Beer Q&A: Why has beer gotten so expensive?

The cost of beer is going up, but why?

The cost of beer is going up, but why?

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Why has beer gotten so doggone expensive?

Brewers cite rising costs of brewing equipment, hop varieties and specialty ingredients — for instance, the prized, yet disgusting, civet coffee needed for Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.

Consumers cite craft beer’s growing popularity, which enables breweries to charge budget-busting prices.

While both arguments sound feasible, consider the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ flabbergasting findings: between 2000 and 2018, prices in the “beer, ale and other malt beverages” category actually lagged behind inflation.

Beer prices rose an average of 2.04% per year, while inflation for all items averaged 2.12%.

An important caveat: those stats are true for the entire range of beers. While the fastest growing segment of the total beer market, craft beer last year accounted for only 12.7% of U.S. beer sales.

Yet it’s undeniable that consumers are paying higher prices for better beer. Last summer, the Craft Beer Co. pub chain in Britain charged £22.50 — $28.60 — for a pint of Speedway Stout. Still, let’s note that this beer from AleSmith Brewing is more reasonably priced closer to its home — San Diego.

Read more of Peter Rowe’s column here.

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