Beer of the  Month Clubs
                                        by Janny Fineman

Thinking of giving a gift of a membership to a beer of the month club to your favorite beer
devotee?  Well, the idea behind it is the same as any (item) of the month clubs. Subscribers
receive shipments every 30 days or so of a themed item – in this case, craft beer. But given
the wide variety of craft beers, there are a number of different clubs as well.

As with any club of this sort, though, expect to pay a premium – sometimes a steep one.
Twelve-packs of assorted 12-ounce bottles will run you roughly $40 per month.  One of the
best known, the Rare Beer club, typically ships two 750ml bottles, for about $50 after shipping
and handling are added in. That’s a lot of money by most standards for craft beer. And
whether it’s worth it really depends on the variety at your local bottle shop.

The standard craft beer clubs send two different styles from two different brewers (three bottles
of each variety). They are always undeniably craft, but you might often receive brands that are
easily found in your area. That’s something that’s very location dependent, of course, but for
example, once hard to get beers from Harpoon, Cisco and Sweetwater are becoming
increasingly easier to locate. There are of course beers sent that are difficult to find but if
you're cost conscious those beers just might be a lot less expensive by setting up trades with
friends in other cities.

Some states like Pennsylvania have strict alcohol taxation laws which prohibit beer of the
month clubs from shipping to those locations. You’ll want to check out the list of accepting

Some of the shadier beer of the month clubs will send beers that aren’t fresh and are
sometimes near their best by date. If you are going to pay the extra expense for a beer of the
month club, you’re going to want to make sure that you are getting the best quality service.

One of the most popular and highly regarded in the field is The Rare Beer Club club.  They  
ships less beer but you’re more likely to get something you’ve never had before – and may
never find organically. Typically, one of the two bottles is from overseas, but notable U.S.
brewers  often make batches that are exclusive to the club.

Again, you’re paying a premium for the beer. And while you can opt to skip a shipment or a
particular beer in a shipment, you’re still ultimately shelling out $25 for an untried beer, which
always carries some risk. Ultimately, deciding whether a beer club is a good choice for you
comes down to your willingness to gamble.

There is one other option if you’re willing to take some risks – but want to be guaranteed that
you’ll try something you’ve never had before: Noble Brewer. The start-up lets top homebrewers
distribute their creations and get feedback from the beer drinking community.  Again, it’s hit or
miss, but it’s certainly different.

There are many beer clubs out there but please remember they are not all the same. Before
you give a gift of a beer club membership, or sign up for your own enjoyment, you should
consider many things such as:
•Duration.  What is the beer club membership length? Can you choose one to fit your needs?
•Cost.  How does the beer club membership fee compare with the competition?
•Frequency.  How frequently will the beer arrive? Can you select monthly, every other month or
quarterly as needed?
•Beer Choices.  If you'll only drink light or pale beer and can't stomach the heavier formulas, it's
important to know if the beer club offers you a choice.
•Membership Minimums.  Are you required to stay in the beer club for a period of time, or can
you cancel your membership at your discretion?
•Shipping.  It's important to know what shipping charges, if any, will be applied.

Most importantly before signing up as a member of any club always read and review the terms
of service, as well as the membership agreement. Even in beer caveat emptor applies.

Guide for opening a craft brewery
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