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What You're Really Paying for That Beer

22-ounce bottles ("Bombers")

We've already gone on record as saying bombers are just about the worst beer value on the market, but we realize they serve a purpose.

They're a means of getting drinkers to try something new without having them commit to all 72 ounces of a six-pack. They also help small breweries who don't want to commit to bottling a small batch of beer in six-packs get their beer out to the public in a manageable size. If the beer inside is any good, the brewery is rewarded with demand that outstrips supply and considerable profit.

Let's say you were to find a bomber of Anchor Steam -- a fine beer out of San Francisco -- kicking around for $3.50. That may not look like a bad deal compared with the $4, 16-ounce pint at the bar across the street, but that would be an $11.45 six-pack. Even at craft prices, that's not exactly cheap.

Now let's assume you're going for a high-alcohol imperial or hard-to-find limited edition. Total Wine in Bellevue, Wash., sells bombers of La Foile Flanders Red from New Belgium brewing's Lips of Faith series for $14 a pop. That would be a more than $45 six-pack and just completely unreasonable for someone just looking to try something new. The bomber provides a less painful point of entry, even if it's not altogether pleasant for your wallet.

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