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The wages of microbrewing

It’s no longer all that unusual to see single bottles listed for over $65 not only on restaurant menus, but in certain bars, too. But perhaps the best evidence that craft beer has gone completely haute is something even the savviest consumers might find surprising: a black market.

All of the factors that motivate black markets — scarce supply, high demand, and people willing to skirt the rules to make a buck — are present in the case of craft beer.

The frenzy is fed by brewers who have elevated their practices to new heights of technical sophistication and an audience willing to fork out incredible amounts of money for small-run beers. The obsessive rankings of crowdsourced beer websites like RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com may look like democracy at work, but the new national beer scene offers proof that the wisdom of crowds can sometimes spill over into collective insanity.

Having covered the craft beer industry worldwide since the 1990s, I thought I’d seen it all — but then I saw beer’s black market in action. At New York’s Blind Tiger bar one late afternoon last March, a slight, unsmiling young man in a dark windbreaker ordered several pints of beer from the bar, transferred them one by one to a canteen, then slipped away.

“He’s going straight home to resell that on eBay,” muttered a patron standing nearby. The perishable beer in question was brewed by Shaun Hill at Hill Farmstead brewery in Vermont, which is currently rated the sixth best brewery in the world by the users of RateBeer…..

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And at home….

South Africans don’t have a beer culture. They have a light lager culture. However, an upsurge in craft brewing is rapidly changing this. A snapshot of just some of the websites now devoted to local craft beer.

  1. Jozi Craft Beer Fest | The best of the Craft Beer family

    jozicraftbeerfest.co.za/
    Come enjoy the best of South African craft beer in the heart of Jozi. Come down to the second installment of the JOZI CRAFT BEER FEST! Venue: Marks Park …
  2. www.capetownmagazine.com/real-beer
    An overview of breweries that produce craft beers in Cape Town, South Africa. … Craft beer is made using traditional brewing methods, which result in distinctive …
  3. www.brewmasters.co.za/
    Beer Events. Gather round! Beer is brewed to be enjoyed amongst friends and in groups. Check out our listings for all the beer events in South Africa.
  4. www.bostonbreweries.co.za/login.html
    Get Connected! Connect and expand your network; View profiles and add new friends; Share your photos and videos; Create your own group or join others …
  5. saontap.co.za/
    Celebrate the best that South African Craft Breweries have to offer. Join SA on Tap for a one day festival at the Brightwater Commons on 4th August 2012 for a …
  6. www.leagueofbeers.com › More About Craft Beer
    online beer store, buy beer online, buy craft beer online, buy south african craft … The League of Beers is the premium e-retailer of craft beers in South Africa, …
  7. www.brewcraft.co.za/
    Welcome to Brewcraft South Africa, makers of the world’s finest craft brewing products.Brewcraft South Africa supply a wide range of beer and still Spirit kits that …
  8. www.thecraftbeerproject.co.za/
    What isn’t craft beer? There’s a question that raises its head in the beer world a lot, especially in South Africa. It’s been touched on in blog posts by Gallow’s Hill …

 

 

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