In the previous issue of Motif, my esteemed colleague Pete Larrivee riffed on the fact that “good beer isn’t cheap” and cited the prevalence of the “$12 six-pack.” That citation reminded us of a 2014 Huffington Post article “Here’s how a Six-Pack of Craft Beer Ends Up Costing $12” where Joe Satran did some digging and found that “part of the price differential is due to pure marketing. Like vendors of designer clothing, acclaimed craft breweries can charge more because their customers expect to pay more for luxury goods.” But Satran also noted that “it turns out that craft brewers incur far higher costs than mainstream brewers. Indeed, once you learn about all the work and material that goes into each six-pack, $12 starts to seem like a bargain.”
Satran charted the average monetary breakdown. Ten percent of the cost is ingredients (malt 5%, hops 4%, yeast 1%). packaging (13%), labor (1%), shipping (6%), and loss (2%) add up to 22 percent. The bulk of the costs are capitalism in action with profits, markups and taxes: brewer’s margin (8%), distributor’s margin (21%), retailer’s margin (31%) and paying The Man (federal and state tax = 1%, sales tax = 7%; and, yes, that adds up to 101%, so the math is just a tad fuzzy due to rounding error). Read Satran’s piece to take a much deeper dive into his extensive exegesis of the economics of the beer industry.
But the bottom line is that beer is still an affordable luxury. (Pro tip: for the ultra-budget-minded, a 30-pack of Genesee Cream Ale – which is $15.99 at many packies – is the hands-down best deal around.) And the multi-faceted liquid has inspired some memorable musings from a wide range of literary legends. Savor and share these fermented flights of fancy whilst sipping your glass full of heavenly nectar – howsoever much you paid for it.
Good people drink good beer. Just look around you in any public barroom, and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.
– Hunter S. Thompson
Next to music beer was best.
– Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
“I tell you, Mr. Okada, a cold beer at the end of the day is the best thing life has to offer. Some choosy people say that a too cold beer doesn’t taste good, but I couldn’t disagree more. The first beer should be so cold you can’t even taste it. The second one should be a little less chilled, but I want that first one to be like ice. I want it to be so cold my temples throb with pain. This is my own personal preference of course.”
– Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
A man who lies about beer makes enemies.
– Stephen King, Pet Sematary
[Beer is] intellectual. What a shame so many idiots drink it.
– Ray Bradbury, “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse”
stay with the beer. beer is continuous blood. a continuous lover.
– Charles Bukowski, Love Is a Dog From Hell
Oh, this beer here is cold, cold and hop-bitter, no point coming up for air, gulp, till it’s all – hahhhh.
– Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow,
Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain –
Quaintest thoughts – queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.
– Edgar Allan Poe, “Lines on Ale”
And ICYM our piece in the 2016 Cannabis issue, we encourage you to dig into the Motif archive and read “Suds and Buds” with details on the beer-and-cannabis connection, including a long list of redankulous beer names: Dankosaurus, Rodney Dankerfield, Heart of Dankness, Dawn of the Dank…