What It’s Worth: Rare Bourbon County Stout

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What It’s Worth: Rare Bourbon County Stout

By Chris Quinn


What is a beer worth? This is a question that gets raised increasingly more often as craft beer continues its meteoric growth. Is it simply the sum of its parts, no more than the combined costs of the raw materials, packaging, labor, plus a little something, you know, for the effort? Or is it something that, when done well, should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the finest fermented beverages from Piedmont and Bordeaux? In short, we don’t know.


So, as we [Beer Temple Insiders Roundtable] look for the answer to this question, we believe it is important to first inform ourselves on how beer arrives at its commodity pricing before we begin to divorce from it and enter a pricing model that takes intangible things (rarity, exclusivity, brand recognition) into account.


For the subject of our experiment, we chose Goose Island’s Rare Bourbon County Stout, which was recently re-released with much anticipation after a five-year hiatus. Derived from 35-year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, Rare brings much trepidation with its $60 price tag for a single 16.9-ounce bottle. What went into pricing this beer, or for that matter, any beer?


We received insight from experts in many fields to arrive at the numbers below. Some were hard numbers, some were very educated estimates, and some were pieced together through context clues. What we have is by no means the exact cost but our best estimate, which we wholeheartedly stand behind. We have decided not to include “soft costs” such as advertising and marketing campaigns, which, in addition to being impossible to accurately determine, is separate from what the beer actually is and cost to make. You can easily spend tens of millions of dollars on some of the cheapest beers in the world, as any time spent in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon will quickly prove.


The chart below is not only an attempt to determine what the costs of a craft beer are, but what values talent, knowledge, and expertise have as well. Craft beer has long differentiated itself from other alcoholic beverages not only through flavor but also through a guiding ethos of community. In keeping with this tradition, and the unspoken trust between producer, purveyor, and consumer that goes along with it, we felt that the findings of this experiment should be shared with all beer lovers so that we can all learn from it, and hopefully come a few steps closer to finding our own answer to the question “What is a beer worth?”


A note about opportunity cost: As a public company, AB InBev has a responsibility to its shareholders. Whether that is maximizing profits, maximizing shareholder value, setting up the company for future growth, or anything else, AB InBev needs to do what is in the best interest of their company.  Even if brewing Rare is not the most profitable use of all of AB InBev’s resources, they have made the decision that it is in the best interest of the company and therefore we have decided that opportunity costs should not come into pay when evaluating Rare.

Overall Costs

Packaging: $8.72

Rent: $0.24

Utilities: $0.12

Liquid: $1.30

Warehouse improvements, storage tanks, transportation: $0.05

Labor: $0.70

5% Misc.: $0.56

Total: $11.69




Glass bottle:              $0.50

Label:                         $0.05

Crown cap:                $0.02

Box:                            $8.00

Total:                           $8.57



Barley/Hops:             $0.49

Yeast:                         $0.20

Barrel:                         $0.59

Water:                                    $0.02

Total:                           $1.30



December 2015
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