How awesome is it to get craft beer delivered to your door? I am here to tell you that it is something you might appreciate more than you thought. With this Craft Beer Club review we cover some of the most important points relevant to a beer of the month club service. In our experience not all clubs provide the same level of service and sometimes the smallest of details in execution have a major impact.
Chris and I are not new to subscription clubs and over the years we have been members of several – coffee, wine, sparkling wine and micro brews (naturally:). In result we have a pretty good idea of how these services work and have developed a strong sense of what we like.
Some of our subscription clubs were gifts from family members, others we had joined on a whim after having a glass of bubbly paired with fresh oysters and yet others we intentionally sought out and researched. This was the case with the Craft Beer Club (aka the Original craft beer club). From the several beer of the month clubs we have been/are current customers of, they are the best in our opinion. By way of disclosure, we have an ongoing monthly subscription with them for which we pay ourselves. We recently contacted them with questions the answers to which we wanted to share in a post (this Craft Beer Club review) and they kindly answered and even sent us a courtesy shipment, which was essentially a duplicate of our regularly scheduled shipment for the month.
Each month we receive a dozen of 12 oz craft beer bottles. There are four different styles per shipment, three bottles per style. As seems to be the norm with many clubs, upon signing up for an ongoing membership there were several welcome gifts included – a set of four cardboard coasters, a bottle opener and a subscription to The Beer Connoisseur. A nice touch, we actually use all three things pretty regularly.
The packaging is pretty good for protecting the brews inside. In the past we have received both polystyrene foam (as pictured below) and thermally molded pulp inlays and whereas the second one is more environmentally friendly both do the job.
Being in the USA an adult signature is legally required at delivery but it doesn’t have to be by the actual addressee. This makes office deliveries quite a convenience for those who cannot be at home – having the boxes ship to your work location solves a lot of problems. These days I happen to be present around the time that the UPS guy comes by, but a few years ago this wasn’t the case.
Craft Beer Club ships their monthly selections in unmarked cartons – a great asset if you work in an office full of nosy colleagues. Trust me. Right before our son was born I was working long hours in a private equity firm and we had several different shipments coming to my office (no one would be home to sign for them and Chris was always on the move as the then Banquets Chef of a large ski resort). Some had large markings all over revealing the contents and many times people would make various (sometimes not very friendly) comments or straight up ask for a bottle or two… I love to share, but please come over to our home, sit back and relax, let us cook you a meal… you know – the fun way of doing things:)
Chris’ favorite thing about this beer club is the fact that they send you brews from all over the country. States we might not have a chance to visit, where the local breweries are making good stuff that we’d never try because they do not sell across state lines or perhaps sell only in the areas close to them. Believe it or not, you could even receive beer from a brewery in your own state of residence that is simply all the way out there on the other side of the Rockies, where you may or may not go in the near future. And let’s face it – our local craft beer stores can only carry so many beers.
With this last shipment for example, featured breweries were Colorado based Kannah Creek Brewing Co. and Ispwich Ale Brewery from Massachusetts. Kannah Creek is out of Grand Junction, on the west side of Colorado. Not exactly very close, the Continental Divide must be conquered on the way there from our house. They also have a new location in Fruita, very near the border with Utah. When we lived in the mountains, we went down there to bike in the spring or passed through the area on the way to Moab and Arches National Park. We never had the time to explore the local craft beer scene, so getting to know the flavors of that brewery was a real treat. If we end up that way this summer, we will definitely stop by the taproom.
And as to Ipswich Ale Brewing – remember this? That’s how we got to try Finn McCool’s traditional stout.
So how does the Craft Beer Club select what to include in the monthly shipments? We learned that they have buyers who talk to breweries on a daily basis and try to include locally popular styles based on a variety of criteria – award winning brews, stories behind the beer, seasonal availability (even if you traveled to that brewery, they may not have the style available right at that time).
The beer selections reflect current trends but also feature a variety of styles popular across the country. They also make sure that the locations and distribution regions of each month’s featured breweries do not cross over. Orders are placed based on their forecast of member shipments for the following month and the beer is produced and bottled literally days before the Craft Beer Club trucks arrive to pick it up and transport it to the central fulfillment center.
Each shipment includes an informational sheet about the brewery, the two included styles and fun things like recipes for food pairings and craft beer trivia.
On days we get a new shipment, we like to sit down and do a small beer tasting together. We read the enclosed info as we sip on the brews, look up the breweries, plan recipes where the beers could potentially be used as an ingredient. It’s really fun, geeking out like that. Good times.
Craft Beer Club Review Summary
The following are the aspects where we feel the Craft Beer Club does better than competitors, which is why we will be sticking with them. Try them out or consider them as a gift to any craft beer lover(s) in your life.
- free shipping in the contiguous 48 states – not all clubs offer that
- very flexible shipping schedules – just go to their site or talk to one of their customer service people and will be convinced
- easy to navigate online account dashboard – you can see what is going to be shipping before it does, make changes to your settings, references styles from months ago, the works…
- friendly customer service – no explanation needed here
- e-mails with tracking number for UPS Ground service – what a concept, you can actually plan for the day the shipment arrives, reroute it via UPS, request an alternative day delivery etc… (sounds like something everyone should be doing, yet we regularly receive other shipments that were never announced, sometimes we miss them)
- discrete unmarked shipping cartons – as elaborated above in this post
- thoughtful selections – we got Irish Stout right on time for St.Patrick’s Day and it was really good too
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