Like everything else, beer is getting more and more expensive. Relatively speaking, of course, things are not as bad as they seem. Six-pack beer isn’t really all that more today than it was 15 years ago, at least if you account for inflation. Back in the mid-nineties, most craft beers could be bought for about $5.99-$6.99 a six-pack. Today, most will run you about $7.99-$8.99. That’s about a 30% increase roughly, though over 15 years that’s only about 2% per annum.
That’s not the case with many specialty beers, though. Years ago, there were far fewer brews sold in 22-ounce “bombers” or 25.9-ounce fifths. Today they’re everywhere, and the prices today are bordering on outrageous. The 22-ounce bottle may not seem so expensive at $8 or $9, but when you extend that out to price per ounce you’ll see these beers are a sneaky way for brewers to make a lot of money (for that reason, I like to call them “stealth bombers”.)
I have no problem with brewers making money mind you; we all need to. Just leave me a little of mine too, if you don’t mind. Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale is a great case in point. I paid a whopping $10.99 for a 25.9 ounce bottle of this beer. That seems a bit high, of course, and if you do the math that comes to about 42.4 cents per ounce. Now multiply that times 72 (number of ounces in a six-pack), and you get $30.55 as your equivalent price. I don’t know about you, but most people would think twice about spending that much on a six-pack.
To be fair, Estate Homegrown Ale probably costs a little bit more to produce. Sierra Nevada grows the hops and malt for this beer themselves on their Chico, California brewery estate. The resultant beer is an India Pale Ale of formidable character. I’ve laid down bottles bought in October of 2010 for 6 and 12 months respectably and they’ve held up exceedingly well.
Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale pours to a bright ruby color with a towering head of thick rocky foam and a big heady nose of resiny, herbal hops. A thick layer of Brussels lace clings to the sides of my mug and follows the liquid down to the bottom of the glass. Time for a sip, and this one is love at first taste. Immediately, waves of rich malty caramel move across the tongue, followed by the hops: herbal, piney, laced with soft fruity notes and gentle resin. A respectable bitter hop bite lingers on the tongue at the last, leaving the finish long and dry and minty.
Can I say enough how much I love this one, despite the hefty price tag? At 6.7% alcohol by volume it’s classic IPA strength, and yes, that’s welcome indeed. Not so big that the malt gets crowded out, and yet the hops are still the star. I’ve been saying for decades that a beer doesn’t have to hit you over the head with alcohol, malt, or hops to be a great beer: once again, Sierra Nevada proves that.
Not to be missed, would be a five star beer in its own right, but half a star off for the excessive price.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.