Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beer Economics 101, save the Tree

In a previous post I lamented the fact that we live in a region that produces wine and yet that wine is less affordable than imported products. Today I'm going to delve into the Economics of Beer and how the same situation occurs, with the exception of one enlightened Okanagan producer .

I am a beer drinker, first and foremost, I am the son of a beer drinker and beer was a way of life growing up. It is still the first beverage I have when I come home from work and generally my companion while preparing food. When I was younger and often drank just for the sake of doing so I even had a "beer number system", it went like this:

A beer, or one beer, was two beer

A couple was 3-4

A few was 5-7

More than 7 was "a bunch", as in "I don't feel great today, I had a bunch of beers last night".

I realize that the plural of beer is beer but within the common lexicon the use of beers is perfectly acceptable, and anyone who says otherwise is probably suspect and definitely not a beer drinker

I no longer drink for sport and now when I say I had one beer that's exactly what I mean, but there is the issue of portion size and that's where the economics come in. The Canadian industry standard for beer is 355ml, this is because in the pre-metric days a standard unit was 12 ounces, but 355ml is a sham. No self respecting beer drinker is satisfied with 355ml of beer, it's just not enough so what happens is that two beer are needed. The least expensive Canadian beer in the marketplace is currently regularly retailing at $7.55 per six pack, or $1.26 per unit but since 2 units are required for satisfaction the real beer drinker is paying $2.52 per ABCU or "appropriate beer consumption unit".

Now outside of North America, and even in some enlightened areas within it, it is generally accepted that an ABCU is 500ml, roughly 16 ounces. In British Columbia the consumer has a vast selection of imported beer that retails in 500ml packages for much less than the $2.52 required to make up a domestic APCU so once again we are faced with the necessity of drinking imported product.

But all is not lost, up in Kelowna there exists a very good local brewery that has seen the folly of the 355ml package and now produces three very good distinctive beer in 500ml cans and all for lass than $2.52. These visionaries are Tree Brewing and they deserve our support.

Tree produces three products in 500ml cans, a Pilsner, an Amber Ale and an absolutely outstanding Pale Ale all of which have excellent distribution and all better than the mass produced beer from Molson/Labatt/Pacific Western whatever. So do yourself, and your wallet and your local economy, a favour and seek out the fine family of 500ml Tree Brewing products.

You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Off to the Okanagan

What's better than friends with benefits ?

How about friends with cottage .

Once again we have been gifted a week at our friends' cottage in Summerland. and the timing is perfect. After a slow start summer appears to have landed on the west coast with a vengeance and the hot weather means scores of patio diners and late nights with accompanying frustrations. I'm not going to get into the dynamics of doing 350 covers in a restaurant with a kitchen designed to do 150 covers but suffice to say that we all earn our money in the dog days, so the opportunity to slip away for a while is blissful.

Sadly our trip does not coincide with the R's annual stint in Penticton and daughter's BFF is unavailable to join us as she is in horse camp next week so it will just be the three of us, but that's okay. Lots of trips to the beach, maybe some exploring further south in the valley, copious consumption of ice cream and our continuing viewing of the Harry Potter saga will keep us active.

I plan a couple of winery visits but am unlikely to bring much home, the price points on BC wines still don't make sense to me, and I'm hoping the German butcher on highway 97 is still there. Last summer he was talking about closing shop but his organic meats, wild game and house made sausages will be sorely missed if he has, in fact, pulled the plug.

With the cooler summer I'm not sure what will be in season when we arrive, maybe cherries will still be around along with apricots and peaches, regardless there's always lots of fresh fruit on the table along with farm fresh veg and the grill gets used pretty much every night. Grandma and Granddad are in Kelowna so we'll see them a couple of times but mostly it'll just be chill, and that's just fine.