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A Beer Club Subscription can be a lot of fun!

I enjoy the quest for a great beer, as you can tell by reading my blog. As part of my decision to start blogging on this topic, I wanted to explore some good clubs for potential affiliate partners. Today, I am going to share my first experience about the beer options with Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club (Monthly Clubs.com). They were the first to approve my application as a partner and have continued to be the most responsive club I’ve worked with. They offer a variety of options for their subscriptions and I decided to start with their “Rare Beer Club”. See their Facebook page for current offerings and a historical list of featured beers going back to 1995.

Rare Beer Club

The Rare Beer Club lives up to its name. Featured monthly are rare beers from around the world. These are treasures from serious brewers that are not widely distributed.

Some selections are brewed exclusively for the club and not available anywhere else! Pictured here are the January selections for both the Rare Beer Club and the new Hop Heads club. The rare beer shipment consists of two 750ml bottles whereas the hop-heads comes with 12-12oz bottles.

I tasted the Avec Les Bons Voeux (with best wishes) – a seasonal holiday tradition from Dupont Brewery. It is an amazingly complex beer with pepper, lemon, apple, banana, vanilla, candied orange – practically a holiday fruit cake in a bottle! While this is clearly an exquisite beer, neither Belgian Tripel nor Saison styles are generally appealing to me. Nonetheless, as a liquid arts judge and a beer connoisseur, I can certainly appreciate a work of art when I taste one. If you like these styles, you’ll love this one. Look for future reviews when I taste the other selection in this shipment, Grand Cru – a Flemish sour, and another truly rare beer.

The Hop-Heads Beer Club

The Hop-Heads Beer Club is for those that really like hops – as you might expect. The club marketing department reached out to me as a new affiliate and offered me a free sample to kick off this new offering. I have tasted a lot of IPAs and on my journey to discover great beers I have learned to appreciate the style. And after tasting a few from this selection, I must say I continued to be impressed by the club’s selection panel. I started with the HopJack by Blackstone Brewing and I think I have found a new favorite IPA!

This deliciously smooth and pleasant beer is relatively high octane to keep you warm on a winter’s night. With bright citrus and fruit on the nose it delivers a solid flavor with floral notes and a hint of pine. It is well balanced with malts and sweetness to temper the hops and ABV. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am looking forward to drinking the rest of these from the shipment. With the Hop-Heads club, you get 4 bottles of each of the three selections for the month – perfect for sharing!

I will post additional articles as I work my way through the remaining selections in this shipment.

Shipping Alcohol Across State Lines

I was curious how the club addressed this, since obviously they have a nation-wide membership. If you’ve ever tried to ship alcoholic beverages to friends, you’ll quickly run into policies by the USPS, FedEx and UPS that they won’t ship it (period – end of story). It’s not generally illegal, but apparently the complications and rules across the various states make it an interesting challenge. The

club has arrangements with one or more boutique shippers that make it possible for them to distribute to almost any address. For the northwest where I live, that means Golden State Overnight (GSO), a General Logistics Systems (GLS) Company. GLS started in Europe and expanded to the western united states via acquisition of GSO.

I have to acknowledge that I live in a remote area of Montana and shipping can be a challenge – particularly during the winter months.  In fact, my street address is not deliverable by the USPS, so I have a PO box in town and the post office receives packages on my behalf.  After signing up for the club, I realized that they would not be able to receive a shipment of alcoholic beverage labeled “Alcohol – Adult/21 Signature Required”.  I was able to contact the shipper and have my liquid indulgence redirected to my physical address, from which point my first beer shipment though GSO went without a hitch. A local driver familiar with the winter challenges in Montana was properly equipped with 4-wheel drive vehicle and had no difficulty navigating the path to my home. I was impressed.

Unfortunately, the next two shipments encountered difficulty despite the fact that my phone number was blatantly printed in address line 2. I received no phone calls, and my security system recorded no activity at the house despite the fact that tracking notes indicated failed delivery attempts had been made.

On New Year’s Eve, after several calls with the beer club and the shipper, the shipment that should have arrived mid-November finally found it’s way to my neighborhood. As part of the discovery, we learned that GSO no longer operates in Montana and was in the process of transitioning delivery to a new company called County Xpress, who was sincerely apologetic for the confusion and delays. I surmise the transition was not a smooth one.
Anyway, it sounds like the worst of it is behind us, but if you live in Montana and want to receive shipments from a beer club, make sure the shipping company is prepared to fulfill its obligations – particularly if you’re remote as many of us are.

I have to say that working with the club to straighten this out was an absolute pleasure. Their fulfillment department is genuinely concerned with not only the quality of their product, but also the customer experience from end to end, and their communication through this perplexing experience was top-notch.

I will keep you updated regarding future (hopefully uneventful) shipments.

Conclusion

As I told the club’s fulfillment department, my quest to enjoy great beer often produces great stories and I hold nothing against them or GSO/GLS or County Xpress. I’m just thankful it’s possible to participate in this amazing club from the remote reaches of Montana. And the shipment could not have arrived at a better time – what better way to bring in the new year than surrounded by loved ones and enjoying a great beer!

If you’ve thought of trying a club, perhaps this is the year to treat yourself or put it on your gift list. I highly recommend the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club because they’ve been at this since 1995, you can see their entire history of selections online, and their commitment to customer service will ensure you have a great experience. I recommend you review each of their six club offerings and find the one that fits you best!

Here’s wishing all of you a healthy and prosperous 2019!

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Mike S

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