Booze Banter

Craft Beer Poll! The Founders CBS Dilemma: Has Limited Release Craft Beer Pricing Gotten Out Of Hand?

While the Craft Beer industry has been experiencing steady and consistent growth over the past several years (click here for a list of Craft Brewing Statistics from the Brewers Association), there has been one very significant downside to all of this growth: Craft Brewers can’t keep up with demand. In order to keep their local markets happy, many craft brewers have had to scale back distribution (much to the chagrin of many a Craft Beer lover). Here are just a few examples:

This past Saturday afternoon, while perusing my Twitter feed, I noticed that a South Philly Craft Beer “boutique” called Brew (they are owned by the people that brought us the South Philadelphia Tap Room) would be selling the Founders CBS at 11AM on October 10th. Here’s the exact Tweet:

They want $28 for a bottle of beer??? Since I had no idea how big the bottle would be, I did a quick search on the interwebz and found out that the Founders CBS will be distributed in 750ml bottles (25.3 fluid ounces). Assuming a 12 ounce pour, that works out to just under $14 per serving. What I also found out during my little bit of research was that people were auctioning off bottles of the CBS on eBay. Here’s a screenshot of what I stumbled upon:

I wasn’t sure how to feel about all of this. At first I thought that Founders was just trying to capitalize on all of the hype surrounding this beer (is it me, or does it feel like there’s a new “Holy Grail” beer being released every week?), but after checking out there website (click here to read their press release from October 6th), it turns out that they too are having a hard time meeting the demand for their product, and once their beer leaves the brewery, they have no control over the pricing.

Rather than wrestle with this issue on my own, I thought that I would ask you, our loyal readers, what you think about the rapidly escalating prices of Craft Beer. Please take a minute to vote. Here’s the poll…

22 replies »

  1. At first I thought it was crazy (I’ll state for certain that I wouldn’t pay that money for a beer), but then I started thinking about the costs. You need to buy the barrels. You need less barley than if you were going to make a whisky, but you need chocolate, coffee, and hops. You need a warehouse to age it (although briefly I’m sure). Anyway, my point is, you’re buying a 750 mL bottle of alcoholic beverage that has been aged in barrels. The costs to produce are going to approach the costs to produce a whisky, minus distillation and you would need much less warehouse space because of reduced aging time. So, maybe, just maybe, the cost isn’t outrageous. However, it’s a bad deal because a bottle of whisky is 10 drinks, whereas this bottle of beer is 2.


    • From what I’ve seen across the web, the list price for this beer is around $18. Considering that I paid about $10 for a pour of the KBS, then the list price is quite reasonable. And as you said, it’s expensive to make a quality product. I’ve had about three or four Founders beers so far, and they definitely make a great beer. $28 just seems a bit high to me.

      I popped into a craft beer shop near my office and they sold their shipment of CBS last week via a lottery. They’re kind of a pricey little shop, but given their size, they have an astounding selection of beers, plus, they let you buy a mixed six. For a price of course.


  2. One other argument is that you have to drink it all once opened. There is no corking the bottle to enjoy later. Once opened it is beyond saving and must be drank. As for whiskey, you can put the cork or cap back on and use it again and again. No refrigeration needed. For that reason it does seem a little spendy, however I have spent up to $70 on a beer before. My bottle of Bourbon County Stout Very Rare is aging quite nicely. So after all my machinations,if I could find one, I would definitely pay $28 bucks for it. Or I could just go visit my sister in Michigan and have some in their tap room for $5. Either way the cost is high! 😉


    • Is this THE Don??? What a pleasant surprise!

      I guess the question is, can you really put a price on a high quality AND rare product? I think it all comes down to what you’re willing to spend your money on. I have a friend that buys wine at auction and then pays for storage at a temperature controlled warehouse. On the flipside, he bought life jackets for his boat at Goodwill.

      I have no problem spending money on a quality product, so if someone wants to split a bottle with me, I will gladly fork over the $14. 🙂


      • I’ll split a bottle with you. Perhaps, the CBS can be included as a part of our barrel-aged beer night. Of course, if this tastes like monkey-cino, I will be none too happy.


        • If you can track a bottle down, I will gladly fork over half of the cost. This stuff is selling out super fast! I called Total Wine. If and when it finally arrives, they are only expecting to get a case.


  3. Considering I live in massive tax and healthcare land 28 bucks doesn’t sound too bad for 750ml of good quality stuff (and don’t get me started on Denmark prices, the place is awesome, but beer is so very expensive there), the resale market is taking the piss though. When something in super limited I hate it when people buy a huge batch and resell a bunch. Saw a 150 bottle test release once, I bought two bottles so I could try it, another guy bought 12! It just seems greedy to me. Good beer should be available to as many people as possible, not bought to sell at eye popping costs.


  4. I am not certain that a comparison of whiskey to beer is quite appropriate. Whiskey stops aging after it is removed from the barrel…beer does not. It will either improve or its flavors will deteriorate over time depending on the type of beer and how it was bottled. That makes beer more akin to wine, as certain styles are often better young where as others are meant to age for decades in the bottle. I’ve personally never paid that much for a bottle but I would consider it if it was something I really desired and valued or planned to trade for another beer.


    • Bruce, you’re right! Wine is the better analogy, and certainly no one would raise their eyebrows at a $28 bottle of wine. I’m just a whisky nut so I think in terms of whisky.


    • Agreed. No fair to compare beer and whisky since they are different animals (though it has been argued that whiskey is essentially distilled beer. Would that make them distant cousins twice removed?). I think it was more of a price per serving comparison.


  5. Oops, posted my reply to the wrong thread, was meant to add

    “Not sure on the guy who did twelve, but I did see some reselling of the beer going on so I know at least someone was playing silly buggers.”


    “Did the guy that bought the 12 bottles keep them for himself or did he sell them to other people?”.

    Feel free to delete if you want and I will add to the correct thread


    • No worries! I know what you meant. Thanks for the follow up. Not sure how I feel about the reselling. I’m not that greedy. If I go to the trouble of hunting down a rare beer, I want it for myself so that I can share it with friends.


  6. I have to admit that I was so happy to find several limited releases that I was more than willing to pay $25 for an 11.2 ounce bottle of the Ola Dubh Special Reserve 30 and $20 for an 18.7 ounce bottle of the Yorkshire Stingo. So $28 bucks for a bottle of CBS doesn’t seem outrageous. However, I can’t imagine going out to EBay and buying the “collectible” bottle for $90. I also have to question the legality of such sales. I can see it now, an ATF raid on one of our patios and the booze dancers brought down by the federales.


  7. I have some 2003 vintage Bud Light Lime. How much longer to I need to keep it to get it to $30/can?

    I think $28 for a 750 is insane. I haven’t had the CBS but that 28 dollar investment would get me a nice bottle of Eagle Rare Bourbon and many nights of enjoyment instead of just one.


  8. Its very hard to type with the softened point of a smoked smelt. Isn’t that what CBS and the debate is really about?

    Alex Trebek
    Sarah McClaughlan
    Loverboy’s Red Leather Pants
    The Avantii

    Now that’s what I call Canadia!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cheers, Eh?


  9. Asked the beer guy at my local craft beer store about this; he said they priced it at $17 or $18 USD. Sold out in 18 minutes. The stores asking $28 for it are gouging, IMO.


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