Why is craft beer so expensive in Washington?

on 28/10/11 at 9:13 am


Talk about liquid assets. At the new Big Board burger joint on H Street NE, you can watch beer prices rise and fall in real time on a large digital screen mounted to the wall. The more pints you buy of any particular brew, the farther its cost will drop. So you’re left standing there, frothy glass in hand, staring at the screen, kind of like a trader tracking equities at the New York Stock Exchange—only slightly less drunk.

That’s the idea, anyway.

On a recent visit, I was stoked to see that New Belgium Ranger IPA, a popular Colorado product that is relatively new to the District, was down 50 cents to $6.50 per pint. You know the saying: buy low. Bartender! Pour me a Ranger! It turns out the discount comes at a high cost. The keg is already kicked. Bummer.

My next two choices, Chocolate City Cornerstone Copper and Allagash White, have a similar story: The price had dropped until the keg ran dry. Double bummer. I hemmed and hawed, scouring the prices of somewhat less compelling libations. Yuengling for $4.50, Peroni at 75 cents off—no thanks. I finally settled for a Guinness. Price: $7. No discount.

“Isn’t that depressing?” grumbles the guy beside me at the bar. “I switched to whiskey.”


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