Wired’s Good Summary Of Price Inputs Got Me Thinking

It’s just a short article in Wired but it provides a good summary of where we are with the hop and barley price jumps and gets me thinking about that other elephant in the room – value:

“My jaw hit the floor when I saw the price,” Ansari says. And next year, he’ll have to reformulate his brown ale Bender beer, a blend he described as a “flagship” flavor requiring the “Willamette” hop from the Pacific Northwest. “We were informed by our supplier that next year we can’t get that hop. It’s just gone,” Ansari said. “We’re going to have to make changes. Everybody,” he says, “is crossing their fingers there is going to be good hop crop.”

I haven’t got my copy of the May Beer Advocate magazine yet but I understand this issue has an article on prices (as Andy discussed in March) that takes some bars to task for the degree of price increase they are asking customers to bear. The Alstrom lads have been addressing the question of price and value fairly consistency with their recent articles on the monks of Westvleteren wanting the inflated reselling of their beers to stop as well as their raising of the issue of paying for beer fest beers.

As you know, I’ve been thinking about it, too, but even more so this weekend as I realize how much of the bitterness in those low-priced, thirst-quenching Sam Adams Summer Ales over the BBQ is from those wee grains of paradise – and how I don’t mind at all. The Wired article mentions how 21st Amendment brews a Watermelon Wheat with virtually no hops. It will be interesting to watch how this crisis becomes for some a reason to unreasonably soak and how for others it will be an opportunity to innovate. Do you plan to reward the innovators with your support?


One thought on “Wired’s Good Summary Of Price Inputs Got Me Thinking”

  1. [Original comments…]

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    BILLY BROAS – MAY 11, 2008 4:34 PM
    It’s tough to say how long the price inflation is going to last. As the article mentioned there should be some relief as farmers plant more hops, but as the prices of other commodities rise that compete for the same land (e.g. corn) it could mean a long-term price shift for hops.

    I tend to look for a silver lining and believe (as I think you do Alan) that this is an opportunity to innovate. Smart brewers will seek out new techniques and ingredients, and we may even see the birth of new styles – which I welcome with open arms. If the price of hops do come down and we can once again brew our hop-crazy IPAs then we’ll be blessed with a new basket of variety. Innovate on brewers!

    ALAN – MAY 11, 2008 9:39 PM
    This may also be a time when it will be wise to aim to the customer’s price point instead of blandly saying get used to it. Innovations that maintain your base are also a great way to build loyalty, a much more important sort of relationship compared to that of fan and celebrity.

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