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November 28, 2003

Cheap Beer

Well, relatively cheap.

Since we're at the in-laws in Rock Hill for at least some part of the Thanksgiving weekend, having driven here last night after dining with the Maenads, I stopped by Brawley's Beverage in Charlotte to pick up a couple of bottles of lambic for the upcoming neighborhood Christmas party.

Yes, I realize that other beers would be more appropriate for a winter celebration; The Samuel Smith's 2004 Winter Welcome Ale, for instance, or the Mahr's Christmas Bock. I would take one of those, were I going to a party with attendees more familiar with the genre.

But they are not. I've always thought lambics are a good introduction to what beer can be, instead of what most Americans think it is, so they are party-bound by default.

I priced the bottles a couple of weeks ago, during my first visit to Brawley's, and was very pleased--so pleased, in fact, that I feared there would be none left today. I use the Lindeman's lambics as shorthand for a couple of things. For one, their brews appear to be the most widespread Belgian beer aside from Hoegaarden in the Southeast--certainly it's the most widespread lambic, so it should be easy to find. A beer store without a Lindeman's is almost certainly not going to have much else in the way of interest. Secondly, the price of one can be used as a shorthand for the cost of the rest of the beer in the shop.

For instance, the last Whole Foods I patronized priced a 330ml bottle at $9.49, which is hellaciously expensive unless one happens to be in New York, where a bottle can go for upwards of thirteen dollars. At Harris Teeter, on the other hand, one can take a 330ml Lindemans home for $5.99. You can get one for the same price at Total Wines. For the 330ml, Frugal MacDougals has the best price I've seen at $5.49, making that store the cheapest of the big boys.

Liquid Solutions prices them at $6.05 per 330ml. Internet wines offers the same size for $6.25. The Beer Geek will sell you one for $5.99, but shipping from all three online shops runs at something around a dollar per bottle, so the price per bottle there is misleading.

Brawley's is the hands down champion, though, offering the harder to find 750 milliliter bottles for just $7.99. Total Wines comes close, pricing their 750ml lambics at $8.99. Both of those are jaw-dropping low prices for the big Lindeman's, running 4 to 8 dollars less than what other stores charge. The other beer store in southern Charlotte (all are within a mile of each other, which is extremely convenient for me, if a bit nerve-racking for the owners of the shops), Mike's Discount Beverages, doesn't sell the 750ml bottles. You can pick up the 330ml for $7.99--comparable to most normal stores, but an almost certain loser in the area they happen to be in.

Posted by Bigwig at November 28, 2003 06:08 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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supplemental link:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pvosta/pcrbier1.htm

Posted by: dof at November 30, 2003 05:30 AM
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