Greg raised a hoary old topic on his “Beer, Beats & Bites” blog last evening, and it took no time at all for our favourite beer curmudgeon, Alan, to chime in with his thoughts. (Our second favourite beer crank – that would be yours truly – took a little longer to add his thoughts.) And now, for perhaps the last time, although in all likelihood not, I’d like to address the issue of value in beer.
Greg says that he spent $25 for a 375 mL bottle of Cantillon Zwanze at beerbistro, and while he thinks he received full value for his dollars, wonders what others think. He also notes that he believes the amount to be the most he’s ever spent on a beer.
As someone who has both tastes Zwanze and spent considerably more on beer, I concur with Greg that he did get his money’s worth. Moreover, I’d suggest there are innumerable things we spend money on daily that both cost as much or more and furnish less pleasure, to wit:
- I regularly spend over $50 to get a taxi to the airport, more than double what Greg spent on his beer. I ordinarily do this to squeeze a few minutes more sleep out of my morning, but do I derive any particular enjoyment from it? No.
- Last weekend, before a Toronto FC match, my wife and I dropped $56.89 (after tax but before tip) for a mediocre-bordering-on-bad snack and a couple of most ordinary drinks. That could easily have been a much more enjoyable street vendor sausage and a bottle of Zwanze each.
- Our half-bottle of Möet enjoyed at the end of the night in our hotel room in Montréal cost $45. It was right for the time, but the exact same quantity as was contained in the Zwanze bottle Greg purchased at a bit more than half the price.
- Also in Montréal, four very mediocre drinks at the bar of Restaurant S cost us in excess of $50. (I know, why didn’t we leave after the first mediocre drink? I have only myself and the principle that a body at rest tends to remain at rest to blame.)
- In downtown Toronto, at an average pub, I can probably buy three pints of beer for the cost of Greg’s Zwanze and maybe even have a little change left over. And if I’m in a social and thirsty mood, I’ll probably derive the same degree of pleasure from them. But I can pretty much guarantee that they will not have the same flavour impact as the Cantillon.
I could go on, but I won’t. My point is that valuing beer on the basis of it being “beer” is both wrong and disrespectful to the brewer’s craft. There is no “absolute price” a beer should be, only its worth relative to all the other expenses we face in life.