Average price of a pint of U.S. beer?
May 7, 2008 10:46 AM   Subscribe

What is the average price of a pint of beer in the U.S. in 2008? What was it 10 years ago?

We're running a story in the newspaper where I work on how the increased costs of hops is driving up beer prices locally. Sad news, I know.

So, does anyone have a source for what the average beer price is nationwide in the U.S.? I've been to www.pintprice.com, which has it at $4.05.

Naturally, I'm aware there's numerous factors that go into beer costs, like region, tax, happy hour discounts etc., but I'd settle for a good estimate that's attributed to a reputable source.
posted by Gagglehack to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I were the reporter on this story, I'd contact major breweries, like AB, because I'm sure that they've done the market research and someone will likely be happy to talk to you about market effects. That and a couple discussions with distributors and local bar owners.

Aside from that, it may be time to call a librarian.
posted by klangklangston at 10:59 AM on May 7, 2008

Just read a slightly disturbing NPR piece along the same lines, you might be interested.

$4.05 sounds about right. Unless you're in NYC, then just add another 0 and move the decimal point one spot right.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2008

I don't have an actual answer about the price of a pint, but you might also try contacting local homebrew supply stores about this; I was just over at this shop in Queens the other day, and they had a sign up, apologizing for the recent rising price of hops. They were real friendly; they or some other store may be able to break down their hop-costs by raw numbers.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2008

I've heard that the price of a 6 of craft brew could go up $1 - $2 as a result of the hops crisis. I'm not sure how this affects the price at the bar.

posted by grateful at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2008

Here in NYC, it's $4 to $7 most places. But I've been charged $9 for a bottle of Heineken (sigh), and it varies from one side of the street to the other.
posted by zvs at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2008

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has loads of consumer price info for many items including food for many years back. It can be hard to find just what you need and can be harder to even ask the right question.

I just looked and it was telling me that the average price for 16 oz (all malt beverages) in March was $1.17. So uhhh, clearly I can't have asked the right question. That's even lower than Natural Light on draught at the worst dive bar imaginable.

But I think it's a good place to be looking for consistently comparative data over time, especially if you can find some kind of rosetta stone that converts their figures into real world figures. Go poke around in there.
posted by Askr at 11:25 AM on May 7, 2008

When I worked on a beer account at my ad agency, we went mainly to two sources for industry information: Beer Marketer's Insights and Beer Business Daily. Both are small outfits, but are very well connected to the brewers and the distributors - they have great information.
posted by anthropoid at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2008

I second the $1 - $2 increase for microbrewery beer, with pints starting to reach the $6 level in some places (Rochester, NY). It's tougher to measure for the major breweries since they almost always have some special going.

Hops for homebrewing seem to have simultaneously gotten more expensive and less plentiful. I've purchased some rhizomes for growing my own, if the literature is correct I should be swimming in hop cones by Summer's end.
posted by tommasz at 11:32 AM on May 7, 2008

Hey wait maybe those are percentages in decimal form. By definition a price index measures change, so maybe those aren't dollar figures. So if there were a way to figure out a base price in a particular time, and you could figure out (if those are percentages) what the measurements are measuring - e.g. change from previous month or change from year-end or whatevs, you'd have good info on precisely how it has changed in 10 years.
posted by Askr at 11:32 AM on May 7, 2008

Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud had an hour-long show featuring local brewers and hop distributors on the subject of the coming increase in prices and its hows and whys. Download it here. I don't recall if they address historic price trends, but it could be a good source regardless.
posted by mumkin at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2008

If you're asking how much we pay for a pint today it is $5.00 or $6.00 for craft brews, 4.50 for other draughts, and as low as $2.75 for a PBR draughts. I honestly can't recall what it was 10 years ago, but the prices above are increases from only a few months ago. Every beer went up .50
Also 6-packs have on average gone up 1.50. A 6 of Sam Adams used to cost $6.49 to $7.00 now it is $7.99 to $8.50
posted by Gungho at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2008

I'm paying anywhere from 4.00 to 5.00 for a pint here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:47 PM on May 7, 2008

It varies a lot, depending on city size. Small towns might have lame beer like Bud and Miller Lite for a couple of dollars, and at the other end of the scale, in large cities, microbrews and imports could go for around 7-9 dollars. Also, states' sales tax rates vary.
posted by zardoz at 9:10 PM on May 7, 2008

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