Last night, my household had a fire in the pit in the backyard—a regular occurrence when the weather permits—and my housemate S, working on a large pot of chili for dinner, asked me to do some beer shopping on her behalf. She wanted cheap beer to serve, which was fine by me. There is a time and a place for cheap beer, and standing around a fire in the dark, drinking spicy chili, is one of those times.
The local market has all manner of those beers. They carry Olympia and Rainier, which aren’t great beers but carry a certain nostalgia for me. I went to high school downwind of the Olympia Brewery, and growing up in the Pacific Northwest meant regular exposure to the quirky and creative television ads that Rainier ran through the ’80s. Both breweries were shuttered after Pabst sold them to Miller in the late ’90s (though Pabst still own both brands).
It struck me, though, that there was an option that might prove more satisfying than either of my erstwhile local beers. Tecate did surprisingly well in our blind tastings for The Beer Trials, garnering a very solid 7 (out of 10). It’s a beer with a dodgy reputation, which is certainly not helped by the packaging. Here’s what I wrote in the book about the design:
Everything about this can screams “Warning! Cheap beer inside!” which doesn’t really do the product justice. On the upside, the beer is cheap. If they had a nicer package, it might cost more.
However, when I eventually located the half-rack of Tecate, I found it priced at some 40% more than the rest of the comparable pale lagers. Tecate was more expensive than Full Sail Session Lager. I was flummoxed. Considering my housemate’s budget, I reversed gears and bought the Rainier. Which worked fine.
What happened, I wondered to my housemates? Did I misremember the price of the stuff? The pricing indicators in the book are largely based on prices we actually paid, and poking around on the internet it appears that my surprise was warranted. Were they jacking up the prices in anticipation of of Cinco de Mayo sales?
Or perhaps, suggested my housemates, they’ve read the book. Maybe it’s your fault the stuff is so expensive.