At the Beacon Hill Wine & Gourmet in Melrose, a large portion of customers purchase beer and I hear some of their comments on beer prices. Plus, I have spoken to a number of friends and others about beer prices. Based on their comments, it seems to me that beer drinkers may be cheaper than wine drinkers. I am very curious as to why this might be the case.
In a usual six-pack of beer, each bottle is about 12 ounces and thus a six-pack is the rough equivalent of three bottles of wine. Many six-packs cost under $10, and even most of the higher end bottles cost less than $20. That would mean the six-packs are equivalent in cost to wines that run from $2-$7 per bottle, quite a low figure. Yet a fair number of people complain about these prices, which are comparatively very low.
There are some single 750ml bottles of beer which often cost between $10-$15, yet those are not the norm and are often seen as quite expensive. Yet many wine drinkers don't see any problem buying a bottle of wine that costs $10-$15. There are few beers that cost over $15 per bottle, yet you will find plenty of wines that cost more than $15. Why are there so few beers over that price point? Are most beer drinkers just too cheap to pay more than that for a brew?
There are a few exceptionally priced beers, such as the Samuel Adams Utopia, which can cost about $150 per bottle. This seems to be very popular and they seem to have little problem selling this product. But who is buying it? Is it only a tiny segment of beer drinkers, and maybe those who also enjoy wine? What would make beer drinkers, who generally seem to prefer low cost beers, be willing to pay so much for a beer?
Are the price variations between beer and wine due to the different costs of production? That might contribute a bit to the price, but we also know that reputation inflates the price of a number of wines far above the actual costs of production. Does reputation count so much less for beer producers? Is beer just less complex than wine, and thus not often worth as much as wine?
I am not a beer drinker, because I dislike the taste of most beer, so maybe I am missing something. Can anyone enlighten me? Are beer drinkers cheap, or am I missing something?