Thursday, 8 September 2011

'Beer's Black Market'

The estimable Washington Post has shone its investigative light on the sordid secondary market for spooge beer. Read the whole thing here. Woodward and Bernstein would be proud.

Of course, readers of my own estimable (?) e-organ would have picked up on this dark and unseemly activity in posts past. The Post's article is interesting in including views from such tickerific brewers as Lost Abbey, The Bruery and Stone. Greg Koch offers an interesting view, which I tend to agree with, that it isn't necessarily drinkability that drives this market, it's rarity. Hence RRBC's Framboise For The Cure going at $400 a bottle, and not a penny of that profit finding its way to the charity intended to benefit from its sale. Yet, if RRBC had offered it at double its original $12 price, they'd have been slaughtered by the same tickers for hyping the price.

I've been monstered for criticising the beer fanboy websites which offer trading forums driving some of this secondary market. Many of their members believe that it would all stop if these brewers bucked their ideas up and geared up to meet all demand. It doesn't seem to occur to them that not all brewers are in it for reasons other than global market domination. They simply can't accept they might miss a beer, and move on. I've been there and, trust me, it's not a happy place.

It will be interesting to see how ebay responds to this. Will they stop sales of 'collectible containers' (wink wink)? Police the listings looking for newly-released beers? I imagine their present ambivalence is partly driven by the easy money they rake off from this spooge. I expect the traders will find other ways to knock their spooge out - I believe Craigslist is used for this market, including to recruit mules for people who can't get to launch events. I'll be watching the reaction to this with interest...

(By the way, anybody interested in a 2005 Dark Lord?)

10 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

It's not a black market, it's a secondary market.

Sid Boggle said...

I knew you'd say that, Cookie... ;-)

Barm said...

The people selling beer on don't have a license to retail alcohol, so it's a black market.

rapopoda said...

Indeed. Wine has a LEGAL secondary market: Auction Houses, Charity Auctions etc. One might want to make the argument that beer should have a legal secondary market. I however, would say that would be foolish. Virtually all of the wine that has a place on the secondary market possess CONSIDERABLY more longevity than any beer out there. Beer designed to age, is designed to do so on the order of years. Wine on the order of decades, perhaps longer. For such wines (which is a small % of wine production) such aging give significant improvement; if stored correctly.
Moreover, the legal secondary markets for wine do much to ensure provenance. And whilst that can't always be guaranteed, and fraud can be a problem, for the most part such investigations work quite well.
The average beer ticker is only interested in what is cool now, now now. THe average buyer of wine (collector?) on the secondary markets is interested in timelessness and drinking for the long run

Rabidbarfly said...

It's not a black market it's a hoppy porter market...

Sid Boggle said...

Long days taking their toll, Glyn... 8-)

Rabidbarfly said...

More than I'll ever admit....

Cooking Lager said...

Since the substance is legal & tax has been paid & no criminality is involved, maybe it's the grey market as transactions are informal & unrecorded. But black market my @rse.

rapopoda said...

No. It's illegal. At least here in the states which is where the activity in question is taking place

Sid Boggle said...

Which is presumably why ebay permits sale of 'collectible containers' with 'incidental contents'