June 2, 2017
Robert A Vergara Jr.
Cover art Erka Capili Inciong
The fizzy aroma of malt and hops filled Le Café Curieux, a dim restobar at the well‑lit and lively P. Burgos Street in Makati City, on a recent Saturday night. An electronic board, placed at the forefront of the cafe, projected the prices’ rise and fall. Shrieks and wails among foreign guests—mostly in their mid‑30s—jazzed up the place.
It was the stock exchange’s regular scene, taking place beyond 3 p.m. The stocks? Belgian beers. The traders? Beer lovers.
Known for serving authentic French cuisine and rum—thus reeling in expatriates in droves—Le Café Curieux on May 20 turned into a trading floor. The event was entitled “Belgian Beers Stock Exchange Night” with the tagline: “The price of beers fluctuates according to supply and demand.”
A fairly new concept to the country, incorporating stock exchange in parties and other events is a common practice among business students in Belgium, according to Romain Hotterbeex, sales director of Les Deux Belges that supplies Belgian beer to Le Café Curieux, and who organized the event.
“People, especially those from business schools, basically want to make something like a night worthy of fun and also related to their studies,” Mr. Hotterbeex told SparkUp.
Indeed, trading nerds could rejoice in the word play, especially as they were required to “invest in drinks wisely,” and “make the biggest profit while [they] can.”
But even a Wall Street layman sitting at the bar would turn into a stock whiz at this event… as long as his alcohol tolerance is high.
Art Erka Capili Inciong
Just like how securities are bought and sold at prices governed by the forces of demand and supply in the stock market, the prices of the Belgian beers that the cafe offers fluctuate depending on the number of bottles ordered by the guests—or the demand. The more popular the beer, the higher the price. The less popular, the lower.
During the event, a bottle that costs ₱120 went up to ₱220. Meanwhile, some of those are normally sold at ₱100 went for as low as ₱80.
“The purpose is for people to come and to start betting and drinking everything,” Mr. Hotterbeex explained. “The end game for those students is to get drunk as cheap as possible, so obviously they’re going to switch from one alcohol to another one or one beer to another one.”
Beer seems like the perfect fit in this informal stock market simulation. And unlike stock trading, there’s not much at risk but the night’s buzz.
“People like drinks, but then if they keep on buying those drinks the price will go up, so they’re going to be forced to switch to something else unless they want to pay the higher price. They get to try a lot of different drinks during the night,” he said.
In bringing the concept to the Philippines, Mr. Hotterbeex said his company aims to introduce Belgian beer to more Filipinos.
“Here for us, the purpose is for people to have fun with our wide range of beers because it’s something special,” he said. “And also for people to go and try different beers that they might have not tried before or that they wouldn’t usually go for.“
“It’s just a fun thing,” he said. “It’s for people to have fun. We combine drinking with having fun.”
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