Unibroue: A new pricing strategy?

I still remember when the first release of 17 Grande Reserve hit the LCBO. At $9.95 / bottle, it was at that point one of the pricier beer offerings available. Nonetheless, for a 10%, oak aged Belgian-style ale of such high quality, the price was not prohibitive and the beer quickly sold out. When Terrible followed some time later at $10.95, people didn’t really bat an eye. But then began a weird sort of leap-frogging with each beer coming in again at a higher price than before. The problem was that as the price climbed, the impact for each release was lessened. People knew now that the beer would be coming back so there was no rush to stock up. At the same time as this the regular Unibroue offerings in the beer store were creeping towards the $15/ 6-pack range.

I recall quite vividly being in an LCBO in late spring of last year with a huge surplus of 17 bottles going at huge discount (extremely rare in the LCBO). Clearly, something had gone wrong.

Unibroue’s response has been interesting. For the beer store (of which Unibroue’s parent company Sapporo has a 2% stake in) Unibroue simply switched to 4 packs at $9.95; keeping the same price point but making it appear more attractive. I was eager to see what they would do at the LCBO. Would they go to 375ml bottles? Thus far it appears as though Unibroue is pursuing a much more aggressive strategy, placing the new La Resolution at $8.95 (which puts it below many competitors like St-Bernardus Abt. 12). And now, it appears that 17GR is coming back at its original $9.95. Makes you wonder how much of those price hikes was just the company seeing how far they could go.

For those still intent on breaking the bank, Unibroue has brought 50 6 litre “Methuselah” bottles to the Summerhill location for a cool $149 / each.

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