To Be “Shelted” Is Not To Pay A Premium Price

With respect, Lew in this case is wrong:

“Shelted” is a word Canadian blogger Alan “A Good Beer Blog” McLeod made up three years ago, and from the context, I’m guessing it means “being asked to pay a premium price for a beer imported by Shelton Brothers.” (Alan’s a bit obsessive on price/value in beer, and the Shelton line is not noted for being underpriced.) Or maybe something similar, but vaguely more crude; you can do the interpretation.

Sharing: I used “shelted” long before three years ago if only in my heart of hearts and, in particular, long before I knew that the particular bunch in question were so oddly comfortable in being abusive like any one of that certain sort of moron who have built a successful niche in a small market. That is not what drove the creation of the verb. It was created because when I started buying imported good beers in the States I saw that the prices did not always make sense. Here in Canada you can get Orval for under four bucks while it is pushing or over six south of the nearby border. See, I can buy that beer in at least three jurisdictions and be back for lunch. I enjoy a competitive marketplace of sorts. Lew calls that obsessive. Go figure. But it’s neither here nor there. To be shelted is far from what Lew supposes. It means to be stuck paying too much because someone has exclusive control of the importing or other aspects of supply. It is to recognize the monopolist, the tyrant of the marketplace. See, perhaps unlike that lawyer Shelton, I am actually a practicing lawyer who buys a lot of things – from buildings to pencils. I don’t consider lawyers arseholes unless they came to law school as arseholes. But I do understand how prices, markets, law and taxation interact. So I naturally hate the monopolist, even the tiny ones… and especially the ones who are arseholes, too.

Which get us to the context of the need to consider “shelt”-ing this week. From my point of view, if you want to disagree with someone or something, you create a body of knowledge that contradicts the assumptions you are taking on. You build respect by learning how to respect the work and opinions of others. By way of comparison, when you refer to “ill-informed and emotionally fraught bloggers” or otherwise take a position of complaining tantrum-esque weakness you don’t do anything but point out your own failings. And entitlement. I love to see bad lawyers like that across the table. Their arguments are your playground. See, in yesterday’s statement, Shelton Brothers is very careful to play the victim card. They are “ridiculously small guys” and “the little guys” who represent “cute little foreign brewers” when in fact they are market corner-ers who have exclusivity over a large number of brands who the needy beer nerds are trained to covet. Some of the brewers they represent are truly wonderful and worth every penny. Some are not. Yet all seem to demand premium price in the US which I just don’t see being asked of us in Canada – though admittedly the selection is not as rich up here. We don’t have three-tier. And we also seem not to have those exclusive importer deals as Shelton Brothers might enjoy – along with many others – which see unnaturally inflated prices on the shelves. We have less of that “I just got took” feeling after opening another overpriced beer though, more than admittedly, we have it from time to time.

Which gets to the last point. Lew is also quite right. The new New York tax interpretation will lead to paying only a few pennies more per glass. And as New York state is in need of revenue that is a good thing. Time to pay the piper. Being shelted, however, has nothing to do with that. Being shelted is being asked to take your hard earned money and give it to support an importer who thinks you the beer buyer and this the beer buying discourse are unworthy… a crock… a dupe… or whatever an arsehole would call it. So, I have no issue with the call for a boycott for those that feel that way but just don’t do it over this tax ruling, over just Shelton Brothers and don’t go overboard. Get smart and do whenever you feel you have been shelted – whether by this importer or anyone else. And don’t worry if someone might call it obsessive especially when only you care about your own wallet. It’ doesn’t take much. Sure, find the lambics they don’t represent and enjoy that often they are a buck less and as good or better. But also notice how that self proclaimed craft beer guru in your own neighbourhood inflates their price through a swing top bottle with specially embossed glass or through jacking prices two bucks for the joy of having three cents worth of a rare ingredient added. Find the alternatives to the loud proclaimers, the self-defined, the brand conscious. Make a habit of not being shelted. But not because of any tax ruling or because Shelton Brothers have justly protected their interests. You should do it to protect those interests of your own against anyone.

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