An ironic title but one that I will illustrates provides an appropriative narrative when describing how government regulation reduces choice and increases price. As I previously stated, I escaped California and moved to Pennsylvania last summer. Almost all of my costs went down except for one, alcohol. And since my alcohol of choice is beer, I am struggling. Well not really since I'm saving multiple times on everything else but I want to illustrate the impact of government limited supply on society.
Today was the annual release of Bell's Brewery's Hopslam Imperial IPA. This apparently is IPA ambrosia because it sold out of the Whole Foods near me in an hour, around mid-day. I have a job that's more than 10 minutes away so I missed out, and I was, was disappointed. Then I thought about it. These tools at Bell's are limiting supply in PA so to drive the price up. And it turns out a pizza bar across the street was purchasing the bottles at Whole Food's and then selling them for 3x the original cost. Good for them, I guess. But is Bell's any better than Dogfish Head's 90 Minute, Lagunitas Brewery's Maximus or Sucks, or Stone's Ruination? I have no idea because Bell's doesn't produce enough for me to try. But the response here in South Eastern PA is strange. Does any Imperial IPA deserve a 3x premium? I'm not sure. I mean the gold standard for Imperial IPA is Pliney the Elder from Russian River Brewery which is number 2 on Beer Advocate's Imperial rating, and yet that was available every Wednesday in California for just $4.50 a bottle. If they sold it hear at the extremely limited outlets I'm pretty sure it would command $10 a bottle because there are few vendors providing it. On the other hand Lagunitas Maximus and Dogfish Head 90 Minute are available every day of the year. So is Hopslam any better? I don't know because the snobs don't produce enough. But what strikes me as odd is the reaction here. Folks storming the Whole Foods for a mythical beer that one person of knowledge, having tasted it, says is totally not worth it. I wonder if we aren't seeing a glimpse of blue jeans demand in Czechoslovakia circa 1987? Are we witnessing a minor example of how government regulation creates absurd demand that enriches a few but otherwise doesn't supply the most profitable result? Isn't it ironic that in terms of fantastic beer sales, California, an otherwise socialist state, provides?
Who knows? But one thing is for sure, I have no interest in Bell's Hopslam or any Bell's beer. Their's is an exclusive crowd that is capable of shopping for beer at 1PM on a Thursday and I wish them all the best, and won't get in the way by purchasing any of their offerings going forward.