I like good beer. In fact, I'd say I love good beer. I read it, drink it, brew it and write it. I cook with it, think about it, talk about it, and probably even dream about it. If there is something that can be done with beer, chances are I want to do it and do it often.
But you know what brewers of the world? I don't like beer so much that I'm willing to spend $40-$70 to attend one of your events. I can't. At least not on any kind of regular basis. There are so many appealing events that happen on almost a bi-weekly basis that I pass on simply because I can't justify spending that much money. I want to go drink the beer. I want to go eat the food you're pairing it with. I want to inject myself into the beer geek culture and talk shop with fellow lovers of the libation. But damn, I'm not doing it at the prices you're asking. And as an old school fellow who likes to pay for his date (especially dates that are 51+% for my enjoyment) I really can't afford to attend these events. And that my friends, SUCKS.
$40 for 6 drink tokens in which the pours are 2 ounces? Yeah, that's a ripoff. I want to enjoy your beer, not pretend that the beer is mouthwash. I know we don't want beer events to turn into shit shows, but give me what I paid for. If I paid to drink beer, let me drink it and be responsible enough to know when to quit. And for those of us who aren't smart enough to figure it out, step in and stop serving us. Don't use the excuse of potential excess as a way to overcharge us and give us communion sized sips.
A 5-course meal with 5 paired beers for $70? Sure, I get the price in this case, especially when you're serving quality pieces of meat and seafood, but why must every single pairing be one of these uber-fancy events with Kobe beef illegally shipped in from Japan? I'm not knocking the idea of an elevated beer pairing dinner. I'd just like to see more dinners offered that are much more affordable. If you're looking to show the consumers of beer how your product can be elevated when paired, why not do so with products that are more likely to show up in the everyday household kitchen. I want to be wowed by food and love the idea of the occasional night out where you go a little overboard, but I also want to be taught approachable ways to use beer in cooking as well as with pairing. Cook me an elevated grilled cheese and tomato soup, pair it with a beer, and then don't charge me $18,000 for it. That's all I want. Because when all is said and done, I want to have enough money to try and recreate what you taught me at home. And at the very least I'd like to be able to afford the 6-pack of an excellent new beer I just tasted.
Who are these events aimed at? Only the most well off, enthusiastic of us? You're not going to find very many people who like beer more than someone like me but every time you put these outrageous price tags on your special events I'm almost excluded by default. If I feel that way, someone who loves beer so much that they take time out of their life to write about it, then how many other people who are just waiting to discover all that good beer has to offer are being left behind? I'd love to be able to talk to a friend who doesn't know good beer just yet and say "Hey, there is an event going on next week. There's going to be craft beer and food. It should be a good time. You down?" And when they ask what the price is, I'd like to be able to look them in the eye and know they are taking me seriously when I relay the price. Nobody who is new to craft beer is going to pay $70 to taste things they aren't sure about. It's great to reward your core consumer with these kind of events, but gatherings that help bring along some new blood into beer culture would be nice as well.
In the end, I'm not saying that any of these upper echelon events need to stop. They don't. They have their place and I'm glad they exist. I just hate seeing them as the standard for what every beer event should be. Mix in something a little more affordable so that newbies and the non-millionaire drinker can work in a night out celebrating good beer a little more often. It's not too much to ask.