Friday, March 19, 2010

Portland Beer Price Index: Spring 2010

Sunday is the spring equinox, so it's time once again for the Portland Beer Price Index. As a reminder, this survey is not a complaint about beer prices generally or at any particular place. It's just my attempt to watch price trends over time. For more details on which beers and establishments were surveyed, see the first PBPI.

Here is the Spring 2010 PBPI:
  • 6-packs: $8.74, down 1 cent
  • 22-ounce bombers: $4.94, down 9 cents
  • 6-packs (sale price): $8.15, up 30 cents
  • 22-ounce bombers (sale price): $4.88, down 9 cents
  • 16 oz. draft: $4.20, unchanged
  • 16 oz. draft (happy hour): $3.48, up 2 cents
It's interesting, the pint price is unchanged again, but not because no one changed their prices this time. A 25-cent drop in the typical Belmont Station tap price offset the 25-cent rise at Deschutes. The happy hour average went up because the Bridgeport Ale House is 25 cents less generous than it was three months ago.

The drop in bomber prices is almost wholly due to a $1 drop in the price of Pelican IPA at Belmont and New Seasons.  Fred's is pocketing the savings on Pelican, and also seems to indicate that they're going to raise the price of Rogue Shakespeare Stout, though the sale price keeps it even for now.  I noted fewer 6-pack sales this time, which resulted in the 30-cent jump in the 6-pack sale price.  In particular, no one had a sale on Deschutes.

Is something going on with Deschutes' cash flow?  They raised their pub pint price, and no six-packs are on sale.  On the other hand, prices are still falling at Belmont Station -- including a 25-cent drop on the typical draft pint price -- which makes me think they're feeling the heat from Beermongers.  Do the Deschutes and Belmont changes represent two opposing responses to the rough economy?  I also noticed more variability in the prices at Horse Brass.  A lot of classics are just $4.25 a pint, but some guest tap prices are creeping up.  For now I kept a $4.50 typical price for Horse Brass.

In the next cycle, I'm likely to drop Safeway, since they only contribute four six-packs and no bombers.  I tried to outflank them this time by checking out the fancier store at 39th and Powell, but it had exactly the same selection as on Hawthorne.  Does Trader Joe's have the beers in my survey?  QFC?  I might consider Beaumont Market or 39th Street Mini-Mart as a replacement, but they are likely to have higher prices than Safeway and I'd have to figure out how to restate the prices.  If you have any ideas for me, I'd love to hear them.

Look for the next PBPI around June 21.


  1. Not sure when they did it, but the last two times I was there, growlers @ Deschutes were at $14 per instead of $15. But yeah, I don't recall the last time I saw their six-packs on sale.

  2. Have you considered adding Plaid Pantry to your store list? They have rotating $5.99 sixers of Widmer, Full Sail, etc.

  3. El.Hueso: That's not a bad idea. Does Plaid Pantry have 6-packs from Bridgeport, Caldera, Deschutes, Full Sail, Terminal Gravity, and Widmer? And bombers from Hopworks, Laurelwood, Lompoc, Ninkasi, Pelican, and Rogue?

  4. Your remark about the Horse Brass reminds me. Why don't they seem to get any heat from the community for not printing prices on their guest tap list?

  5. I'm not sure how it helps, but the Safeway out here in West Linn recently dedicated an endcap to craft bombers. Admittedly, the selection doesn't hold a candle to a place like Market of Choice, but there are lots of really good beers there now.

  6. QFC would be a good one to replace safeway. Occasionally I make it out to the one on east burnside, and they have a great selection.

    Actually, aside from PBPI, it's a nice place to visit now and then anyway. I can't recall seeing midnight sun berzerker anywhere else in town, but they had it this year. They also get plenty of the local special release beers, without the crowds and bottle limits, etc... and the prices are always solid.

  7. I'm with pedXer, I've always been pleased with the QFC beer selection at 57ish and Burnside. 33rd and Broadway's alright, but not as good.

  8. Thanks, gents. I'll check out QFC soon and see if I can use them instead of Safeway.