Beer By Mail: The Hot Gift For Drinking Buddies Under Quarantine

Greg Kurbis lives in the Cradle of Craft Beer—Albany, Ore.—an hour from Portland and not far from Bend, both of which rank among the cities with the most breweries per capita in the U.S.

Some of his friends, spread out across the country, aren’t as lucky. So a few months ago, Kurbis decided to give one of his dearest long-distance drinking buddies a taste of home in the form of a beer subscription box. “I have a cherished friend in Ohio, and she’s unable to get some of the best beers in the West,” he says. “I signed up to send her a gift box every month. Then I decided to join.”

For years, beer subscription boxes—care packages of hard-to-find beers from small breweries delivered to your door—have been a godsend for beer lovers looking for a great gift idea or a special treat for themselves. But now that the Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered bars and taprooms, spawned long lines at liquor stores and bottle shops, and completely nixed all beer tourism, the service has become essential, and not just for thirsty consumers.

“Before, it was a great selling tool,” says Casey Bloyer, head of distribution and marketing forLaunch Pad Brewery, a small outfit in Aurora, Colo., that ships its beer through the subscription service Beer Drop. “Now that people are stuck in their homes, they can be like, ‘I remember that brewery I liked,’ and through Beer Drop, they can get that beer right to their house.”

Since the virus hit, Bloyer estimates the volume of Launch Pad beer that’s going out of state via Beer Drop has jumped 100%. Many subscription services say they’ve seen an uptick in business over the past month. Which makes sense: Who couldn’t use a beer right about now?

Like the beer in these boxes, the services come in a wide array of styles, and they’re only available in certain areas, as alcohol shipment laws are in constant flux. Here’s a menu to find the right pint for you.

Beer Drop: The place to get small-batch and taproom-exclusive cans and growlers from Colorado, the other American craft beer mecca. Tailor your preferences as you go; upper-tier members can substitute beers they don’t want. From $39 per month

Hopsy: For barflies who miss the taste of a fresh-poured draught, this might be the answer. Instead of cans and bottles, Hopsy ships 67-ounce mini kegs of craft beer that can be used only with its countertop SUB Home Tap system. It’s $200 to get started with the home tap, but watch for deals that include the hardware at a discount. $100 per month 

The Original Craft Beer Club: Choose between monthly, every-other-month, or even quarterly delivery of 12 beers, in four different styles from two featured brewers. Your shipment comes with a newsletter detailing the story of each beer along with tasting and pairing notes. $43 per month

The Rare Beer Club: One of the granddaddies of this business, founder Kris Calef actually offers five different clubs. (Others include the Microbrewed Beer Club and the Hop Head IPA Club.) The Rare Beer Club is the place to score bombers (750-ml bottles) of uncommon barrel-aged stouts, sours, and Belgian-style ales from all over the globe that will class up any connoisseur’s cellar. From $39 per month

First Sip Brew Box: Even if shipping laws prohibit you from ordering alcohol in the mail, you can still get a taste of craft-brew culture—and support small breweries—by ordering beer gear through First Sip. Its monthly boxes are packed with branded glassware, koozies, shirts, and more exotic fare, such as oatmeal stout beer jelly. From $25 per month

In the U.K.

Beer 52: Beer has always been a big deal for Brits, so it reasons that the craft beer craze would eventually make its way across the pond. This Edinburgh-based service provides subscribers in the U.K. with 8 to 10 of the best beers from all over the world every 28 days. £24 per month

In Australia

Bucket Boys :  This service gives drinkers Down Under their choice of four subscription boxes that vary depending on the level of Aussie craft-brew nerdom. For instance, the Beer Expert Box ships strictly the most interesting labels from around the world, while the Beer Geek Box throws in swag and books. A$89 per month

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