In my frequent tirades against high growler prices, I make the claim that the cost of filling a growler with beer should be in the ballpark of the price of a six-pack of similar quality. They serve the same end, namely taking some beer home. Thus was born the six-pack equivalent, or SPE: a way to wrap your mind around the cost of filling a growler.
Even though no one would expect beer consumed at the point of sale to be priced similarly to a retail six-pack, the six-pack equivalent is still a useful way to compare prices in a situation where the volumes offered are different. For example, in writing up PGE Park, I compared the SPE of PGE's 12 and 20 ounce cups ($45 and $29.70 respectively). Or you could compare the price of imperial pints at Bailey's Taproom with that of cheater pints nearby at Henry's, and see who gives you a better deal.
To that end, here is a six-pack equivalent calculator (below). [Update 2011/01/01: My neighbor Lindsey has now turned this into an Android phone app! Fitting, because he originally inspired the SPE by comparing growler prices with single-bottle prices. Further update: Now there are also two iPhone SPE apps.]
It helps put a lot of things into perspective. For instance, I was surprised to find that my $11 bombers of Mirror Mirror cost me an SPE of $36. Compare Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for about $11/six-pack at the 7-11. Or consider that Full Sail Session -- because of the 11-ounce bottles -- has an SPE of $6 for an $11 12-pack. Not as good as the $5.50 if the bottles held 12 ounces.I was just guessing about how much actual beer is in 20- or 16-ounce glasses, figuring you lose about an ounce for the head on the beer. Anyone have any scientific data?
Also, let's have a round of applause for those establishments with a fill line marked on the glass: Brewers Union, Deschutes, Belmont Station, and Hopworks.
Give the calculator a whirl. Find any interesting bargains or rip-offs?