The other day, when I learnt about a new beer from a very famous British brewery, I started thinking, once again, about the concepts of value and price/quality. 2D2dspuma beat me to the punch, and in great manner, but I still wanted to talk about it but from a slightly different perspective.
The beer in question has been aged 4 years in whisky casks. Though 4 years wouldn't have raised any eyebrows in the past, nowadays it is something very much out of the ordinary (with the probable exception of some Lambics), and this alone is enough to make this beer quite interesting, at least on paper. Shame about the price, though; roughly, the equivalent of 750CZK for a 330ml bottle. Pfff!
As I've already said several times, I've got no issue with brewers pricing their product in any way they see fit. It's their business decision and nobody is under any obligation to buy that product. That's why I also believe that it is unfair to criticise a beer for its price if you haven't drunk it yet. But, it is still possible to evaluate, in a fair and reasonable way, the price/quality relationship this beer offers without the need of buying anything.
In these times, when the disposable income of many of us is not what it used to be, we become (or should become) more careful with the money we spend on luxury goods. We understand that every money that we spend on one is money we will not have for something else. And this is exactly the principle I want to use. What else can I buy for the price of this particular beer?
Give or take a coin, today in Prague I could buy the following beers, for example:
- 4 750ml bottles of stuff from De Ranke, Dupont, Chouffe or other similar Belgians
- 6 500ml bottles of Fuller's Vintage Ale
- 13 500ml bottles of Schlenkerla Urbock or Eiche, o an assortment of German bocks
- 13 500ml bottles of Gypsy Porter
- 2-3 cases of 20 500ml bottles of almost any Czech regional beer, plus a few loose bottles on top
- a combination of all the above
I have enough reason to believe that this very special beer is very good, but I can't be certain of that until I drink it. The beers I mention above win because I know all of them, I've liked them and I will like them again. There's no competition possible.
Each person measures the value of purchased goods in a different way. To some, the very opportunity of experiencing a beer that has been aged 4 years in whisky casks is more than enough to justify the price. Fair enough. Not me, though.
However good this can turn out to be, it will be only one experience and 750CZK on that single bottle of beer, that single sensory experience is not the most sensible thing to do, not when I could spend that money (or a lot less, actually) on multiple experiences that can be enjoyed for a longer time, knowing full well that I will end up happy and satisfied with each.
Just like 2D2dspuma were saying at the end of their post, there isn't a more realistic formula to assess value.
PS: The beer I talk about is BrewDog's Tokio Rising Sun. It's not my intention to critisise the beer, the brewery or their pricing policies. It was used just as an example, and it can applied to any expensive beer available today.