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On Beer Budgets, the Economy, and the Most Expensive Beer Dinner I’ve Yet Seen…

I’ve been off writing my book for the better part of the last two months so generally have not been engaged in the beer scene or frankly much of anything. So when I finished the first draft today, I turned on the local Boston evening news and caught a segment on the success of craft beers. As a sign of the fading glory of local news, the story profiled the success of the Goose Island brewery in Chicago (why bother sending out your own camera and reporting crew when you can simply buy packages from other markets, right?), in a story that I have to believe simply picked up on the reporting done by the Chicago Tribune in this recent lengthy article. Overall, both pieces were good exposure for Goose Island and craft breweries in general, minus the lame “beer budget” and “let’s find out what’s on tap” lead ins to the television piece.

On the other end of the spectrum, I received a press release via Facebook in regards to an upcoming beer dinner that Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery is hosting at celebrity chef Thomas Keller’s Per Se restaurant in Manhattan. While the event is part of New York City’s Beer Week, it was not so much the menu but the price tag of $350 that caught my eye. On the back of the recent Ebenezer’s dinner that ran $250 for some pretty sick offerings, I thought this was a whole new level of ridiculousness. Would be interesting to be a fly on the wall at the Per Se dinner just to see who pays that kind of money to attend such an event.

Brooklyn Brewery’s Manhattan Project

“Ragoût” of Black Winter Truffle

Brooklyn Brewery “Local 2,? New York

Sautéed Squash, Heirloom Tomatoes, Fino Verde Basil and Castello di Ama Extra Virgin Olive Oil Emulsion

Brooklyn Brewery “Sorachi Ace,? New York

Confit of Fennel Bulb, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Niçoise Olive Tapenade and “Mousseline au Citron”

Brooklyn Brewery “Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse,? New York

“Choucroute Garnie”

Brooklyn Brewery “Local 1,? New York

Smoked Bone Marrow “Pain Perdu,” Creamed Arugula,
Trumpet Royale Mushroom and “Sauce Bordelaise”

Brooklyn Brewery “Reinschweinsgebot,? New York

Celeriac Rémoulade, Compressed Granny Smith Apple, Mustard Cress and Green Apple Mustard

Brooklyn Brewery “Wild 1,? New York

Dark Chocolate Mud Cake, Liquid Caramel, Chocolate “Crémeux”
and Caramel Parfait with Sassafras Ice Cream

Brooklyn Brewery “Black Ops,? New York


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11 thoughts on “On Beer Budgets, the Economy, and the Most Expensive Beer Dinner I’ve Yet Seen…

  1. Not one of those “just a regular beer.”

    Keller, of course, started in wine country. Where wineries who charge (or did until a year ago) hundreds of dollars for bottles of wine will soon be in the midst of crush, serving beer to workers at the end of a long day. Plenty of “regular stuff.” Does anybody else see a disconnect?

    But at least now I know what to sever with smoked bone marrow.

  2. That is an absurd price and sure proof that there is a sucker born every minute. They may not be regular beers, Stan, but in any reasonable market you could pay 25 to 40 bucks tops for 12 oz bottles of these or equivalent beers.

    So, what is the extra 310 to 325 for? Much is for exclusivity, that great anti-beer force in the universe.

  3. I must have been spoiled by my access to Rainbow Swiss Chard, Sautéed Squash, Heirloom Tomatoes, Fino Verde Basil, Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster having had a garden near the Atlantic for years and clients who paid in seafood.

  4. IIRC Goose Island isn’t considered a craft brewer by the BA, but it is by everyone else.

    With all due respect, I would rather have pizza with my beer. I don’t feel comfortable in fancy restaurants, and I suppose I’d have to wear a tie, and even long pants.

    They took us to a 3-star restaurant in Brugge once on a press trip to Belgium. It took the entire evening to eat this meal, and nary a beer in site. But I digress. (I miss hearing those words.)

  5. Given that the set price for a meal at Per Se is $275 (without alcohol!), $350 with beer and entertainment from Garrett isn’t as outrageous as it might seem.

    Not that any of us could afford it, but you’ve got to remember that we’re supposedly talking about one of the finest dining establishments in the US, perhaps the world. No doubt there are many people in NYC who wouldn’t blink twice at dropping that much money on dinner. I’ll bet that once wine is included, the average bill at Per Se is far north of $350.

  6. Pretending that a flat bottle of Angel’s Share is world-class beer, $30.

    Scoring a bottle of beer from a brewery whose name has too many umlauts to pronounce while ignoring a $9 six pack of locally brewed beer that tastes similar, $45

    Beer dinner at fancy pants restaurant with celebrity chef and brewer, $350

    The feeling of pretentiousness knowing that no beer geek can outsnob you – priceless.

    Oh wow, there’s a shark in that tank down there.

  7. “Given that the set price for a meal at Per Se is $275 (without alcohol!), $350 with beer and entertainment from Garrett isn’t as outrageous as it might seem.”

    So who would have thought 10 years ago (or 3) that anybody would spending $75 on beer to go with an meal shouldn’t make you scratch your head?

  8. In retrospect, I’m not sure I meant to write “ridiculousness” in a judgmental manner, but instead was saying look at this new crazy level we’ve achieved. I can make no judgment as to the value or quality of the event as I’ve never eaten at Per Se or tried most of these Brooklyn offerings. I personally wouldn’t pay that amount of money for nearly any meal, after paying close to it on an occasion or two. I balance it against the amount of time I would have to spend working versus the value I could get by expending a lesser sum for something I would also greatly enjoy and I can’t personally justify it. Would be interested in hearing from anyone who attended but I’m guessing the fat pocket folks who RSVP’d likely don’t read beer blogs…

    Best and see some of you kids in Denver,


  9. “So who would have thought 10 years ago (or 3) that anybody would spending $75 on beer to go with an meal shouldn’t make you scratch your head?”

    The price of the whole event is enough to make one short of breath. My point, perhaps not well written, is that for an establishment in the stratosphere like Per Se, $75 for drinks is pretty damn cheap (and that’s for 7 beers).

    Take a look at their wine list if you want to to gasp. Most single glasses $15-$30, majority of wines $100+, even a wine over $8000 a bottle! After 50 pages of wine, we’re left with only 7 beers. Not a bad selection, but what a markup!

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