Here’s How A Six-Pack Of Craft Beer Ends Up Costing $12

In general, a craft beer is always going to be more expensive than a macro beer. Part of this is due to basic ingredient cost. Craft brewers generally use more of them for a beer and don’t cut corners like replacing barley malt with rice or corn. But more than half of the cost of craft beer goes to distribution and retailer’s margins.

Distribution costs come about because of the way beer gets to a consumer in the US. Prior to Prohibition, breweries in the US followed a model similar to what are called “tied houses” in the UK. That is, the breweries owned the bars where their beer was sold and strictly controlled which beers could be served there. In the aftermath of Prohibition, a system was set up whereby breweries sold to middlemen called distributors who then move the beer to retail outlets, bars and restaurants. When craft brewing started, this made it difficult for new breweries to enter a market. They were forced to deal with distributors who saw their relatively small volumes as not worth their time and would either not bother or marginalize craft beers compared to the large volume macros. It took a while before many states passed laws that allowed craft brewers to sell their own beers at the brewery (in addition to just offering tastings). Even today, getting in with a distributor still means life or death for a craft brewery.

So visit your local craft brewery and buy their beer there. You’ll save money and give them all the profits. Win-win!

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