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Peter LaFrance

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beer... How special?

Exactly what is a good beer worth?

It’s worth what people are willing to pay.

At the end of September New York City celebrated craft beer week. At least 200 bars pubs taverns and restaurants were involved. There were also at least a dozen special events scheduled that involved everything from cask beer to brewery tours.

I made a special effort, and spent $65, to attend one of the events called Get Real New York. The event was a two-day celebration of cask beers, separated into two tasting sessions each day. There would be at least 80 different cask beers available at each tasting. There would also be a generous selection of foods to sample supplied by New York restaurants and retailers.

It was a warm summer Saturday afternoon, perfect for standing in line for about a half-hour waiting for the doors to open. I was impressed by how well behaved to the crowd was, and also noted that I was probably old enough to be the grandfather of most people standing there. Once they opened the doors tickets were collected identifications checked in a very smooth manner. For some reason I wasn’t asked to prove how old I was.

The tasks that were available were prolific and prestigious. The servers were able, friendly, and knew how to pour beer. It took less than an hour to sit my way through just under 30 beers. During that time I also had a chance to taste some tasty open faced sandwiches, cheeses, and other “finger food”. As I wandered around the very large space, sipping beer and tasting food, I took the opportunity to talk to the people who were serving the beer and food. One of the questions I asked was “How many folks my age have you seen today?” Nine out of 10 times the answer was “None.”

That was when the thought crossed my mind, “Is the appreciation of cask beer limited to those between the ages of 25 and 35?” The obvious answer to that question is, “No.”

So why were there so few of my generation at this event? The answer has nothing to do with beer. It has to do with perceived value. Get ready, here it comes…

When I was the age of most of the people at that event $65 would’ve been enough to feed for starving college students for a week. That same amount of money would have been enough to keep those college students in beer for the same amount time. Should I ask anyone of my generation if they would be willing to pay $65 for three pints of beer and a small plate of food I would be providing them with a humorous story that they can tell the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, I can issue that there were at least a couple of thousand people attended the event… and gladly paid $65 each.

Perhaps I should reevaluate the value of a good beer… never mind, I can’t afford to.

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