There are plenty of folks around, though they'll likely deny it, that see expensive beer as a good thing for a number of reasons. There are aspiring brewers that wish to sell the fruits of their labour at top dollar; there are those that begrudge the cost, or feel superior drinking beer that others can't afford, especially if it is rare and has come from afar (rarity and distance makes for much better beer - a little known factoid.) I could go on, but you get the picture.
In Belgium recently I discovered that one of my favourite styles, gueuze and its cousin lambic are pretty well a snob's dream in Belgium. They are bloody expensive and to give you the picture, think around three times the cost of an Orval. Now of course you could argue that being so rare, so delicate and so difficult to produce, that this is the inevitable outcome. But of course, until relatively recently, that rarity wasn't reflected in the price. There are a few ways to look at this. One is that small artisanal brewers are at last getting just reward for their efforts, or, that the goose that laid the golden egg is being slowly killed, or perhaps, more benignly, are being elevated to a very expensive treat.
Speaking to Tim Flynn who runs the redoubtable New Oxford in Salford while at the Bruges Beer Festival, reveals that he can put almost no mark up on these beers, as they so expensive to buy in the first place, but he offers them for additional choice. Now I didn't get the chance to check out supermarket prices in Belgium and they may well be reasonable, but it seems I won't be drinking very much gueuze/lambic in pubs, as to my mind you need several to fully get you in the zone, so that you can really appreciate the style. That would be a dear do.
Maybe you don't find this expensive beer thing worrying at all? Is gueuze and lambic a special case?
My sour beer needs were met by Rodenbach at normal cost and I feasted on gueuze at the Bruges Beer Fest.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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