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.