Craft beer in the mail, does it get any better than that?
Although there is a great selection of beer at my local bottle stores, I decided it was time to broaden my horizon and try a Beer of the Month Club. Having no experience with these, I did a simple search on “Beer of the month club” and started combing through the dozen or so pages displayed. None of the sites I came across looked very reputable, and even worse, most of the reviews I found looked as if they were paid to do so. In spite of my uneasiness, and in the interest of science, I would not be deterred. After comparing costs, beer selection and subscription length, I settled on Clubs of America.
Would the beer be good? Will shipping be a problem? Are they going to send me beer that I can find around here? Not knowing what to expect, I chose a one month subscription for $35, with no additional charge for shipping. For my $35, I was to receive three bottles each of four styles from two different breweries. Doing some minor calculations, that is roughly $2.92 per bottle, or 17.52 for a six pack. Considering this includes shipping and supposedly supplies me with beer I couldn’t otherwise find, the overall cost isn’t terrible. After placing my order, I was told beer ships the third or fourth week of each month; I ordered on March 7th and forgot about it.
I arrived at home a week later to find a note on my door from UPS stating they tried to deliver, but due to age requirements, were unable. Fortunately the UPS pickup location is only 5 minutes from my house, so I called to arrange pickup for later in the evening. In less than two hours, I would have my package. For those at home keeping score, so far this experience gets high marks for ease of sign-up and delivery.
Wanting to get the beer into the refrigerator as quickly as possible, I made quick work of opening the box. Much to my surprise, the beer was fairly well packaged, with no signs of damage. I probably would have added packing peanuts, but the shipping turned out fine. Inside featured Oak Barrel Stout and Hop Mountain Pale ale from Old Dominion Brewing Company (Dover, DE), along with Penn Weizen and Marzen from Pennsylvania Brewing Company (Pittsburgh, PA). Fortunately this answers the question about finding these breweries around South Bend; I cannot. As far as how the beer tastes, you’ll have to keep an eye on The Beer Is Good blog to find out, since I will be posting separate reviews for each. Suffice it to say, I did a quick search on BeerAdvocate.com and found all four varieties scored fairly well.
Overall, I am pleased with how this experience turned out. The beer arrived quickly and without any problems, it was from brewers I haven’t tried, and are rated well. Being considerably more expensive than buying a six-pack from a local store, and not having control over selection is the only downside. Although I won’t maintain a regular subscription, I would recommend every craft beer enthusiast give it a try at least once, or possibly give this as a gift. Over the next few months, I hope to try a few other clubs, so make sure you come back for more reviews!