Buying Beer Online
Lee’s recent post about buying beer online from LetsPour has inspired me to talk about some of the retail craft beer sites I have used as well. Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, much like beer trading this is EXPENSIVE. Shipping costs are (understandably) insane, and I would suggest doing everything you can to keep your budget in check. It is really easy to see all these beers you really want to try and just click away. But unless you have unlimited money to spend on beer I would suggest keeping a close eye on your purchasing. Not all states will allow shipments of alcohol so check your local laws first.
I use three sites fairly regularly, visiting them about once a month to browse or when there is a specific beer I’m looking to obtain for a tasting. I will say that I like each site (which is why I return) but I will lay out the pros and cons for you.
This was the first online site that I stumbled upon. I have ordered from them 5 times and have been happy overall.
Pros: Selection. Selection. Selection. They claim to have the world’s largest selection and I wouldn’t doubt them. I have found great beers from Goose Island, Firestone Walker, Long Trail, Dogfish Head, Ithaca,and Jolly Pumpkin to name a few. I haven’t seen a lot of “rare” beers, but there are always a number of beers I want to try. Most beers are available as singles with few bottle limits, which makes it easy to get to their 1/2 case and case discounts. Boxes are packaged very well. The stock rotates frequently enough to warrant a return visit about once a month. Sign up for the email newsletter which will often contain a free shipping code you can use on larger purchases.
Cons: The biggest problem I have is that they send virtually no shipping information. You will get an email with your order info that also states that tracking info will come later in a separate email. I have never received that second email. This can be a bit frustrating since these types of legal alcohol shipments require an adult signature. On one occasion I had a larger order and did get an email stating items were out of stock, so the website might not have very accurate live updating. Then again the number of bottles that were “out of stock” was ironically the same number needed to make that shipment only one box instead of two. Can’t prove anything but I found that a strange coincidence.
I have ordered form them twice, with fantastic customer service and super fast shipping.
Pros: The best thing about these guys is the ability to order beers from Cigar City Brewing. I was also able to order the entire Dogfish Head Positive Contact box set complete with 10″ record. The selection is solid but usually doesn’t stock any true rarities.
Cons: I would say this biggest drawback to Luekens is the fact that you cannot buy 12oz singles, only big bottles or whole six packs/12 packs. If I am going to spend that much in shipping I usually like to try a variety of beers. Stick to 750’s and 22’s and you should be happy.
Sometimes location will make an online store exciting!
Pros: For me this is my favorite online store, but this is because I live on the east coast and this store is in California. I see so many amazing beers that are to me limited or unattainable. The Bruery, Russian River, 50/50, AleSmith, Cantillon, the list goes on forever. I am like a kid in a candy store when I come here so I only do when I am prepared to buy.
Cons: Since they are located across the country the shipping costs for me are pretty high. Beers tend to sell out fast, so jump all over that bottle of Cantillon when you see it. There is also a strange “bottle limit” on some of the beers. You will be required to purchase 6 or more bottles total in order to purchase certain more limited releases. So if you want that Bruery Tart of Darkness you’re gonna have to pony up for 5 more bottles of other beers to get it. That being said I did get an email after my first purchase reminding me of this (I never even noticed it when placing my order), but they were nice enough to send the order as it was. I only visit Quality when I am prepared to drop a few bucks.
I’m sure there are more great sites out there. Drop me a comment so I can check out your favorite online store!