Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WHY I’M NOT BUYING A BOTTLE OF CONSECRETION

(photo courtesy of The Drunken Polack)

Look, I’m all for beer advocacy and elevating the profile of beer by showing “respect”. I think I show at least a little respect for my favorite beverage on this blog four times a week. I also don’t have too much of a personal problem with disposable income, at least in the sense of being able to buy the beers I want to buy, when I want to buy them. One of the reasons I got more into beer than, say, wine, was the price tag. The proverbial bang for the buck from a bottle of Belgian ale, for instance, vs. a bottle of really great wine, is so much higher, and so much more satisfying – to say nothing of a $3.99 22-ounce Lagunitas beer, for instance. It wasn’t because it was a “workingman’s beverage”, no sir – I think properly-brewed, experimental or just plain great beer deserves to be worshipped just the way any other gastronomic delight is.

I keep eyeballing bottles of RUSSIAN RIVER CONSECRETION in the San Francisco Bay Area’s better beer stores, and I think it’s finally a bridge too far. No doubt it’s delicious – but it’s also TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS. $24 for a world-class, sour Belgian-style ale that is probably out of this world – and I’m not buying it. Why should I, when I can buy 2 or 3 different 22-ounce beers that’ll blow me away for the same price or less? It needs to be "weighted" appropriately; for instance, an expensive steak, which provides sustenance and nourishment, might be worth that price. A beer is not, to my way of thinking.

You know I love Russian River stuff as much as the next fella – more even – but I just can’t sanction that level of spending on a drink. Note that I’m not saying “that level of pricing” – if the market’s there for CONSECRETION, then everybody wins (except me, I guess). But the $20 mark is a psychological barrier that I’m just not ready to breach for any drink of any kind. I went to Ledger’s Liquors in Berkeley the other day and picked up some amazing-looking beers, ranging in price for $3.99 to $14.99, among them selections from Telegraph Brewing, The Bruery, Lost Abbey, and yes, even RUSSIAN RIVER DAMNATION, BATCH 23 – which is nearly $10 less in price than CONSECRETION, at least at this location. I can deal with that, but not with “a quarter of a hundred dollars”.

Maybe it's still just an income thing. I'd like to know what it feels like to easily drop this kind of money for a beer without much thought. What do you think about the escalation going on here? Are you ready to throw down $24 for a beer like this, and if so, why?

16 comments:

Rational Realist said...

The $15 price tag is my Mendoza line. I have a Consecration reserved at $22, but have yet to buy it. Consecration is the third beer I've seen or heard of at more than $20 a bottle in the past few weeks. The other two are The Lost Abbey's Angel's Flight at $29 and The Bruery is reserving three special releases - three different barrel aged beers - at $27.50 per bottle. It is hard to imagine a Russian River, The Lost Abbey or The Bruery beer tasting three times better than a regular or seasonal offering from these brewers.

Aaron Goldfarb said...

$15 is also my Mendoza line. I dropped $25 on Brooklyn Black Ops but that was (supposed to be) limited and I'm a huge sucker for bourbon barreled stouts. At least it was stupendous.

But I'm with you...I'd rather pick up two to three bombers of stuff I've never had than take a flyer on a single $25. I like beer (over bourbon or Scotch which I also love) because I CAN have dozens of different beers per week without breaking the bank, while that would be impossible for other things.

Plus, when I've stood in lines (or had people stand in lines for me) to get limited stuff like Darkness or Kate the Great or Captain Lawrence releases, and even those limited bottlings only ring in at $12-$15, yeah, $25 seems a little high.

Mike said...

Consecration can be found for $20 at many places, including K & L. If you want to talk ripoff, go get the just released Lost Abbey Brandy Angel's Share 750 ml bottle that is being priced at about $32. Hopefully the store will be kind enough to let you know that Lost Abbey released the brew before it was ready to be consumed and it needs to be stored one to two months at room temperature to allow the carbonation to kick in.

Anonymous said...

I agree that $15 is a hard line to cross on a domestic craft beer, whether it's a six pack or a 22 oz or 750 mL bottle. I will pay more for rare imports than for domestics, though. Some of the rare Cantillon beers go for $28 plus shipping. The ones I've tasted have been well worth the money.

mrb said...

I totally hear you but I'd like to point out that a 750ml bottle of beer is hardly "one beer." Even though it's only 100ml than a 22oz bomber, it's still a few beers, worthy of splitting with a friend. Then it's $12 each, which doesn't sting quite so bad. Regardless, there aren't enough bottles of this around to accuse the RR folks of price gouging, and it's certainly a lengthy, expensive process that deserves monetary rewards. Forget about the money, and go for it. A few bucks ain't gonna make a difference and you may miss out on something you love because of a "Mendoza Line" that doesn't apply.

Jeff H said...

I agree, Jay, but unfortunately Consecration is really, really good! Bender's had it on tap when The Hi-Nobles played there this past Saturday at $7 for a tall glass (11-12 oz?). I've also drunk it at Toronado, and at the RR brewery. So, yeah, I also balk at paying more than $20 for a bottle of beer--really, $12 or $15 is closer to my barrier--and the trend toward higher pricing is a big problem. Though I guess I can still be suckered into paying a couple dollars more for a smaller glass at a bar!

Anonymous said...

I can pay and will pay that amount for one of a kind good stuff. I have a bottle of Sam Adams Utopia waiting for my bday as proof that I'm willing to cross any line.

good scotch can cost over a $100 a bottle. a good rum is easily $50+. and wine can easily run to insane prices for small runs of stellar product. high end eateries can easily run over $100 a plate, sometimes may times that.

Beer is one of my hobbies, so I'm not going to limit myself by some artificial limit. Why short change my hobby? Why define myself by what I refuse to do?

I'm not going to buy the stuff by the case. but I've had it on tap twice and was impressed enough that I picked up a bottle last week. it went amazingly well with a pork belly dinner I made last weekend.

Chris said...

I would rather buy three or four bottles and have a couple dollars left over than buy a single bottle for $24. It is a utility thing for me. I will get more joy spread over a few days from those $5 to $10 bottles. Others obviously feel otherwise, and that is perfectly fine.

Scott-TheBrewClub said...

I think it all depends. If I've heard nothing but good things about a beer, then I would consider it for $20 or $25 - why not. That said, it wouldn't be a common practice for me!

OTOH, what if it were $35, or even $95 because it was a super-duper beer? I think there is a line for everyone at some point.

Jeff H said...

I just had another thought on this. I don't know the size of the glasses Johnny was selling for $7 at Bender's on Saturday. Let's say they were only 9 oz (and I think they were probably more like 10, 11, or 12 oz). Then, for $21, I could drink 27 oz at the bar. The $24 bottle is, what, 25 oz? So, it's more expensive to buy it at the store than the bar! That seems kind of crazy. Compare that the standard equation of $9-10 buying two pints (32 oz) of standard good beer at a bar, or a six-pack (72 oz) of the same beer at the store.

BJR said...

Jeff H makes a good point. This is the same reason that I didn't buy a bottle of Red Poppy. After paying 6 bucks for a glass (8-10 oz?)at O'Brien's, $15 for a bottle (~12oz) seemed absurd.

As far as Consecration goes, if you're willing to make the drive to Santa Rosa (or will be in the area for whatever reason), Bottle Barn had bottles for less than a fifth of a hundred dollars.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to RR to jump in the 'expensive bottle' game & actually come out the other end looking great. Consecration mops the floor with anything Lost Abbey, The Bruery or Telegraph are doing. It's that good. I understand the hesitation but man this beer is worth it.

-scott

daniel said...

this is still on tap at Benders and only $6 during happy hour. I thought good, but too much cherry for my tastes, would not have more than one glass...

Shea said...

I just don't think it's that expensive compared to wine. Plus, if anyone is serious about restaurants pairing beer with food rather than wine, they need higher prices and better markups. And ya, Consecration is fantastic - not to mention Beatification, Temptation and Sanctification! All of which are even more expensive!

Also, I think Angel's Share is worth it if you are patient enough to cellar it for at least a year, and better 2-4.

Brian Yaeger said...

Hey Jay. Always love seeing when people aren't afraid to speak out about this issue. I've absolutely crossed the $20 line before, and I'll do it again ONLY when it's uber rare and I KNOW it's a beer that's gonna knock my socks off. If a beer is $5, not only can you get 4 of them, but odds are it's not only 1/4 as good.

At the Santa Rosa Beerfest, RR was actually pouring samples of Consecration! But I opted for Little White Lie b/c I'd never had it (and it was hot out).

PS: The beer geek story should be in the Aug. issue.

Cheers

Smurfe said...

I realize this is an old post but gonna add my thoughts. People are applauding that you are speaking out on an "issue". I don't understand what is an "issue". Someone is selling a good product at the price they want. Who are we to demand what a person sells their product for? If you don't want to pay the price, simply don't buy it. Don't bitch about the price.

Beer is a luxury not a necessity. If you want a well brewed cheap beer, buy Budweiser. Don't bitch and moan about someones hand crafted product that you want just because they don't have it priced at a level that suits you. We can all thank Wal Mart for this thought mentality in this country.