What's Time Cost?

Again, my busy-ness prevents proper blogging (although this may actually turn out to be an above-par week, so stay tuned), but I pick up a meme in the air.  Max discusses the issue from the cost side:
The beer in question has been aged 4 years in whisky casks. Though 4 years wouldn't have raised any eyebrows in the past, nowadays it is something very much out of the ordinary (with the probable exception of some Lambics), and this alone is enough to this beer quite interesting, at least on paper. Shame about the price, though; roughly, the equivalent of 750CZK for a 330ml bottle. Pfff!
It caught my eye because yesterday I was sitting in Beermongers and the very same idea came up.  Someone noted that a large bottle of Rodenbach (750 ml) went for nine bucks. This is a beer for which 2/3s of the bottle is aged two years in wooden vats before it's shipped across an ocean and a continent.  But domestic beer--some of it not even aged!--routinely goes for $12 now.  And the approach to $20 is not far in the future.  Which takes us to this story (hat tip to a regular reader):
Boulder police have arrested a former Avery Brewing Company employee suspected of stealing more than $15,000 in rare beers.  
Police recovered more than 570 bottles of beer at Dickinson's Fort Collins home, with some of the bottles estimated to be worth anywhere from $200 to $300 a bottle.
Okay first of all: $300?   I'd give you $300 for an original bottle of Pilsner Urquell or, say, one filled with Apple stock certificates, but beyond that, someone's paying at least 10x too much for a beer.  (Fermentedly Challenged has more on beer theft if it's a topic you wish to pursue.)  

I will add this, though.  Let's say a barrel of beer is worth $100 to a brewery.  Of that barrel, let's say the ingredients cost an average of $10.  (These are fake figures.)  Now, let's say it takes the brewery three weeks to get the barrel from the grain mill to the bottle--that's the standard economics of a bottle of ale.  A second barrel of beer costs the same amount to make, but it's barrel-aged.  It spends an additional 18 months ripening in the brewery.  How much is that time worth?  This is one element I think people sometimes fail to include in their cost-calculators.  Because in the time it takes to get that 18-month-old beer to market, the brewery will have been able to use the same equipment to put 26 barrels of regular ale to market.  The wood, the tank space, the refrigerant--all those things add money to a bottle of aged beer.

What's it worth?  Whatever the customer will pay.  What's it cost?  Probably more than the average drinker guesses.