Even before I was into craft beer I was interested in Beer of the Month clubs, I was in love with the idea of having beer show up on my doorstep but I could never justify buying into it. The Microbrewed Beer Club and the Rare Beer Club both appealed to me, I’m constantly trying to get my hands on new beers and this seemed like an option, with only a slight gamble that I might end up with a package of beer that I can get locally, but I never took the leap, so a while back when I was offered a sample club I couldn’t pass it up.
What I received was two boxes, one contained 12 beers (12oz bottles), it was the U.S. and International Variety Beer Club, and the other box contained two large bottles, the Rare Beer Club. Both clubs shipped in regular cardboard boxes, no markings of any kind other than the shipping labels. Inside I found the beers to be packed in molded top and bottom trays that keep the glass separated and everything snug and secure. All of my bottles arrived in excellent condition, no breakage or leaks.
The U.S. and International Variety Beer Club contained 4 different beers, 3 of each. The U.S. Beers consisted of Diamond Bear Brewing Paradise Porter and Beer Diva Brewing Honey Amber Rose. The international beers were both from Brauerei Grieskirchner; I received the Pils and Weisse beers. I was happy with the four beers that arrived, none of which I had ever had before, but buyer beware, the clubs are a gamble, you may get something that is available locally, having looked through their past selections (which is available by month all the way back to 1995) I did find Smuttynose and Shipyard had been part of clubs. This club costs $33.95 + $15 shipping and handling, totaling $48.95 which breaks down to $4.10/bottle.
The Rare Beer Club (750ml bottles) was the package I was most excited to receive; again I was not disappointed with the two beers that arrived. Brasserie DuPont La Bière De Beloeil a strong saison out of Belgium and Grassroots Brewing and Anchorage Brewing collaboration, Arctic Saison a Saison with Brettanomyces. The Rare Beer Club is a little different; you can adjust your club by volume which actually improves the cost per bottle. The club that I received, 2 bottles, costs $32.95+$15 S/H totaling $46.95, $23.49/bottle. This club with 4 bottles costs $52.95+$15 S/H totaling $69.95, $17.24/bottle, with 6 bottles costs $69.95+$15 S/H totaling $88.95, $14.83/bottle. This club is definitely an investment but if you are trying to build up your beer cellar the 6 bottle club offers the best price and allows you to try a bottle or two and put the rest away. Both clubs included tasting notes, info about the beers and breweries.
This is only 2 of the four clubs that are offered, information about the other clubs is available on their website.
I liked what I saw from both of these clubs, although I still don’t think I could commit to purchasing one and it has nothing to do with the beer, the beer was great. If I was going to commit it would be to the Rare Beer Club for 6 bottles per month, $88.95 is an investment but it breaks down to the best value per bottle, bottles that you probably aren’t going to find for under $15 at the bottle shop, but I’m not building up a beer cellar so it doesn’t work for me. My other reason is geographic, here in Maine I’ve found (from experience) that having beer shipped during the winter months is a bad idea, even if it’s not left outside on the doorstep the package does not travel in a temperature controlled environment and frozen bottles make for big messes. I will say that for anyone who’s not close enough to visit a bottle shop these clubs are an option during the warmer months.
I reached out to a couple bottle shops here in Maine that I know run their own Beer of the Month Clubs, these clubs are not shipped out but put together at the shop and club members can come in and pick them up, this makes it difficult if you don’t live nearby but does allow you to participate year round regardless of the weather.
Bangor Wine and Cheese beer of the month club costs $25 per month, you can sign up for 3, 6 or 12 months, they accept payments up front or you can choose to be billed monthly. The club consists of 6 to 12 beers, some of which are exclusive to the club and some that are available on the shelf depending on what’s available. This club comes with a re-usable BWC beer bag and tasting notes as well as VIP tasting sessions and the opportunity for early registration and discounts for local beer dinners.
The Bier Cellar in Portland also runs a beer of the month club, this club is a little different, there is a “session” level club that starts at $34.99 for one month, the price will drop with a long term commitment ($32.49/3mo and $29.99/6mo), this level of club gets you a six pack of different beers and one larger bottle (22oz or .750ml). The next level up is the “Imperial” club which starts at $54.99 for one month ($53.49/3mo and $49.99/6mo), this level of club gets you all of the beers from the “session” level as well as a couple extra larger bottles, both clubs are prepaid. Club members also receive tasting notes and get to attend VIP tasting’s every six months.
I find beer of the month clubs are a great option for people who don’t want to have to make a decision on what beer to buy, or for the person who only buys one style and wants to shake things up, you lay down your money in advance and get what you get, sometimes it’s a gamble and you get something that’s available in the supermarket and sometimes you get something wonderful you would have never thought to try. If a beer of the month club sounds like your kind of thing I’d suggest giving it a try for a month or two, if you aren’t near a bottle shop or just prefer the convenience of having beer shipped to you check out www.Beermonthclub.com, if you live near a shop and want to support a local business, stop in and see if they offer a club like Bangor Wine and Cheese or the Bier Cellar.