Breaking the pound barrier

I’d be one of the people to suggest that paying more for beer is no different from paying more for any product or service.  Every time we shop for food, clothes and other consumables we are evaluating the cost benefit.  Will yogurt A enrich my digestive system? or the gammon from the Super Special range start a party on my tongue where a ‘basics’ brand would leave my senses deflated?  Well in some cases this would be true, paying more for food can result in a tastier or more enjoyable experience.  The difference with food is that it is something we really need, but to discuss nutrition and cost opens up a whole other can of worms [pun intended].  When discussing other items we buy, aside from sustenance, non alcoholic beverages, fuel and shelter, everything else we purchase is there to enrich or enhance our lives.  Again, some would argue that the lavish trappings available to us are actually distracting us from attaining true happiness, but for the purposes of this two-bit blog post, lets just say that these non-essential items do enhance our lives.  Consider when you buy new footwear or a coat, we need these items of clothing (and other items of clothing) to keep us warm, keep us on the right side of the law, keep us in employment (where the right uniform or look is important), I’m guessing that the first consideration is how it looks, then “can I afford it”? then “well I’ll just try it on”, then how does it/they feel?, again “can I afford it/them?” yes = purhcase, no = keep looking.  We will often buy something that is more expensive than is required to get the job done and the reasoning can be complicated.  It then becomes even more complicated as one persons cheese is another persons chalk.  I might perceive a benefit in something where someone else may not, noone is right.  It’s just a matter of opinion.

So when considering beer in the same way, and before discussing the purchasing of beer in terms of class, (something I’m not going to do, because I don’t consult my ‘class’ when considering to do anything – my class is something that is important to government office and marketeers), we should acknowledge that beer is not essential to us.  But if we do choose to dabble, then as with the argument for clothing, there are many different types of beer and ultimately they will all do the job that the product intends.  But where the consumers intention is not just to exact a temporary lobotomy, then this opens up a world of possibility in terms of taste and social activities.  Life enhancing? I would say yes.

Zak Avery discusses/plays devils advocate re: social class, or more to the point ‘craft’ beer and snobbery, on his blog and as an extension to Boak and Bailey’s post.  As someone who has an interest in beer and enjoys trying different beer which is sometimes expensive, the notion that people buying fancy, rare or expensive beer to communicate their relative importance or sophistication to those who don’t is something I don’t recognise in myself.  There could be people with this motive.  The only way I can think to describe this from my point-of -view is that if I have some spare time, which is not very often, then I make sure I use that time to the full.  It’s not always used on beer related activity, but when it is I choose to drink in certain pubs and try beers that interest me.  On occasions my choices can cost £9 a pint, more typically around £3 a pint, but my decision process does not include a superiority enhancer.

At times I am a little uneasy about the cost, but I know when I can afford to get involved and when to take it steady on my beer budget.  Cost is not the driver when I buy a beer, it is a consideration, and usually a split second thing, no premeditation or class snobbery here.

7 thoughts on “Breaking the pound barrier

  1. This is great. Sets out very clearly how beer relates to other non-essential purchases. Isn’t the logical conclusion of all the fretting over whether craft beer is destined to lead to elitism that none of us *needs* to drink beer?

    • Thanks. Yes I think so. I tend to think as I write and my thoughts led me to look at it from the point of view that beer is just something else we buy. I think the most important debate around consumerism, cost, class, is when it involves products or services that impact on a persons basic needs. i.e. the inability to afford fruit and vegetables, water, gas and electric or a roof over the head. To brand a beer geek a snob is to brand every car owner a snob, and those with cars of siginficant value elitist, in my opinion.

  2. Its a tricky old situation. Expensive dosen’t always mean good but if you are interested in any specific interest you want the best or the most exciting/interesting option.
    People select many unessential things that enrich their lives, choosing a specific area of a football ground to buy your season ticket. Dosen’t mean its any better than other parts of the ground but for you personally it ticks more boxes.
    In regards to beer I’m a “1 percenter”, I want those experiences that people talk about on American blogs, I dream of a trip to San Fransico and a beer at the Toronado. But I’ll very happy with a week in Rome or Belgium. I want Russian River beers but I’m over the moon to drink Kernel and Buxton.
    I do not need these fancy beers, but neither did I need all those t-shirts I used to own or KISS albums or skate-punk CDs or cool melodramic-arty comics but they made me happy. They certainly enriched my life.

    I do find myself in front of beer shelves wanting to tell people not to but those bottles of Black Sheep and Dechures IPA and to get some Magic Rock and Buxton instead. I want them to know what I know. I’m fully aware people are happy buying Badger beers but I also belive that there are better things out there, you just look abit further.

    The best pubs are always harder to find, the best music isn’t played on the radio and bought parmesan is better than the dry stuff in the shaker that smells like seaty arses.

    So I guess I’m a snob. But I’m greatful that I’ve had the chance to taste and experience things that are a bit special.

    • Quite right in saying that expensive doesn’t always mean good, but I think we still take the risk on some of these things so that we don’t miss out. Not every album recorded by our favourite recording artist will be a to our taste, and on the flip side Jedward may happen across some music genius and we could miss out for setting our bar too high and not scrabbling through the bargain bin 🙂 (I’m all over the place here, but I got a few bottles of FD Gonzo for £1 thanks to scrabbling through a bargain bin – not the actions of a snob).. ha ha

      I tried to get across that just because someone might buy expensive ‘craft’ beer, does not mean that this is due to snobbery…for all sorts of reasons.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. An interesting read and comments too.
    I got shot down in flames on another beer bloggers post a while back for saying similar things to those quoted above. Basically that price, dispense method etc are not major drivers for me when making purchases and they really aren’t.

    Yes I may look at the price to buy “again” and as you say, be uneasy about justifying it. But then as Rob as said I do often find myself with a kid in a sweetshop look on my face when presented with an array of beers that I just WANT to drink.

    Personally and again following a similar theme to yourself, Bailey and Rob, I don’t think snobbery has anything to do with it, I don’t buy a £5 half and the proceed to ponce around the bar showing off, I’d be more likely to shove it under your nose and say “have a taste of that”.

    It’s a desire to share and enlighten yes but in a positive way from personal experience gained through purchases made or from recommendations of trusted friends, not an intent to belittle.

    • Spot on Phil. I think this is just one of those things where we have to agree to disagree with the people who are determined to categorise us as snobs. I think part of the problem for them may be that they find it hard to accept that people choose to spend more on beer than they do, and if they don’t do it then how can anyone else?
      Agreed with you on the buy and share thing too. This was exactly the case last night when I shared several different beers with friends. It spread the cost, but most importantly we shared the experience and could talk about the beer as we drank and chatted. The fact that I then tweeted which beers I’d tried could then be construed as snobby / showing off beer trophies or whatever they want to call it, but I do this partly for my records (hazy memory towards the end of the night) and also to discuss with other like-minded people. If people see this kind of behaviour as snobby then they only need to unfollow 🙂
      Thanks for your comments.

      • Haha I never think about people thinking I’m showing off or being a beer snob when I tweet about a special beer, I’m usually trying to stir a few comments and wind a few fellow beery folk up lol 😉

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