16 September 2011

Beer's Black Market

Recently, the Washington Post published a story about Beer's black market. You know, when someone gets a limited edition beer, puts it on eBay for hundreds of dollars. You know how I feel about the whole chase mentality thing. I am glad to see that the brewers are getting more proactive about the problem.

However hard they work to shut down this black market, they don't seem to be doing anything about the root cause of the situation: an intentionally small supply.

As the popularity of craft beer grows, people like me, who don't live in the popular brewing centers, are given short shrift. It's unreasonable of me to expect Russian River or Lost Abbey to distribute all over the country, but I do get tired of hearing how wonderful their beer is. (I've been to both places. They do have wonderful beer.) It's not their fault I live in the Great Texas Craft Beer Desert.

I could move into a place across the street from Russian River, or even Spec's in Austin. But I like the town I live in. So I make the occasional trek to one of the Oases (San Antonio or Austin) once a month to load up on Texas beers. I don't, as a matter of principle, put it on eBay. For several reasons.

First, I don't have a license to sell beer.

Second, if I put a "collectible bottle with an unknown liquid inside" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in a box and ship it in an unrefrigerated truck, the beer will be damaged at arrival. I don't want the buyer to leave me bad feedback for the shipping conditions. Now, I'm willing to gamble that damage on the beer I make when I send it to friends.

Third, I want to drink it!

There are two solutions to the beer black market and neither of them work: The brewers could make more beer, or we consumers could stop being dicks by trying to profit off of someone else's hard labor.

posted by Jeff Holt at 08:36

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