Craft beer is becoming more popular, and isn't as expensive as you think.

More craft beer for the buck

I don’t need a reason to drink a craft beer … and I certainly don’t need a reason not to drink a cheaper version, more akin to club soda with a hint of hops, like Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) or Miller Lite — but I just got one.

A recent study by a food and beverage research firm called Restaurant Sciences, revealed “sub-premium” beer prices are rising faster than craft beer prices — 6.8% for the likes of PBR while only 1.8% for a craft beer such as Ballast Point Pale Ale.

I like those stats. I’ve been drinking these wonderful concoctions for nearly 30 years. I worked my way through college at a liquor store in Jersey that sold over 100 different types of beer. My boss scoured the nation searching for every craft beer he could get his hands on — and we tried them all!

And I know someone who feels the same way. Just 15 miles from my hometown, in the paved-over paradise of Broward County, Florida, is a jewel of a drinking hole, the award winning Big Bear Brewing Company and the young Brewmaster Matt Cox, who’s been brewing beer for over 14 years…

“Craft beer has been described as the affordable luxury. You may pay $5 or $6 a pint out on the town — but compare that to wine or a new craft cocktail!” said Matt. “Also when you sit down to sip a craft beer, normal consumption is less than a lite beer. You may drink two or three craft beers compared to six lites. This is because of the incredible amount of flavor packed in craft beers and also the typically higher alcohol content.”

Of course he’s a brewer of craft beers and his livelihood depends on it but other beer lovers around the country also agree …

The Brewers Association, whose purpose is “to promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts”, announced that craft beer sales grew 15 percent in 2012. The number of craft breweries also grew from around 1,900 in 2011 to nearly 2,300 in March of 2013.

Let’s face it; the days of cheap beer are gone. In my neighborhood Budweiser at the local Publix supermarket costs around $7.00 a six pack with tax. For two more bucks I can get a six pack of SweetWater IPA  — drink this stuff and you’ll hear the angels sing. The trick is to find ways to save. For example, at Big Bear Brewery they offer one dollar off their craft beers during happy hour. Bingo.

Drink Craft Beer and Save Money

There are a variety of methods to save on craft beer, just like every other piece of merchandise. It just takes a little imagination and investigation.

  1. Stay local: Try a local liquor store or chain store such as Total Wine. Craft beers are always on sale there — right now I’m sampling their Oktoberfest selections. If your local merchandiser doesn’t have a great selection, ask the owner/manager to bring some in, with the promise that you’ll buy it.
  2. Go online: Check out the Urban Spoon for beer deals at pubs and restaurants in your town. Search for sales on websites such as saveonbrew.com or join local clubs such as New Jersey Craft Beer or Beer Dogging out of Chicago.  — or go national and join The Craft Beer Club –they offer 12 craft beers (4 styles, 3 of each style) for around $38, and you get it delivered to your door in most regions. That’s just over $3 per bottle for a freshly brewed craft beer.
  3. Home brew: If you’re into making things on your own, buy a home brew kit. Go online and visit sites such as MrBeer or MoreBeer! Or better yet, make friends with a person who brews beer and make a habit of visiting them.

For the Love of Craft Beer

I recently spoke with a representative of The Craft Beer Club and he put the difference between mass produced brewers and craft brewers in perspective…

”The big brewers are scared of the craft brewers now,” he said. “And it’s not just about their growing market share and fair prices — they’re finding out quickly that more beer drinkers love craft brewers because they’re not marketing a brand, they’re marketing their hearts and souls.”

Let’s shake our collective fists at the corporate giants and raise a glass to the little guy; the craft brewers who brew beer for the product, not the profit. Cheers!

Posted in: College, Food, News
Tagged with: ,