Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buying Rare Beer on eBay

RateBeerian G. T. Wharton has just posted an interesting article entitled "Market Behavior for Rare Beer: eBay Auction Prices in Review." The article is available here:  HopPress.

The article is well-researched and presented with clear graphics and a sparse, academic language free of jargon and emotion. The author makes the observation that the market for rare beer on eBay has some unintended consequences. For one, a new group of people is showing up at brewers' release parties. No longer the exclusive domain of beer geeks, these release parties are being attended by an increasing number of profiteers who only want to obtain bottles to sell on eBay for up to 10 times what they paid. Another: counterfeiting. Who would have thought that someone would carefully open a bottle, "remove" the contents, refill the empty bottle with something else (presumably a less rare beer of similar style), recap the bottle, and offer said refilled bottle for sale? A third: false advertising. Actually, this is pretty obvious and should be expected. The only recourse is to address false claims in the buyer's review of the seller. A seller's reputation is jealously protected, and most sellers are pretty honest. Most.

The 13-month analysis of beers bought on auction provides insights into buyer behavior and the gray market price some of these rare beers can claim.  Before reading this article, I was not aware of people spending $200, $300, even upwards of $500 per 12 oz of beer--erm, for a collectible bottle with incidental contents possibly containing alcohol .

For my part, I would rather trade collectible bottles with people I trust. Trading something of comparable value with a friend is a good way to dispose of excess inventory and obtain something difficult to acquire, while avoiding the risks associated with online auctions.

Of course, there is always the risk that your shipper will not buy the claim that the box contains only  collectible bottles....