Issue May 13, 2008

Mug Shots: A fair price?

It’s hard for a business owner to patronize the same type of business without analyzing it. On the one hand, every pub owner’s visit to another pub is a potential tax deduction; on the other, it makes it hard to relax and enjoy the experience when you’re busy taking notes.
Especially when you know what things actually cost.

Pricing is a complicated matter for any businessman, and I won’t pretend to be an authority on it. Ultimately, all I’ve ever tried to do is make the price fair, even while acknowledging that the concept of “fairness” might take up a full semester of Philosophy 101. Certain suggestions and guidelines are passed from generation to generation, not all of which apply to what I take into consideration when pricing beer, although most are helpful in some way.

Much to the relief of my long-suffering conscience, none of these involves the blatant extortion that derives from limited competition, but then again, I’m not in the sports concessionaire business, so I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it?

Last week I accompanied good friends to Cincinnati to occupy seats in the lower left field stands at Great American Ball Park to watch the Reds pelt the Cubs. Near our seats was a concession stand vending Bell’s Oberon Ale at a price of $7.75 for what I judged to be a 14-ounce pour. Without giving too much away, I’ll say only that it figures out to a bit more than $900 profit (before expenses) on a regular 15.5-gallon keg of beer.

And yet it could have been worse. People seated near me were paying $7 a plastic bottle for insipid domestic beer. That’s marginally more return per ounce compared with the Oberon, and for immeasurably inferior beer.
Are hip flasks back in style yet?

Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com
for more beer.