“I Can’t Afford It”: The Price Factor With Craft Beers


This is in response to a number of comments I’ve gotten while talking with people about my love of beer.  The thought being that beers other than what is considered mainstream (Molson, Bud, Pabst) is too damned expensive, leaving the person feeling that the better value is to by a Two Four of something that, even they admit, tastes like watered down urine.

As someone who roughly makes about $200 a month (not including any little freelance photography work I get and not deducting any monthly bills that need to be paid) I’m going to share some of my experience in response to this frame of mind, which to me is understandable to a point.

It should be considered that this is a personal opinion and when I talk of price I’ll largely be referring to Ontario and US prices, as that’s where I primarily get my beers.

So for price, really you have to consider what you’re after and what setting this will all be in.  The two main situations I’ve heard this complaint are for parties and pub outings.  Let’s take a look at them:

At the Pub

It’s true that there are a LOT of pubs that specialize in craft beers that charge a lot for them.  In my experience though, it’s because most if not all of the brews served are imported bottles that cost an arm and a leg (I’ve seen some brews that go up to $15 for a bottle that barely fills a glass!).  I used to go to these pubs with friends after saving up a HELL of a lot, but while it’s fun to have those beers (especially with friends) financially it’s impractical and, for me at the time, made it feel that craft beer was a thing that could only be indulged in on special occasions when money allowed it and for all other times we go back to the mainstream stuff.   Well, I was a bit of an idiot then (but who isn’t when they look back on themselves?) and have since learned otherwise.

More and more, I’ve noticed pubs popping up that sell craft beers on tap and are charging, shockingly enough, regular tap prices.  One such pub here in Toronto, The Town Crier, has a whopping 50 mostly European beers on tap and charge about $5-$7 a pint for them across the board.  How wonderful is that?

And who says that you have to have international craft beers?  Try one of the best ways to get to know what’s out there in your home region and drink local!   Depending on where you are, there are plenty of pubs out there that serve, sometimes even exclusively, some amazing beers brewed within your region.  I’ve known that, while price will always vary place to place, local brews tend to be pretty reasonably priced.

Parties (Also know as a Pah-ty, Shindig, Hootenanny or Box Social)

I don’t know how the booze situation goes at parties with you normal party animals, but in my circles it’s generally a BYOB situation with the gracious host having a huge supply of something for all to consume if they so wish.  And with the beers that the guests bring in, they can choose to share or not.  So no matter what, there will always be beer.  Always.

For parties I find you’re given a choice.  Either be one of the horde and buy a six or twelve pack of, I don’t know, Heineken, or you could be “that guy” and buy a six or twelve pack of some really nice beer that tastes amazing and, hey it’s a party, has a bit of a kick to it.  Is the latter option more expensive?  If you drink just what you bought, it admittedly is.  But if there’s a beer supply from the host and other people are sharing there’s a good chance that you’ll have more than your money’s worth available to you anyways.  Plus there’s a really good upshot to bringing craft beers to a party: if you share, chances are you’ll turn someone on to that brand, they’ll do a little exploring and at the next party they’ll bring a good craft beer as well.  It sounds unlikely, but believe me it can happen.  Hell, I’ve managed to change a host’s selection by simply bringing some nice beers with me to previous parties held by them.

And that’s them.  There are more settings, of course.  Weekends alone, Fishing trips, observing the Klingon Age of Ascension…there’s loads of situations with many different factors involved and even then it’s an individual experience.  I just went through two of the main reasons for not choosing craft beer here, it’s up to you to figure out the rest.

But in a time where craft beers, especially here in Canada and to an extreme extent in America, are hitting the mainstream stores with more and more force, I’m finding that the price is dropping little by little.  It’s slow, but it is happening.    Is it more expensive in stores than some of the “glorified water” beers out there?  In a lot of cases, yeah it is.  But at the end of the day I’m more likely to buy a six pack of a beer that I enjoy rather than a six pack of a beer that I don’t enjoy and at the moment I don’t notice a large enough price gap to justify drinking the latter.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrea Williams says:

    In most cases, these craft beers will also be higher in ABV. Thus, enjoy sipping on your quality brew, as you’re likely to also enjoy a substantial buzz… if that’s what you’re after.
    The benefit is that if you drink local, you’re also investing in a market that is self-sustaining. I know a lot of people run on a budget, but if that higher ABV 6-pack of beers you *enjoy* and *appreciate* gives you the same shine as a case of guzzle-it-before-it-gets-warm yuckywater, just try the former. I dare ya!
    Plus, eh, La Fin DuMonde is plentiful in the Canadian parts. By American beer-geek practicality, that’s an A++ kind of brew!

    1. Robin says:

      Great reasons for going with craft beers and going local. And you’re right, there’s much more of a chance of cradling the beer and taking your time if it’s a higher ABV with a taste that you appreciate. Great examples are Old Rasputin and La Fin Du Monde.

      And sadly La Fin DU Monde is only available in a select few stores in my province! We have a liquor control board here in Ontario which makes things…difficult. They don’t like the craft beer world very much.

  2. Al says:

    I find that I actually drink a lot less of hoppy, high flavour beer. A 6 pack of Hoptical Illusion/Tank House will likely get me through 3 evenings as my thirst for beer is met. When I drink something like a Blue, I generally stop to avoid a hang over or don’t stop until they’re gone. Water in, water out.

    1. Robin says:

      I like that with a lot of craft beers out there. A little really does go a LONG way. 🙂

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