Learn one of the world's greatest games

The brewhouse at Docks Beers

Having known each other for 25 years now, Robbie and I's relationship is filled with idiosyncrasies.

One of those random, but much-cherished, peculiarities is a game we lovingly refer to as "How much? $@*£ off!" (Pardon our language.)

The premise is simple: one person spots an item that is (seemingly) ludicrously over-priced and contacts the other, who then tries to guess the cost of it.

The thing is, there's a twist. Because we know there's going to be a whopping price tag attached, the guessing quickly becomes an effort to rationalise the item as being as cheap as possible (deliberately distorting everything you can as you go on). It all gets very silly.

Here's a genuine example of a recent game (which we did over WhatsApp, hence the transcript):

Mike: So... I bought 2.5l of paint. It's a very flash brand of paint but still a pretty small tin. How much, you think?

Robbie: Well, Mike, paint is famously cheap. It's everywhere. Kids even get it free on the front of magazines. OK, there's the metal tin, but again that's not expensive and it's probably come from recycled products, so arguably that makes it more or less free. I'd say for 2.5l you'd be looking at £2. Something like that?

Mike: To be fair, I did have to get them to mix it up for me.

Robbie: Mix it up? You mean it wasn't even ready for you? They made you wait and waste your valuable time? That's even worse. £1.50 then.

Mike: So Robbie, you'd think that, for this small tin of paint (because I clearly did not pay attention or read the label before they mixed it up) paying... wait for it... £70 was a little too much?

Robbie: How much? ^*$£ off! That is crazy, what did they mix it with, caviar? Where did you buy it?

Mike: The local paint shop.

Robbie: Is that the one with the golden Ferrari outside?

And so it goes on. Great fun. Can't recommend it enough.

Now, the reason I'm telling you this is not solely because we'd love to see 'How much? *£&@ off!" become a global phenomenon.

I also use it as a thinly-veiled segueway into the subject of craft beer prices.

All hands on deck

It's no great revelation that craft beer is considerably more expensive than your average can of Carling, Fosters or suchlike.

Valencian Tip Run (VTR) has a pricetag of £4.10 for a 440ml can. Since we are trying to be as transparent as possible about everything we do at Bin Day Brewing Co – I thought it might be interesting to explain what lies behind that cost. (Incidentally, you can watch a film that shows how we made it on Robbie's YouTube channel.)

Firstly, this is a premium product. A huge amount of thought, care and man hours went  into making our IPA baby. Concocting the recipe involved around two full working days alone, when you take into account all the hours the Bin Day and Docks teams put in.

Personnel-wise (aside from Robbie and I's time spent discussing this, driving up and down to Grimsby, setting up websites, business planning, making content, etc etc etc) the beer had two experienced brewers involved – Mike and Lewis – as well as lots of input from owners Will and Shaz, and many many chats with Jack and his marketing team.

Then there's the lovely Docks staff involved via the warehouse, tap room, delivery, fulfillment, and so much more (without whom the brewery couldn't run and we couldn't make VTR).

Mike and Mike

Fancy a brew?

Making the beer itself requires a lot of resources. Have you boiled a kettle for a cup of tea recently? Well, for VTR we needed to heat 6000l of water ready for the brew then bring around 2500l of the resulting beer to the boil to sterilise it.

Incidentally, the massive, shiny steel tuns and tanks that the beer is brewed, fermented, and conditioned in, required hundreds of thousands of pounds of capital investment by Docks (and which can only get paid off by the profits from the brewery).

Once the brew was complete, the beer sat in a tank for two weeks to ferment and condition. There it was constantly monitored, before samples were sent to a lab to test the beer, confirm how strong it was, and that it was fit for human consumption.

Once the beer passes the lab tests, it has to be sent off to a canning plant, where around 15% of the beer can be lost as a natural result of the canning process.

Every drop that goes down the plug makes it more difficult to recoup the cost of making it in the first place.

What's in a name?

While all this is going on, we're having hour after hour of discussions about the beer branding. What's it going to be called? What is the can going to look like? What size should the can be? (We went for 440ml over 330ml).

It's crucial to get this right or people won't buy it.

The ideas we settle on are then sent off to a design agency, which brings the can label to life. This is followed by several rounds of changes to make sure it's perfect.

Oh God, this is making my head hurt. There's so much more. Sack after sack of malted barley, wheat and oats. Four different kinds of hops. CO2 to carbonate the beer. Cold storage to keep the beer under 8C for optimum quality. Packaging and wrapping costs.

We then have beer duty to pay and VAT. Depending on the payment method, there's a charge for every transaction (e.g. Paypal takes 1.4% + 20p transcation fee per transaction.)

I'm sure there's loads I've left out, but I hope I've given a sense of why Valencian Tip Run is £4.10 a can and why you could never play "How much? $*@^ off!" with it.

In fact, I recommend you try the opposite version of the game, which Robbie and I also play: "How much? That's really quite reasonable."




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