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May 13, 2008

Mug Shots: A fair price?

It’s hard for a business owner to patronize the same type of business without analyzing it. On the one hand, every pub owner’s visit to another pub is a potential tax deduction; on the other, it makes it hard to relax and enjoy the experience when you’re busy taking notes.Especially when you know what things actually cost.Pricing is a complicated matter for any businessman, and I won’t pretend to be an authority on it. Ultimately, all I’ve ever tried to do is make the price fair, even while acknowledging that the concept of “fairness” might take up a full semester of Philosophy 101. Certain suggestions and guidelines are passed from generation to generation, not all of which apply to what I take into consideration when pricing beer, although most are helpful in some way.Much to the relief of my long-suffering conscience, none of these involves the blatant extortion that derives from limited competition, but then again, I’m not in the sports concessionaire business, so I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it?Last week I accompanied good friends to Cincinnati to occupy seats in the lower left field stands at Great American Ball Park to watch the Reds pelt the Cubs. Near our seats was a concession stand vending Bell’s Oberon Ale at a price of $7.75 for what I judged to be a 14-ounce pour. Without giving too much away, I’ll say only that it figures out to a bit more than $900 profit (before expenses) on a regular 15.5-gallon keg of beer.And yet it could have been worse. People seated near me were paying $7 a plastic bottle for insipid domestic beer. That’s marginally more return per ounce compared with the Oberon, and for immeasurably inferior beer.Are hip flasks back in style yet?Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.