The point is not whether six bottles of Westvleteren XII and a couple of glasses is worth $85. That’s $5 more than it costs for a National Parks annual pass.1 Pretty easy to tell which of those is a better buy.
The point is not whether it is the World’s Best Beer.2
It’s not that a story on NPR (if you are shaking your head at this point, wondering what I’m rambling on about, that’s a good place to start) has drawn more than 100 comments.
Of course, I can’t perfectly describe the point. If there is one, I do think context is involved. When you get the right bottle, it’s an amazing beer. At that moment, particularly if you are seated in the In de Verde cafe beside the monastery, it is hard to imagine a beer being better.
It’s that good in West Flanders because of the context. It can be elsewhere as well. Although Patrick Emerson provides perspective of value from the point of view of an economist, he also puts it in very human terms: “So is Westvleteren 12 worth $85 for six? Well that is for you to decide, for some it will not be and for others it will. This will be a function of how much enjoyment you’ll get from drinking it, how much you cherish the opportunity to try it and your ability to pay for it (among other things).”
And when you are in Toledo, Spain, there may be no context. That’s where the picture at the top was taken in August (I think I posted it on Twitter). The package was €50 (about $63 at the time).
It might still be sitting there.
1 Unless you are 62 years old. Then it costs $10 for a pass that lasts as long as you do.
2 There is no such thing.