I’m a huge fan of craft beer, it really has completely changed my (civilised!) enjoyment of drinking. I’ve actually just returned from a month in California where the craft brew scene is really evolved - there are 500 breweries in that state alone and I had a great time tasting as many beers as a could (obviously dominated by the American IPAs but also lots of amber and red ales and some incredible porters). There were so many highlights I couldn’t single them out but anything from Lagunitas, Central Coast, 21st Amendment, Lost Coast, Drakes and of course Sierra Nevada are worth trying). I’m delighted to see Forest Hill pubs (particularly The Sylvan Post and The Signal) embracing people’s desire for better beer and the new Crafty Beer shop (as well as the potential new addition of Clapton Craft).
One thing I am interested in though is price and how people feel about the pricing of craft beer. I know there are lots of tax issues involved (although I believe micro-brews still benefit from tax exemptions) but I’m often disappointed in the expense of some craft beers. In California, I could walk into any supermarket or liquor store and be presented with fridges crammed full of different craft beers (typically they would have between 20-50 different ones on offer) and they were sold as 6- or 12-packs generally. Prices were typically around $10-14 (about £8-11) for 6 or $17-20 (£13-15) for 12. So about £1.25 per 330ml.
In the UK I typically find the standard 330ml craft beers are between £2-3 each and there is often either no bulk discount or only a very small discount. Obviously this equates to about £4-6 per pint which is basically pub price. For me I struggle to see how the price is justified. I would love to support smaller local shops and am happy to pay a small premium to do so (10-20%) but it’s hard to justify spending (say) £10 on 4 cans/bottles of craft beer when the larger supermarkets are starting to offer 4 for £5-6. Indeed, Tesco recently relaunched their craft offering and included a number of excellent US IPAs (the selection online included about 30 beers I think) and I was able to purchase 32 bottles/cans of various great beer ranging in alcohol % from 5 - 7.5% for £45. I’m comfortable spending up to £2 per 330ml but generally I’m not comfortable going above that, it doesn’t seem justified to me.
I’m interested in what other people feel about pricing and in particular what sort of bulk discounts shops like Crafty Beer offer (I recall from buying beers at Bossman Wines on Lordship Lane that I was never offered any bulk discounts and the pricing became prohibitive).