Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Premium Prices




I think it was Woolpack Dave that suggested that cask is a premium, hand crafted product
- or words to that effect - and as such should command a premium price. I am pretty sure it was Curmudgeon that suggested to Dave that until we always have premium quality, expecting the punter to pay top dollar was being a bit previous. Cask at its best is brilliant and at its worst, is bloody awful. Too often it is a losing ticket in a lottery.

When we arrived back in E1 from Brussels I fancied a good old British pint to refresh me. The pub chosen for once will not be named as I am just illustrating a point. In a highly rated GBG pub, this is the pint I was served. Inviting isn't it? Flat as a pancake and warm. If you look at it though, you'll see it is clear as a bell and it certainly didn't taste off, but it was pretty hard to drink. Something had happened to the beer between brewery and pub I'd say. This was a well known beer from a respected brewery. I know they don't send out beer that won't condition.

Until a pub can guarantee consistency, charging over the odds for cask just isn't on. If your beer is always good - and it can be if you know your stuff - go ahead and charge a premium. The customer will feel less cheated than paying "normal" prices for a poor pint.

Swirling by E, drunken babble by office workers.

22 comments:

Tyson said...

The Stephen Spielberg of Beer Bloggers, eh? Of course you realise that unless this post gains 70 comments, it will be judged a failure:) I actually wouldn't be surprised if the smoking discussion becomes your first 100+ post

Tandleman said...

I haven't been counting others, but that subject has a load of nutters commenting. Come to think of it...... No don't go there! (-;

"Eddie Rowles" said...

The Dispensary? I know it's ELAC's PotY but some local members seem to think it's not up to much.

And next time you're passing through London, let me know.

I live in E6 but often drink in the lower Es (E2 and E3 if you can tear yourself away from E1).

Anonymous said...

Great stuff.Do you remember the days when Biffo got 70 comments on his blog? Now it's just his mate from round the corner,his granny and the odd Mexican student.I reckon you would only have to fart to get 70 comments you're that big now.

Captain Jack

Cooking Lager said...

Happy to add numero 5, but what is wrong with a good cheap pint? If beer is a staple of life, liquid bread and all that, a good pint ought to be cheap and enjoyed by all. Expensive pubs are not proper pubs, any thing exclusive cannot be a proper pub. A proper pub is inclusive to all.

jesusjohn said...

'If your beer is always good - and it can be if you know your stuff - go ahead and charge a premium.'

Bang on - it's got to be up to individual pubs to say 'yes - our beer is that good and we deserve a proper margin on it.'

And if it is that good, it'll deserve it, too.

Curmudgeon said...

Maybe less so now, but in the days when most pubs were tied there was often an inverse relationship between price and beer quality. The cheaper brewers produced better beer, and within tied estates the cheaper pubs were often the best.

Tommy N said...

It’s about balance. If a publican thinks his beer is good he should charge a premium for it. Charge too much and you loose the custom that lead to good turnover and the good beer.

Tyson said...

Captain Jack

I don't know about 70 comments, but his fart would probably clear 70 people out of a room.

Tandles

Just be grateful you didn't start a post about the right to bear arms...

Laurent Mousson said...

Just for the record : I'm opposed to the right to arm bears. #o)

As to the main issue, well, depends what one considers a premium product. In the world of beer, that appears to be, more often than not, just crap mass-market lager whose brand is supported by a few dozen million Euros, £££ or whatever in marketing...

Paul Garrard said...

Variation in quality is always frustrating to the ale fan. It certainly is one of the reasons why keg sells in such quantities. It is a worry that some pubs still don't fully understand the quality thing. High prices can only be commanded by consistent quality.

Rob said...

Looks to me like ether:
1: The cask was racked with beer already very bright, meaning there was a lack of yeast in the cask, or:

2: the a combination of bright beer in the cask and the cask being put on too early, not allowing any condition to form even if it had the potential to.

Tandleman said...

Rob - Entirely possible but also doubtful for theory one, but not out of the question. This wasn't some dodgy micro. Theory two - also possible.

Theory three? It was over vented, kept too warm and possibly too long, under less than optimum conditions.

Whatever, it should not have been put on sale. It wasn't remotely right and any cellarman / bar manager worth his salt would have known that.

RedNev said...

I don't generally find a relationship between beer price and beer quality. Surely it's a fair price, not a high one, we should be hoping for. For once, I find myself agreeing with Cooking Lager.

Tandleman said...

I agree, but the fair price may well mean that it reflects the time and effort going into ensuring perfection every time. It may in fact cost a little more to return to what Woolpack Dave said.

RedNev said...

Yes, I see the logic of your point, but then I think: good beer > more sales > increased profits overall > lower profit margins possible per unit > lower prices. This thought is supported by the fact that the two pubs in Southport that are busy and turn over the largest range of ales are not the dearest in town.

Woolpack Dave said...

I can't disagree with you there Tandleman.

Getting pricing and quality right is an interesting subject. Every pub has its own set of challenges. Getting quality and price right to obtain the volume benefit criticality point can be very difficult indeed. Once obtained success can be ensured. The vicious circle that RedNev rightly indicates can also spiral negatively in a way that even the most skilful can find impossible to break.

RedNev said...

I didn't see it as a vicious circle but more an example of economies of scale, although I do understand the point you're making, Dave.

The Baltic Fleet brew pub has recently received well-publicised flak from Liverpool CAMRA for raising its prices significantly, but still only to a level you'd find in many other pubs in the city centre. The pub's explanation was they'd kept the prices too low and had to catch up to be viable.

I suppose that would qualify as an example of what you describe as trying to break out of a vicious circle, and also an example of the reaction you can get.

CAMRA even suggested that the increase should be transferred to the lager instead. Even I, not a lager drinker, was amazed at the sheer cheek of expecting lager drinkers to subsidise cask beer. It's that kind of attitude that gives CAMRA a bad name.

Plus, Cooking Lager would be horrified!

Cooking Lager said...

More unsurprised than horrified RedNev. Whadya expect from the beardie weirdie social inadequates?Cooking Lager is a rip off in pubs anyway. If I have to go in one, I'm usually on whatever's cheap, and that's usually cask. The first gulp might make you wince, but you get used to it.

Jeffrey said...

This argument is nonsensical. The pubs that are trusted by the customers can command a premium price, because of that trust. Those that aren't, can't. It's simple.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Too warm, not enough co2 absorbed into the beer. Probably got vented off.

I had a pint last night called "From Plant to Pint" that was amazing. Wet Hopped Pale Ale with quite a variety of hops. Served cask conditioned with a breather. It was outa fucking sight, I'm tellin' ya! I think you would have fainted Herr'man upon drinking it.

Here's a picture of it:http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z74/Whorst/planttopint.jpg

Tandleman said...

Jeffrey. I think that's what I was saying, though I didn't use the word "trust".

Which aspect of the discussion do you find nonsensical as a matter of interest?