eBay and beer: the end is nigh?

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The founder of a niche site, BeerAuctions.com, wrote into BeerPulse with those words tonight.

Indeed, rumors are circulating on the message boards that eBay is now pulling certain craft beer listings from the website, recognizing that the liquid inside is what is driving the beer auctions and not the “collectibility” of the container.

Beer listings from a number of breweries including Cantillon appeared to be taken down on Sunday though some listings have since gone up in their place with emphasized language as to why the bottle is collectible.

HIll Farmstead’s latest Facebook status page reads, “Amazing? All of our beers and those of our respected colleagues have been removed from eBay!?” Hill Farmstead was recently in the spotlight here for comments made against eBay sales.

BeerPulse has a request out to eBay for confirmation though, it being late Sunday night, the company didn’t respond immediately to the rumors.

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41 thoughts on “eBay and beer: the end is nigh?

  1. If the bottles are so collectible and the liquid not, best to pour out the liquid before hand. Why pay for extra shipping costs of the liquid?

  2. It’s true. I had three auctions taken down. I was trying to sell my beer for money for better homebrewing equipment. Guess I’ll need to drink them now =) The email they sent out is a new one mentioned “Craft Beer” and how they pretty much know it’s not being sold for the bottle but for the contents inside.

  3. Well, this removes eBay from the equation but it will most likely force sellers to Craigs List.

  4. It’s always been an illegal practice, EBay & its beer sellers just chose to ignore that fact.

  5. If BeerAuctions.com is so offended with the sale of collectible beer on e-bay then explain why they have all the e-bay listings up on their website? Like it or not it comes down to geography. Not every beer can be had in every state and if your like me and want to try every beer in the world, but cant travel, then e-bay is an excellent source for those hard to find beers. IMHO. Bottoms up!

  6. Thanks to BeerAuctions.com for making it easier to find and report beer being sold on eBay.

  7. I see that the Beer Advocate thread has already been killed. I wonder how many of the Alstrom Bros. eBay auctions were killed.

  8. It’s an assumption on my part (good or bad). The way I figure it, e-bay sales would tend to make sites such as BeerAuctions.com feel like they’re missing out on a dollar and since greed tends to rule peoples judgment, especially in business, that argument makes perfect since.

  9. Sean, the world definitely needs more do-gooders like yourself! I can just see you sitting in your bedroom at your moms (probably in your pajamas) spending hour after hour relentlessly sorting through eBay listings with a fine tooth comb! The reality is consenting adults can make their own decisions whether they’re legal or not. Who are you to decide what’s being sold for the value of the packaging or their contents? If there is a legal issue – the parties involved (including eBay) can handle it THEMSELVES. As the disclaimer read for the post I submitted on your blog (which I believe you’ve “moderated” out) I don’t buy or sell beer on eBay or ANY other site. I’ve NEVER traded beer with anyone other than with a close group of friends – which is never a “hey man I’ve got this and want that” type of trade. I’m against copyright infringement and pirating. And I work in the craft beer industry. There are only a few industries where I believe a seller of a product or service should have ANY control over it once it’s been sold and craft beer is NOT one of them!

  10. Well said JB. It’s awful pretentious to think that someone can control the industry from start all the way to consumption. If the brewery made money on it by selling it, then whats the big deal? Sounds like jealousy to me. Can’t have what someone else has so raise a stink about it. Heck, my 3yr old does the same thing.

  11. In my club we live by a simple philosophy: Your crap doesn’t affect me and my crap doesn’t affect you. Stop worrying so much about what others do and just worry about you and yours.

  12. @crass2112, when I posted a similar but different comment on his blog I ended with “now I’m taking my ball(s) and going home”!

  13. If the value was in the packaging, then one would think the cost of a sealed bottle/can would be similar to that of an opened container. Looking at vintage soda cans on ebay, the difference is small (within 25% or so it seems in most cases). With beer, empty bottles on ebay are going for a fraction of the retail price of the beer. Full, those same beers are selling for 1000% more. Is beer different from soda that much that the seal on the bottle controls 95% of the cost?

    It seems much more likely that people are using the collectable bottle reasoning as an excuse to buy beer from people online without liquor licenses.

  14. From ebay: “We understand that it is a frustrating situation to have your item removed from eBay, especially if you have seen other listings like yours on the site. If you do come across any other items that are the same or similar to yours, and you feel that they are in violation of our policies, please report them to us using the “report item” link on the listing page. “

  15. Free enterprise 101. No excuses here. If I see a beer on e-bay, or anywhere for that matter, and I want it then I’m gonna buy it. The brewery made their money, the Government got their tax dollars from the initial sale, and the amped up interest people have for new beers is whats driving the craft beer movement in the first place. Keep it up and DuPont will have craft beer outlawed just like they did other stuff in 1937! ok, maybe not, but the powers that be are gonna start taking notice and screw us all!

  16. Some of the comments here are laughable – are you guys drinking when posting? I would suggest if you really feel like your ‘rights’ are being infringed upon, do about 5 seconds of research (here’s some: http://www.iwbda.com/_mgxroot/page_10763.html ) and then go after the distributors and the 3-tier system. They, along with the laws that they sponsor and lobby for, are the reason that it is ILLEGAL for YOU (if you are not a licensed distributor or brew pub) to sell/buy your beer on ebay. Pretty simple.

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  18. Re: Craigslist.
    Actually, selling or trading alcohol on Craigslist hasn’t been allowed for some time. And unlike eBay, all it takes on Craigslist is someone with an itchy trigger finger to flag your ad and it’s down immediately. You are guilty until proven innocent, and even if you fight to have it reinstated someone can immediately flag it again.

  19. @beer auctions suck – I don’t think rational sellers (or buyers) question the legal issues. I personally question the crusade by bitter people who aren’t party to the transaction to “snitch” out others. If you’re against the practice of auctions or other gray areas – then simply don’t participate. By the way the distributors didn’t setup/establish the three tier system. Some would rather it not be in place – but – without it, I guarantee you wouldn’t have the choice and selection of craft beers that we’re currently seeing. Without the three tier system the biggest breweries would have the ability to block and/or buy shelf space basically eliminating any room for small to even medium size players. You could have major breweries own large chains, you could pay to play and other schemes effectively stifling growth of the little guy and their craft products. You could simply have price wars that a craft brewery would not be able to sustain.

  20. Unfortunately the practice of beer auctions DOES affect the overall price and demand for beer – you don’t live in a vacuum. When a beer goes up on ebay and is auctioned off for a higher price than the retailer sold it for, it drives many to purely seek out that beer in the future for profit and selling on ebay. It is really bad for the industry, beer enthusiasts as well as being illegal – and places national ‘market demand’ on local beers.
    Simply ignoring while the ebeer listings continue to increase and more and more ‘noobs’ only look for beer that has garnered top dollar, is burying your head in the sand. I’m glad that someone is pointing this out (and it’s not a brewer – they are the ones really getting hosed).

  21. I should also say I have no love for tattle-tales – hell they were always the ones telling on me when I acted up in grade school. But my usual reaction was to be angry with them and not myself – I was 10 years old at the time. That response (and the one that is displayed above) is pretty immature.

    Like I stated earlier – if you don’t like the law then do something about it. Write to the local legislature, distributor, whomever, and see about changing the laws that are still fallout from prohibition.

  22. All of you that are whining about the issue of ebeer sales being illegal, wake up. Driving over the speed limit is illegal also, but EVERYONE does it. It’s kinda like picking & choosing which sins are bad and which ones aren’t. To imply that increased interest is somehow bad for the industry is ignorance at its best. Get a life and stop worrying about other peoples business.

  23. Last time I checked Trading Beer is also illegal, along with shipping it across state lines is a Felony. I guess we have to crack down on that now.

  24. @beer auctions suck – the brewers/breweries are NOT getting screwed! They set a wholesale price and/or a retail price if they sell at their brewery/pub – if the beer sells, they get everything they’re asked for and are entitled to. The only part of your argument I really agree with is that the local population finds it harder to find a specific beer if it’s getting national exposure and being sought out. But hey….if you can’t find that beer, there are plenty of other beers out there. There are few breweries that aren’t brewing beer to ultimately make a profit – I don’t feel bad for any brewery that sells their beer at an asking price of X$ and then watches as someone else sells it for 3 X$! The brewery asked for a price and got it. If they’re leaving money on the table and want to recapture it – charge more. If not don’t hold it against two consenting parties who ultimately agree on a price they feel the product is worth. Again I realize there are legal issues – but that’s between the two parties, the venue where the buyer and seller are matched and the regulators.

  25. @JB – find me a single craft brewer that agrees with you on this point – taking their product and reselling for 3X the profit (after the distributor has already did the same). the only people that say that are the ones that are selling beer on ebay and making money off it. i’m assuming that you and others who have posted here are involved in that practice.

  26. you’re illegal practices artificially increase supply/demand on local product – which in turn adversely affects everyday beer drinkers. local beers are harder to come across and there’s a line at any release these days. Breweries are increasing the prices to slow down sales. They have also changed their selling practices with more and more only selling ‘on premises’ only to try and curb your activity. it would be awesome if ebay would actually grow some and put a stop to it, but they don’t care because it’s such a small enclave of their business.

  27. The attitude of craft beer is changing and becoming more and more like a bunch of ‘home flippers’ with clowns trying to make profit from someone else’s hard work.

  28. It would seem that the consumer is changing the business model. Change with the times or get left behind.

  29. actually, this is a bunch of bullshit. what about people who dont have money or time to fly across the country and get in a line with only hopes of receiving a bottle of some sort of rare gem? that completely eliminates any chance of them having the opportunity to try it. And screw hillstead, what a bunch of assholes. If they are so pissed about people selling their beers for more money, then produce more of it so people can get their hands on some. Who cares that people who dont ever see the beers are willing to pay 50 bucks for a bottle? they want the beer….at least let them have that

  30. @beer auctions suck as I said in earlier posts – I have NEVER bought or sold beers or any related products on eBay or any other website for that matter. My understanding is that it’s illegal to do so – but if others are able to do so without repercussions – then more power to them. Nor have I ever participated in trading/exchanging beer outside of my “circle” of friends.

    IMHO, in a free market – selling “local” beer (as you refer to it) on eBay wouldn’t be considered “artificially” altering supply and demand – as it’s a natural element of a typical business transaction. These people aren’t cornering the market on product and driving up prices. They buy a few bottles – maybe a case and find a WILLING AND CONSENTING buyer while setting a value on the product as that said moment and place.

    In regards to the screwing “everyday beer drinkers” believe an everyday beer drinker will find something to drink and enjoy.

    In regards to whether a single craft brewer agrees with me on whether or not a 3rd party makes more off their beer than they did – it doesn’t matter and I don’t care. Ultimately, the craft brewer makes a product (like any other producer or manufacturer) and they’re free to price it however they see fit. If they want higher profits they have a few choices…raise prices, use less costly ingredients or make it up in volume (if they have the capacity).

    They’re in control of their business (if they’re more than just good brewers and actually good business people) they have choices – but it’s really not any of their business once the beer hits their distributors property…even if the practice of a consumer reselling beer is illegal. Once a product leaves their loading dock – the only control a brewer (or any manufacturer) should have is over how it’s marketed, displayed, quality control etc…

    In regards to changing their selling practices to control “my activities” – they don;’t have to do that at all. It’s a choice they make – if they feel as though they need to do so – then good for them – it’s their right – but again – it’s a choice – NOT – a necessity. Brew your beer and sell your beer! Trying to control a product when it;s NOT yours anymore is a bit narcissistic if you ask me!

    For Pete’s Sake it’s ONLY BEER!

  31. Personaly, I would like to know Greg Kochs take on this subject. Being that Stone Brewing is the fastest growing brewery in the world right now, as well as the most popular, and their Vertical Epic series is selling like hot cakes on e-bay.

  32. Shoving your oppresive, communist, control freak boot in the consumers face will get your doors closed. There’s a reason the likes of Stone brewing and Boston beer company are so popular, they sell their beer and then let people enjoy it. If your business goals are so narrow minded that you only want locals to enjoy your beer, so be it, but stop your bitchin when you cant afford to buy hops the next time a shortage rolls around or pay your gas bill to fire that fancy burner you got sittin in the back room.

  33. @crass2112 – If I were a brewery, I would give two craps about losing a customer like you. The beer community would be much better off if you left and went back to your etrade and home flipping practices….

    For some reason when I read your post above, all I can think of is the ‘Team America’ song… “America….F-yeah!”

  34. @ beer auctions suck. thank you, based on your advice, i just listed a beer on e-bay, (an o7 Utopias to be exact), it sold in less than an hour and i made a nice profit of $180 over what i paid. If you were a brewery, I’d buy your beer turn around and sell it for 3x what i paid, again, thank you!

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