Monthly Beer Clubs, or How to Surf for a New Brew

Monthly Beer Club - home delivery

A beer club gives members the opportunity to try many styles of craft microbrews with monthly home delivery.

We’re all familiar with the wine of the month club, but what’s available for beer drinkers? Did you know that monthly beer clubs are getting to be just as popular?

Wine organization and individual wineries have long formed clubs to help distribute bottlings. Wine clubs originated offline, but proliferated via the Internet. The lush, full-color print catalogs and newsletters they used to distribute were wonderful, but infrequent, expensive to produce, and hardly interactive save for, perhaps, a column that answered a member’s question or two per month.

The advent and worldwide adoption of the web brought sweeping changes to the wine clubs. Their producers were now able to interact directly with club members every day, attract participants from all over the globe, and do so at lower cost than every before. The number of clubs skyrocketed. Membership rose. No longer representing just the fanatic fringe, wine clubs became a consumer force.

Happily for craft brew-lovers everywhere, beer clubs are finally beginning to catch up. 

What to Expect from a Monthly Beer Club

Too often that great micro or specialty brew you tasted at a pub or restaurant with a great beer list is difficult or impossible to find in even a good local wine and beer shop. Beer clubs enable those looking for variety to find rare, low-production, seasonal and other specialty brews at excellent prices. Beer clubs are a boon to aficionados located outside metropolitan areas, where well-stocked stores can feature a wide range of special selections.

Some monthly clubs continue to produce newsletters and other print materials to enclose with shipments, but blogs and interactive forums have become the media of choice for beer clubs. Members are provided great depth of information regarding the club selections, which are often chosen by genuine experts, and sometimes internationally-recognized industry icons. Selection officials are frequently the same people who fill the judges’ panels at beer tasting competitions. Beer club members are also occasionally receive collectible glassware or other breweriana as part of their shipments.

Club terms differ, but most keep prices more or less in line with retail prices, or lower, despite offering merchandise rare in most parts of the world. Most clubs offer packages in the range of $15 to $30 per shipment before postage. Members can usually dictate the frequency with which a new shipment will arrive in the mail, typically monthly or quarterly, and how large each shipment should be.

Beer clubs take their responsibility to disseminate information seriously. Your brew is delivered with more stats than the back of a veteran player’s baseball card. Members become fluent in the language of IBU, or International Bitterness Units; ABV, or alcohol by volume; Brix; specific, original, and finished gravity and, yes, some notes on flavor, too, as well as exclusive interviews with brewers, suggestions for beer and food pairings, and brewery histories. Each shipment is like a lesson in school but, this time, you’re eager to attend the class.

Bocks, dark stouts, ales, beers smoked, fruited or spiced, a club can steer you to examples you would never be able to source on your own, let alone pour. Monthly beer clubs have differing specialties, so one may suit your tastes more than another. Contemporary clubs deliver beer from virtually every nation in which it is made, many of which may surprise you.

To begin your exploration of monthly beer clubs, you might want to check out two of the staples. Both the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club and Beer America are popular, and feature packages between $22 and $35 per month for 12 bottles. You’ll get great beer from both, but keep in mind that your favorite search engine can unearth many other beer club choices.

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