers have a lot less power, I think, then most economists try to foist on us.
It’s suggested that Oregon’s distribution system for beer (which is examined, also at the New School blog, here) may be an accomplice in the high prices. I wouldn’t doubt it, especially as that system becomes more tightly controlled by one or maybe two corporations.
I’m happy to pay what’s fair but how do we measure what’s fair? How do I know what’s fair? I have to confess, I don’t know enough about the industry to say, all I can do is look at what information is available and say: something seems wrong about this.