Beer Club Buyer’s Guide
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Signing up for a beer club membership is a highly personal experience. With so many choices out there, it is all about finding a balance between how much you want to spend each month, your beer drinking desires and just what you want to get from the club itself. Luckily, sifting through the list of different memberships isn't too difficult – especially when you break it down into categories.
What is a Beer of the Month Club?
Beer of the month clubs are on-going membership opportunities with local breweries and monthly subscription service companies. You will have a set number of beers delivered straight to your door each month for a specified fee. Beers can range from unique to international to even rare and collectors' items. Most of these memberships are contract-free, and you can cancel at any time. They are perfect for gift giving or just splurging a little for yourself.
How to Pick the Right Beer Club
There are dozens of beer clubs out there, but not all live up to their promises. You should always do a little due diligence and research the club you are considering to make sure it is offered through a reputable company. From there, it is all about narrowing down the list by deciding what it is you want from the beer club itself.
International or Domestic?
Not all beer clubs offer international beer varieties. In fact, only a handful do. If you want more than just domestic beers, you will want to look into the clubs that also offer international varieties. For example, the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club is one of the few to offer international beers. Surprisingly, most beer clubs focus on domestic – not that there is a lack of selection. Also, domestic beers let you explore breweries that may even be in your home state that you weren't aware of.
Most beer of the month clubs will not force you into a contract, but some do have contract periods or entice you into contracts with “discounts.” Take a careful look at the discounts before committing to a three, six or even 12-month contract. Often the discounts are negligible and the freedom of no contracts is more appealing. Also, if you sign up for a contract, be aware that cancellation fees may apply and you may be required to pay the entire contract period upfront.
While most beer of the month clubs deliver monthly, some will offer quarterly, bi-monthly or the option to customize how often you receive shipments. If 12 bottles of beer each month is too much for you, look for clubs that let you skip deliveries or clubs that offer alternatives to monthly shipments. The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club, for example, lets you change how often you receive shipments. The Bruery Society, as another example, ships out only four times per year.
Limited Production and Collectors' Items
If you are not new to beer drinking, you may want a club that sends rare, limited edition beers or even has membership options specifically tailored to those that need something a little more “refined.” Beer Craft, for example, ships only limited production, hard-to-find beers in their membership boxes. Clubs like MicroBeer Club focus solely on lesser known, small breweries around the country. The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club has a Rare Beer Club membership that sends four bottles of rare beers each month too.
Price and Shipping
Price is always at the forefront of every consumer decision. Some clubs will entice members with low monthly charges, but then hit with high shipping charges. Research a club's total per bottle or per beer price before signing up and include shipping. While companies that offer free shipping have higher monthly charges, be aware that compared to the companies that aren't upfront about shipping, the prices are similar in the end. Also, if signing up for a rare or collectors' club, be prepared to pay more than for an introductory club – because you are getting access to limited production beers you most likely will never find locally.
Bottom line, don't let the large selection of beer clubs out there overwhelm you – instead, let it excite you. With so many clubs to choose from, you can bounce around from club to club and get the ultimate beer of the month experience no matter where you go.