Rant du jour

OK, I have a couple beers in me and it time to let the shit fly. Now I’m a firm believer in “every thing has its place”, but there are just some things in the craft beer world that is plain getting out of hand. eBay is my gripe of the day, rather rant du jour.

So this afternoon a great beer trading buddy of mine emails me. He knows I’m going to San Fransisco on vacation and will be there while Toronado is having there big 23rd anniversary celebration. Now my friend I are always hooking each other up with beer we can’t get locally; It’s been a great trading partnership. So, he says Toronado is having their 23rd anniversary party, do you think you could grab me a bottle of Cable Car. Now my buddy is about on the up and up as you can get. He olny trades with people who are in it for the experience of the beer, not because it is the best shit according to Beer Advocate or Rate Beer trading forums are giving their first born and right arm for the beer, no he wants to drink the beer. So I tell him, “sure if I can get it there, I’ll gladly get you a bottle”.

From BeerNews.org (http://beernews.org/tag/lost-abbey-cable-car/)

This afternoon I call up Toronado and ask them about Cable Car and their Pizza Port anniversary Imperial Red. The gentleman tells me it is only for consumption on premise and can’t be taken away. So I say “Okay… why” He say, we are sick of people selling the beer for $200 a bottle on eBay. WOW! I totally get what they are saying. Cause a few money grubbing people were selling this beer on eBay, it stops people like myself from enjoying it and sharing it with some friends. It really pissed me off! I’m not pissed at Tornado, I agree with what they are doing, but damn I would love to take a bottle home to New Jersey to share with my #BrewYork crew!

About 2 years ago I used to buy some beer on eBay that I couldn’t get here in NJ. I thought $20 dollars for a bottle of Carnivale was worth 20 dollars including shipping, but it is no longer like that. What I’ve seen on eBay over the last year is a travesty in my humble opinion. I’ve seen the Allagash coolship beers for $200 a bottle. Now, I’ve had the coolship beers. Allagash sent them to me as part of a podcast I was doing on spontaneous fermented beer. But, these beers have never been released to the public.  You get a company like Allagash being generous enough to give them to some people who then go around and sell them on eBay? That is just wrong in my opinion. I’m not even going to start with Dark Lord…

As long as there are people out there who see a dollar to be made this will always be a problem. At some point the money become more important then what the beer is or was intended to be. There are dozens of example of beer being hyper-inflated on ebay, Lost Abby, Russian River, Allagash, Utopias, Dark Lord, Surly, Imperial Stout Trooper, Sexual Chocolate, Perfect Storm, Black Tuesday, and more. Quite frankly I’m surprised many of these brewers don’t make people sign ledgers so they can track who is perverting the good names trying to make a quick dollar.

After my original post and some great comments below, I went on eBay.  Here’s some numbers/greed:

  • 4 BA Mikkeller Black Holes – $110, retail $65?
  • ’08 Kate the Great – $135!
  • Three Floyds Alpha Kong – $80
  • ’08 Surley Darkness – $85
  • ’10 Surley Smoke – $79.99
  • 3 Firestone Parabola – $139.99
  • 09 Utopias – $279.99

This is just the first page, not all of these had bids.   I guess what gets me is that people will pay that for these bottles.  As long as there is a demand the price is “justified”.

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25 Responses to “Rant du jour”

  1. markskar Says:

    You forgot about Kate the Great, the local beer here in Portsmouth, NH that has been known to fetch $200+ per 22oz bottle on eBay. The beer really is amazing, but it isn’t “that” amazing, nor are any of the beers you mentioned. It’s damn near impossible for locals to get a taste of Kate without special, unannounced releases like they had yesterday (the single keg was gone in 2.5 hours).

    I’m all for beer trading, gifting, and helping others out through FedEx, UPS, etc., but the craft beer “vulture capitalists” on eBay make me sick. I say report them to their local law enforcement officers, all of them (I’d say the BATF, but they only really care if it’s mass quantities involved).

    The parasites on eBay make it harder for everyone, locals included, to enjoy the best craft beers. The best thing going for craft beer is that it’s “accessible”, but not at the prices you see on eBay.

  2. Ray Grace Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m sure the Cable Car restrictions are in large part coming from Lost Abbey. Tomme Arthur has ranted about this very thing on multiple times. Have a great time in San Francisco, you’re not going to be in SoCal at all on this trip?

  3. Simply Beer Says:

    @Mark – yes Kate the Great too. I’ve talked to several brewers who are a minutia away from no longer doing these special releases. The only reason they still do is the majority who are in “it” for the beer not the VC!

    @Ray – I’m totally behind their reasons, but my Freudian Id still wants to take the beer home! No SoCal only SF and Sonoma this trip.

  4. Lee Williams Says:

    AMEN! Buddy!

  5. Tweets that mention Simply Beer - Rant du jour -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simply Beer and Lee Williams, Tom Fortier. Tom Fortier said: Sometimes unadulterated capitalism can ruin great things! RT @SimplyBeer: my rant Du Jour! http://ow.ly/2lODP #eBay @toronado [...]

  6. Stevie Says:

    I second this, Peter!

  7. The Ferm Says:

    How about BA Hunahpu from Cigar City $25 from the brewery, I’ve seen go as high as $300+

  8. Peter Egelston Says:

    Howdy,
    I saw your post pop up on my google reader and thought I’d chime in. For the record, I’m Peter Egelston, proprietor of the Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose Brewing, both located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As has been noted above, we are the source of Kate the Great – the beer and all the hoopla that accompanies its release every year. Like most, if not all of the brewers whose beers are mentioned above, we, too, are distressed at the (illegal) re-sale of our rare beers on eBay. Many of us have discussed this and expressed our mutual frustration at this practice. Sadly, until eBay decides to enforce its alcohol policy consistently, there isn’t much we can do on our end, except to keep reporting these listings to eBay, and, ultimately, to the California Liquor Commission, which has jurisdiction over unlicensed sales that take place through eBay, a California corporation. Unfortunately, we also all have businesses to run, so the hours spent chasing this problem around is time robbed from other more productive pursuits.

    One other thing I need to reiterate is this: the exorbitant prices do not originate with the breweries. Brewers as a rule are in this business for the long haul. It doesn’t serve our interests to rip our customers off (or stand by and see them ripped off by others, either). A bottle of Kate the Great costs ten dollars at the brewery, which is a fair price, in our opinion. Many have urged us to raise our price, and perhaps we will, but if we do, it will be due to the internal cost logic of our business (the same logic that dictates the price of a hamburger at our pub), not on how hard we can squeeze our customers, based on what a few people are willing to pay on eBay.

    Which brings me to my final point. Any transaction requires both a seller and a buyer. I can assure you that brewers are working on our end to stop the rip-off resale of our beers on eBay. Beer lovers can do their part by not participating in these auctions. I know that sounds like Pollyanna, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

    Thanks for supporting good beers and the brewers who make them!

    Cheers,

    P-

  9. Simply Beer Says:

    @Lee, @Stevie, thanks. It’s tough getting some of the harder to find beers. How do you guys do it?

    @theFerm, wow that is crazy. People get really desperate to have the cool new beer and I thought we were in a recession!

  10. Mike Says:

    I’m going to sell the last bottle of your Bourbon Barrel aged double ESB on eBay. What do you think I could get for it? ;-)

  11. Simply Beer Says:

    @Peter, thanks for taking the time to respond to this post. It’s great to have the opinion of the brewer who’s beer is caught up in this lunacy! For the most part agree with you. I think is is ridiculous to be gouged/raped on prices for beer, well anything for that matter. It appears there isn’t really a recession for some people. I can’t justify paying that much for your beer or really anyone else’s either. But you could also look it as flattery that someone wants your beer so bad they are willing to shell out a couple clams for your beer. Then at the same time do they really want to drink the beer because of it’s qualities and uniqueness as a beer or because of the rarity and the “look what I have cache” they have placed on the beer.

    It’s conflicting for me, I want to try everything out there but at the same time can’t justify the cost.

    Good luck with your future Kate the Great releases. One day I hope I can try the beer, so please don’t stop doing what you do well especially with the limited release because of the short sightedness of a few. BTW, Congrats on the Michael Jackson Award for Big A and your Smuttynose Robust Porter is one of the best porters I’ve had, thanks to the folks at hunterdon Distributing here in NJ who turned me onto it.

  12. Simply Beer Says:

    @mike, it is priceless! you can’t put a price on the love I put into my homebrew, especially for your wedding!

  13. Jason Says:

    As someone relatively new to cellaring (and properly enjoying) craft beer, I’ve hit up eBay infrequently for a few, er, collectible glass bottle purchases. Some of the great beers out there just don’t make it to this state. Additionally, being a rookie in the community, I’d like a suitable collection – and reputation – before I try getting into trades.

    That aside, I make it a point to review and watch auction listings for a long time and avoid the ones who are solely looking to profit. A $5-10 markup per bottle for something properly cellared seems fair to me. Paying a $60+ premium just because someone was lucky enough to score a bottle of KtG? Hell no.

    If avoiding eBay in the future will better serve the community as a whole, then I will happily do my part.

  14. Lucas E Szymanowski Says:

    @Peter

    hate to post hijack, but read bout your wins in the CAMRA. Congrats. I’d love to try your beers, but wont pay ebay prices. Definitely going to make sure that I visit when out your way!

    Cheers

    Lucas

    Shizmo Brewing Co.

  15. Gina Says:

    Agree 100% with your post. Though it’s unfortunate for the rest of us beer lovers, I do appreciate their approach of selling it only for on site consumption. Oh well, it gives me an excuse to plan a trip, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks for the post!

  16. Lee Williams Says:

    I do a lot of trading with the sample people. Breweries send samples of quite a few, so I’ve got some that way. So far I have made 1 purchase on eBay- for the 2 Imperial Stout Troopers. Trading is the way to go though. I will admit though, it is hard to find folks that have certain beers unless you are willing to get involved on Beer Advocate. Something that I still find intimidating. I’ve been tempted recently to pay far too much for a BA Cigar City beer that I missed the boat on.

  17. Lee Williams Says:

    To the above I mean ‘same people’ not ‘sample people’ ;)

  18. Big Tex Says:

    Grr… I see why the prices go high… supply is limited, and demand is higher than the given supply. I understand that. But, like the rest of you, this black-market beer rubs me the wrong way. Sale of alcohol requires a license, right?

    Peter Egelston… just another example of why beer people are generally good people. :-)

  19. Simply Beer Says:

    @gina, I’m definitely looking forward to the toronado, even if they didn’t have Cable Car. I’ve heard it’s one of our country’s best beer bars.

    @jason, I love the idea of cellaring and I do cellar quite a lot of beers, I wish I could drink them faster. My problem is a have more beer then I can drink at a time. My local liquor stores love me :-) Trading is about the only way you are going to get some of the rarer beers without the cost, but that requires patients and building relationships.

    @lee, I know what you mean about BA, it to is a weird place for me. It is like beer currency. How much is this years KtG worth, 1 Dark Lord? 2 of something else? it is a whole other world there on the trading forums, there seems to be an understanding of what things are worth based on the demand and rarity of the item. I just haven’t completely figured it out.

    @Big Tex, I think beerpeopleRgoodpeople, as a former president once said “I depends on what your definition of is, is.”

  20. Brian Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I just started noticing this problem when searching out beer from my home state of MI (Bells), and it pissed me off, but the prices were not as extreme. Regardless, its lame and hurts the industry and enthusiasts. FYI – I’ll be dropping in over at ESB next week and look forward to meeting you. – Brian

  21. Simply Beer Says:

    @brian, looking forward to meeting you as well along with Richard and everyone else next wed!

  22. Richard Brewer-Hay Says:

    Let’s talk about this when we catch up tomorrow. I work at eBay for my day job and manage a lot of the social media programs and blogging. Maybe a blog post is in order.
    Cheers,
    Richard.

  23. Simply Beer Says:

    Sounds like a great work related lunch! :-)

  24. Pete Culos Says:

    Sorry to jump in late here, but I felt I needed to comment. I agree that the ebay thing is not in spirit of the craft beer concept. And, as Peter from Portsmouth points out, it’s illegal too.

    However, he also points out it’s a two way transaction. If someone is willing to pay $300 for a $10 bottle of beer, there’s no way to stop that and it is the nature of business. I don’t know who’s buying all this ebay beer, but it can’t be a very good investment. Beer does eventually go bad.

    People pay crazy prices for vintage wine, and this is no different. It’s speculation. So, stop bitching about it and simply refuse to participate!

  25. michael reinhardt Says:

    I’ve been pissed about this for a long time. There is good capitalism and bad capitalism. People are right to say that no one is twisting the arm of someone to get them to pay so much for a beer on ebay. However, I agree with your sentiment about the bigger implications of ebay beer. I live really close to Lost Abbey and can’t carry out a bottle of Duck Duck or Isabel Proximus because of the same exploitative selling. From the brewer’s perspective, they are doing the right thing. What they are doing ensures that only those who really want to drink their beer buy it.

    By the way, it it illegal to sell beer on ebay but the loophole is that the bottle is itself valuable, so of course they’ve gotten around it. Of course beer does eventually go bad but I’ve read about bottles of Fuller’s Ale being around for around 150 years (if you buy the right beer and store it correctly it can last for a very long time…so it can be a very good investment).


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