10 March 2012

Pliney the Younger for $45 a Pour

Picture from My Beer Pix
Last week, Kupros Bistro in Sacramento (I won't link to them for reasons soon to be obvious) got a keg of Pliney the Younger, the limited release from Russian River Brewing Company. Knowing that Beer Geeks go mad for this beer, Kupros decided to have a special event. For a $45 ticket, a beer lover would get one 12 oz pour of Pliny the Younger, one of their $14 burgers, and a buck off any other tap beer for the rest of the event. A lot of people complained that Russian River was price gouging.

However, Russian River is required by law to sell their beer at the price they submitted to the California Alcoholic Commission. Their distributor in Sacremento (DBI) also has to notify ABC about the price they sell the keg for. And that price is nowhere near the price that would price Pliny the Younger that Kupros advertised.

DBI sent their representative to Kupros where, presumably, there was an "attitude adjustment."  Kupros deleted the promo for the event from their Facebook page, and announced they would be selling Pliny the younger for $3 for an 8 ounce pour, limit one per customer. Later they revised it to $1 for a 6 ounce pour, limit one per customer.

But why did DBI and Russian have to get involved with the free market like that? Kupros is a legally licensed seller of beer. They determine their profit margin, not Russian River or DBI.  Granted Kupros was gouging, and some people complained, and it made DBI and Russian River look like the bad guys. Oil companies can get us to pay $4 a gallon for gas and generate profits in the billions. HP sells printer ink for $8000 a gallon, and we gladly pony up. So if some overenthusiastic Beer Geek buys a ticket for a $45 dollar pour, more power to 'em!

The problem is, of course, that Beer Geeks would pay $45 for Pliny the Younger. And some would take the ticket, and try to sell it on eBay for $500. The Chase Mentality at work. Shame on any beer lover for even considering paying that much.

Just for giggles, let's do some math. There are 1920 ounces of beer in a standard half barrel keg. (I know the half barrel keg is 15.5 gallons. I am assuming some loss from service. I may be overestimating.) There are 320 6 ounce pours in the keg. Going for a buck a pop, that means Kupros Bistro will sell that keg for $320. At $3 for 8 ounces, they would sell the keg for $720. And at $29 ($45-$14(for the burger) - $3(assuming the average customer will have three beers after their meal) for 12 ounces they would have made $4640. I don't know what the cost of a keg of Pliny the Younger costs, but I guesstimate about $200 from the distributor, and around $150 from the brewery. So that first event would have netted them $4440 in profit from Pliny alone!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:00

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