There have been several new beer bars in my area, something that would be cause for much dancing and carrying-on for most of you. But at the risk of being predictable, I frown upon these new havens of beer, and for a few good reasons. So set aside your thoughts and feelings (good or bad), and journey with me as I tell you why that latest craft beer bar could very well destroy the thing you love. Beer.
Craft beer already has an air about it of pretentiousness. "What's wrong with the beer I drink now? It was good enough for dad so it's good enough for me." Yes, us with our colored malts and hoping rates you can taste have moved in and just destroyed what the average person describes as "beer". And this average person already has a hard enough time dealing with the concept of triple-hopping, so why would we want to turn this person so far away from real beer with our Beer Pedestal that is a craft beer bar? One bar close to my house doesn't even use the widely-accepted and easily recognized unit of measure known as the Ounce. On their board they use Centiliters - not pints, not ounces, but centiliters. They might as well draw some ironic facial hair on their beer board with that one. Put the board in a vest and buy it a fixed-gear bike. Nothing will separate the common man faster than using a language that is foreign to them in their home town. So what's the point? Well I think that it a great way to be able to over-charge for beers and chalk it up to the experience. You, the beer drinker, assume that 30 cl must equal a pint, right? I mean, most normal bars use that language, and most craft beer makers have tried to market their beers by using the word "pint". Little do you know that 30 cl is about 10 ounces. This is a fact only revealed to you after you get your tiny glass of local beer that you paid $6 for.
Knowledge is important to spread our little craft. But at what cost? I recently got in a discussion with a friend of mine over the topic of beer cost, and how much of that cost goes to off-setting the training of beer servers who know what they are talking about. This is probably the worst excuse for over-charging I have ever heard. Listen, if you want to start a business that caters to knowledgeable folks as well as people who are just learning about something - anything - then it is on you to train your staff properly. Who pays for it? The same one who reaps the rewards - you do. You are the one who is teaching new customers about craft beer. You are the one who will pour them flights of beers in different glasses. You are the one who will teach a new customer so much about beer that they will come back to your place because you have the info they need. THIS is the payoff for you. Loyal customers. Returning customers. Customers who bring their friends. What is wrong is charging me more money because you decided to have some folks trained. It's rude, and kinda snobby - which is what we are trying to avoid here, right?
Now, having been in the retail world for almost 15 years, I know a thing or two about price points. I understand supply and demand. And I get everything about price point leaders. But what I don't get is charging more for a beer that is made locally than a beer that is made in Belgium. I had a local beer at a place for $4 for 8 oz. Not even a full beer, and I paid almost full beer price. Why? Because that establishment decided that was the price point they wanted to serve at. They felt they had to make up for the lower beer prices on their imports by gouging me on the local stuff. The same goes for the bar that refuses to use ounces. Don't you dare overcharge me simply because your server knows how to pour a proper beer. That is what I expect. That is your business! You don't pay extra for an oil change simply because the person knows how to change your oil - because that is what they are paid to do in the first place! So why pay more because someone knows how to put beer into a glass? If these places decide that the only way they will make money is by pricing beer at what the market will sustain, then perhaps they should re-examine their business plan.
These all point to a dangerous rise in snobbery within the world of craft beer. Isn't this what we accuse the wine field of? Isn't this why craft beer even exists - because it is the true common mans drink? Why are we wrapping ourselves in these blankets of "I-drink-better-beer-than-you" when it comes to buying our beer? What we are doing is driving people away from these places in the long-term - people who want to learn and who want to drink good beer. As Craft Beer Loyalists, we should be promoting good beer at a good price, and as suppliers of Craft Beer, bar owners should be doing the same.
And why are we satisfied with paying these outrageous prices for kegs of beer that bars sell for over 300% profit on? It really is enough to drive me out of the bars, and it has. I no longer go to these bars I have loosely mentioned because I value my dollar. I want to get the most from it, and if I can lay that buck down amongst it's friends and get a pint of beer without having to do any guesswork, then that is the bar for me. Is it the same for you?
Do you have any beer bars like those described above around your area? Been to any like these? Tell me I'm off-base here.
P.S. - I realize I made this sound like all beer bars are as shady as the ones above, and that is not the case at all. So please don't think I am hating on all of them. Just ones that price gouge.