This is the third part in a 3 part series (Part 1, Part 2) detailing experiences with using new and innovative online beer retailers. Many physical retailers have sold beer via an online presence for years, but only recently has the model been updated and focused directly on online sales, and sometimes without an affiliated retail location.
I was referred to this site by Adam Nason over at BeerPulse. This site is a blend of Netflix and a beer of the month club. Basically you queue up beers you would like to buy and each month they send you a box of 6 (2 of each) of the beers in your queue. (If you have nothing in your queue, will they choose for you? This part is unclear and I did not test.) It is fairly easy to browse their limited selection of mostly California breweries. They were “out” of some things like Russian River stuff, though I am not sure why as that should be plentiful in CA. I am also not sure how they can be “out” of something if they only do shipments once a month?
Setting up your queue of beers is easy enough. The hard part is the waiting. You know what beers will come, but there is no instant gratification as with other online shipping experiences.
In a single simple comparison to bineandvine.com – pricing is somewhat cheaper – $66 total for a case of 6 bottles with CraftBeerConnect, or $90-100 for the same 6 bottles including shipping at BineandVine (pricing is similar if you were able to pickup in person in California at a retail location).
Selection doesn’t seem to change very much, and there aren’t many higher end options. Additionally, you might not appreciate getting 2 of each beer if you like to try a lot of things or end up disliking something.
As for the website itself, you can’t browse within your selected tier, rather you can only browse by brewery or style. There are some additional slight bugs in the website such as adding dealers choice won’t add the proper tier beers and you can’t see what beers were sent to you on in previous months. No order/shipment history is a major flaw.
I ended up cancelling this service after two months (when you do cancel, it completely locks you out of the service – no records, no going back). This service is not worth it for a more experienced craft drinker – but perhaps good for someone looking to easily try new things with little effort. 2 out of 5 stars.