Big beer boxes and brewery memberships. Cellar math. Trunk beers.
Special Guest: Steve Kadlec. We talk with Steve about his recent trip to Michigan, as well as GABF weekend.
Sour tastings, atom bombs and Budweiser.
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.
Decade episode recap. Plan for the end of the BeerDownload tournament? Fobab planning. –
UPDATE: As of January 15, 2013 Beerjobber stopped taking orders.
This is the second part in a 3 part series (Part 1, Part 3) 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 discovered Beerjobber after a mention in a NYTimes.com article. This site’s focus is to broker transactions directly between breweries and customers. After an order is placed, it is forwarded directly to the brewery who then packages the beer from their own stock and ships the beer directly to the customer.
I placed an order on a Thursday to get a variety pack from Voodoo Brewing Company in Meadville, PA. This enabled me to try 6 different beers from the same brewery instead of 12 of a single beer (you must order a full case). I ended up splitting the case with Steve so we each got to try 6 different beers with no extras – a great way to use this site if you ask me. Cost worked out to be $7.88/22oz bottle. It shipped the next day on Friday and was delivered to Chicago on the following Tuesday. The box arrived intact in great condition. It was packed as a standard 12 22oz bottle cardboard beer box, set with Styrofoam corners inside a larger box. Also inside the box were 2 extra beer lables (stickers) and a handwritten thank you note from the brewery. The beers all tasted fresh and I really enjoyed the White Magick of the Sun the best.
The main drawbacks of this site are the availability and restriction to a full case. The site seems to only work with smaller breweries that make less well-known beers. There are a few above average choices from time to time, but they might not be included in a variety pack – otherwise you need to order a full 12 case of a beer you might not end up liking. Additionally, due to the nature of the site, they might be an outlet for breweries to get rid of older, less fresh beer (for example “Summer” beers being sold in September).
I am less likely to continue ordering from this site unless they expand to include more breweries with good regional names but limited distribution to Chicago. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
This will be the first in a 3 part series (Part 2, Part 3)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.
First up: LetsPour.com
Founded in Seattle in 2010 as a social wine site, and adding a retail model in 2011, LetsPour combines elements of a Groupon style deal site with a Foursquare style check-in service. The retail portion seems to have been started in an effort to provide good deals on wine (and later beer was added, as the two founders say little about beer in their bios). The retail site is focused on presenting new “deals” on a regular basis (several times a week). Once you signup on the site, you will starting getting daily emails featuring the latest beer deals. There are several ways to reduce the cost of your purchase as well (referrals, coupons, etc). The amount of each beer available seems to be fairly limited and more popular/rare beers listed recently are shown as sold out.
I first decided to place an order through LetsPour after noticing a well targeted ad on Facebook. I decided to order a mix of six different 22oz bombers mostly from Washington state that are difficult/impossible to get in Chicago, but aren’t really high end or rare. Shipping is free with 6 bottles and after a $10 coupon the average per bottle price worked out to be $6.38 – a pretty decent price I feel – but without the coupon it starts to get pricey . I placed the order late on Sunday night and while it was marked as “shipped” on Monday, it didn’t enter UPS’s system until Tuesday and didn’t leave Redmond, WA until Wednesday, and thus didn’t deliver to Chicago until the following Tuesday. If I order something online, I expect it to be shipped out the next business day at the latest.
When the beer did arrive, it was well packed in a proper horizontal bottle packer. The whole thing was wrapped in a large plastic bag (to contain possible leaks in case of a broken bottle?) and also contained a few disposable cold packs (though after a week in transit, were of little added value). The beers were all intact and in good shape. Upon tasting, all seemed to be fresh and proper tasting.
I subsequently placed a second order when they were offering a few beers that I was looking for not readily available in Chicago. This order was made on a Thursday and was shipped the same day. It was delivered the following Wednesday – appropriate processing time for this order.
The 3rd order I placed on a Friday, it didn’t ship until the following Wednesday for delivery the following Tuesday. Way too long a delay in shipping. So 2 of 3 orders were severely delayed in shipping, not a good sign for a place trying to run an innovative online operation to sell beer.
They send a daily email featuring the newest beers available. Occasionally they offer a very rare beer which is usually gone within a few hours (examples select Cigar City beers). However, there is usually a limit of 1 bottle on these beers, forcing you to buy 5 more bottles to fill the box and avoid the $20 shipping charge. I don’t care for this practice. If you are going to offer a single rare bottle, you need to make it easy to buy just that bottle, or maybe 2 bottles, and hope that this leads to an organic growth in sales.
Overall, a decent experience and I would probably continue buying from them if I am looking for specific or more rare beers that don’t come to Chicago easily. 4 of 5 stars.
Post event coverage of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Chicago’s annual Festiv-ale. Different sized bottled make different colored beer? Goose Island BCS release. Red states, blue state, and breweries per square mile correlations that not everyone thinks is entirely on the level. End near for eBay beer sales?