If you buy it by the case, a great bottle of beer will set you back two, maybe three bucks a bottle. A one-off 750ml will run you $20, maybe $30 tops.
Compare that to the cost of wine. If you wanted a wine of, say, the quality of $15-a-case Yuengling, it would run you about $10 a bottle. A Saranac-level wine goes for about $20, and a wine in the class of Troeg’s Nugget Nectar or Stone Ruination ($60/case range) will set you back at least $50.
Of course, a $50 wine is hardly the cream of the crop. For that, you’ve got to pay over a hundred bucks a bottle (or closer to $200 in a restaurant).
Now, I’ve heard some brewers lament the fact that they’re unable to charge more for some of their beers, that beer-drinkers are accustomed to enjoying great beer at a much lower price than that of wine. A brewery’s inability to charge $100 for a spectacular one-off, they gripe, is evidence that beer is a second-class beverage behind wine.
Not to diminish their hard work and product quality, but I absolutely cringe when I hear that talk, and not just because I can’t afford to peel off C-notes for the latest Belgian-influence West Coast hop monster. I shudder because that attitude gives up on beer’s unmatched asset of affordability. Like it or not, beer is the Everyman’s Beverage, and as a result it’s beer that they serve in ballparks and at NASCAR race tracks. It’s beer I’ll be drinking at my poker game tonight. It’s beer that’s the All-American beverage, that the President used to settle a racial quarrel, that Americans will be cracking open at Memorial Day picnics.
It’ll never have that kind of standing in America, unless beer gives up that turf.
Why not? Because of horseshit like this, an insider’s acerbic account of what makes a $100 bottle of wine. Give it a read, but if you don’t have the time, the bottom line is that - even if the winery bought entirely new equipment every year and didn’t take a write-off - a $100 bottle costs the maker, at most, $28.25.