Is Beer Really Cheaper Than Water Now?

In virtually all taverns and restaurants in the Czech Republic, a mug of beer is surprisingly cheaper than water. At the moment, in an average Czech Republic pub, water will set you back $2 while a pint of pilsner will only cost you about a dollar. How can it be that the price of water is twice that of beer?

It is not clear if the low beer prices are a result of the Czech citizen’s love of ale or if their love of beer has caused the prices to tank. Whichever the case, the Czech Republic is the cradle of Pilsner, and therefore, folks enjoy themselves; consuming an average of 37 gallons of beer each year per person. That is incontestably the highest per capita consumption of this sudsy beverage in the whole world.

Surprisingly, the Czech Republic is not alone. There is a whole host of countries the world over where the price of beer is significantly lower than the price of water. Many people ask why that is the case, especially keeping in mind that drinking water entails little, if any, production. Understandably, however, nowadays companies opt to bottle water for sale- unlike in the not-so-distant past when you’d get your water either from the tap or a natural source such as a spring or river. Even so, the production costs of water for drinking can’t possibly exceed the production costs of beer. That is why the question remains: How can water be more expensive than beer?

Recently, a Quora user posed the question: why is beer cheaper than water in some countries? Another user was fast to point out that it is not that beer is exactly cheaper than water in some countries, but that some companies mark up their water bottles higher than beer. He went on to explain that the price of any given product is usually not a clear reflection of what consumers would consider fair markups and fair cost. (Hello profit margin!)

That is true. Water vendors often have to sell their water at a price which can rake in as good a return as that of a bottle of ale occupying same space on the shelves. Meaning that if you usually sell a bottle of beer in an hour to make a dollar, and in the same period you have to wait for around two hours to sell a bottle of water, then you increase the price of water to make the same profit as your favorite brew.

Another factor that may well explain why the price of water could be higher than beer is availability. In  the case of the Czech Republic, it would seem that beer is more readily available than water- incredible as it sounds. If for example, river water in some areas may be polluted, allowing bottling companies to then benefit from this fact and rake in a fortune by bottling clean water and selling at a very high price. It is common knowledge that the price of any commodity is usually determined by demand and supply. If a cold brew is more available than water, then it goes without saying that water will be more expensive.

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