Thursday, March 21, 2013

Portland Beer Price Index: Spring 2013

No, no, no!  This isn't how it was supposed to go.

Starting in the middle of 2011, the Portland Beer Price Index (PBPI) looked like it was showing bomber prices decreasing while six-pack prices marched slowly upwards.  Not that I was excited about more expensive six-packs, but I have always considered the bomber price penalty to be a temporary distortion peculiar to the beer industry.  I thought the SPE of bombers would eventually fall below six-pack prices.  I can't think of another consumer liquid where a larger package is more expensive per ounce than a bundle of little packages.  It's not true of soda pop, wine, liquor, bottled water, shampoo, ... you name it.

But the trend I was hoping to spot didn't continue, and now we have bomber prices -- shown in the chart -- higher than ever before, while six-pack prices fell even more than they did last time.  And not just the sale prices, but the "official" prices.  Here are the Portland Beer Price Index numbers for this quarter:
  • 6-packs: $9.16, down 7 cents
  • 22-ounce bombers: $4.88, up 4 cents
  • 6-packs (sale price): $8.61, down 15 cents
  • 22-ounce bombers (sale price): $4.71, up 5 cents
  • 16 oz. draft: $4.47 up 3 cents
  • 16 oz. draft (happy hour): $3.59, down 2 cents
What is happening here?  I think there is some healthy competition in six-packs, as breweries like 10 Barrel and Oakshire move into that area.  Ninkasi must have their six-pack pipeline flowing steadily enough that they have been able to lower their prices, and I think Caldera and Terminal Gravity are feeling price pressure since it's hard to justify the high prices they've enjoyed for a few years when the newcomers have something more interesting at a lower price.

For some reason, the bombers in the PBPI aren't feeling that heat, and Laurelwood has raised the price on their bombers by 10% this time, though most retailers have a sale price on them for now to cushion the blow.  However, there might be a bias in the bombers I've selected, because I've seen some new sale prices on other bombers that I've long considered either slightly or wildly overpriced.

Logistically, I'm starting to be troubled by HUB IPA bombers.  New Seasons appears to have dumped them in favor of HUB tallboys, and QFC has a space on the shelf for them, but no bottles and an obviously incorrect price tag ($6.30).  For this month's numbers I subbed in other HUB bombers those stores were carrying (DOA at QFC, Secession at New Seasons).  The HUB tallboys are a great innovation, especially if they can get the price closer to Ninkasi's SPE, but I may need to find a replacement for the bombers in the index (come to think of it, Gigantic IPA would make a reasonable and somewhat poetic replacement).

If you require more information on the makeup of the PBPI, read the page which describes the composition of the index.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Two More Thoughts on Jubel(ale)

First a brief note, then a great Jubelale reminiscence.


Deschutes announced earlier this week that the Portland Pub was serving Super Jubel 2012 -- the yearly double Jubelale that we were lucky enough to taste the rarely bottled 2000 and 2010 versions of at my recent 10-year vertical tasting of Jubelale.  I suspect it will be on for a few days, but it's always fun to try, so hurry in and check it out. [Update: I went in today for my yearly dose.  Vinuous (it's aged in Pinot barrels), boozy, and bitter, it's quite a treat.  But it bears little resemblance to Jubelale.]


As I was plotting that 10-year vertical late last year, a local Twitter buddy named Jason -- who I had not yet met in real life -- expressed an interest in attending it.  That worked well with my plan to select a group of people to whom such a stunt might matter, as opposed to forcing it on bewildered friends and neighbors, so of course he got an invite once I finally organized it.

While I was pretty proud of my 9-year old stash of Jubelales, and excited at the prospect of tasting 12-year-old Jubel 2000 which predates my relatively recent arrival here, Jason had an even better Jubelale story:

Attached is a photo of myself and a couple buddies in the Army.  In December, 1990, we were stuck in Saudi Arabia waiting for the Gulf War.  I had just turned 21 that summer and been shipped out to a dry country a week later.  My dad smuggled in a care package of a dozen Jubelale bombers wrapped up in sweatshirts and other cold weather gear.  Has been one of my favorites ever since.

Jubelale bombers?  Great call, Dad.  Thanks to Jason for sharing the story and picture.