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Often, your beer selection is limited to what’s available at your local store or by delivery, and big-name brands often tend to take up the lion’s share of the real estate on shelves and in fridges. The familiarity and consistency that come with, say, a PBR or Miller Lite, make for an undeniable comfort zone, but there’s something about exploring the world of craft beer that offers its own appeal and allure.
It’s not always so easy or straightforward to broaden your palate given local availability, and that’s where a good subscription service comes in. Signing up for a regular beer delivery curated to your tastes and objectives is not only convenient but can often come at a relatively reasonable price tag (not to mention make a great gift for a beer lover who already has it all). Here’s our selection of the top craft beer clubs.
Every element of the Beer Drop member experience is just plain fun. At signup, new members are prompted to select five of their favorite beer styles that will go in their first custom box (malty, Belgian, fruit-forward, dark, hoppy, and more), and the next step gives a choice of three subscription formats.
On the more affordable and no-frills end, there’s the standard Beer Drop box, which costs about $40 per month and includes two servings of beer for each of the five chosen categories. The middle-of-the-road option, Beer Drop Plus, is around $50 monthly and is essentially the Beer Drop box with a few choice perks: upgrades on two of the five beer selections, the freedom to swap the selected beers out for some of your own choices, and on top of that, you’ll sometimes see more than two servings per category.
The top tier membership level is Beer Drop Ultimate, which clocks in at about $65 per month and offers all of the perks of the Beer Drop Plus membership, plus upgrades on all five categories. You can also access special releases and taproom-only brews through Beer Drop Plus and Beer Drop Ultimate; all membership levels come with personalized recommendations and $5 flat-rate shipping. If you decide that you’d like to change your membership, you can do so at any time.
Variety is the spice of life for Craft Beer Kings, a Los Angeles-based retailer and subscription service created for lovers of craft beers of all kinds.
To get started, you’ll choose one of the many available themes; IPA, stout, sour, barrel-aged, and hazy are just a few of the options to pick from, with a handful of combination themes also available in case you don’t want to stick to just one style. All of the subscriptions start at about $60 per month for a six-can shipment (aside from the barrel-aged beer club, which costs around $150 for six bottles), and shipping is always included, which is a huge plus.
The only downside is that there are no options to change the shipping frequency or to select a set amount of deliveries—if you only want three boxes, for example, you’ll have to wait until the third package arrives and then cancel before you’re charged for the next one.
On the other hand, the à la carte selection is out of this world, so you can always do a bit of freestyle shopping between boxes. All clubs through Craft Beer Kings are shippable to most states.
If you’re a fan of award-winning and hard-to-find domestic beers, free shipping, and swag, Beer Across America should be right up your alley.
This club has been around since 1992, and it has this down to a science from all angles. Every month, you’ll receive 12 American craft beer bottles along with a complimentary personalized bottle opener in every box. Combined with roughly a $40 per month price tag, which doesn’t seem to be inflated to cover the included shipping (judging by market standards), these guys almost seem too good to be true.
Within each box, the selection breaks down into varieties from two featured breweries, which you can read up on via the Beer Across America newsletter, highlighting the breweries’ history and each bottle’s tasting notes, fun facts, and the like. Best of all, you’re not locked into this subscription in any way—you can skip a box or cancel your membership at any time without penalty, or you can get in touch with their top-rated customer service team seven days a week for help.
Want to send this as a gift (to someone other than yourself)? The process is simple and straightforward, and your recipient will be notified via a custom announcement on the same day.
Founded by late beer critic Michael James Jackson, The Rare Beer Club’s name pretty much says it all.
Every month, members receive two, four, or six 750-milliliter bottles of hand-picked, limited release artisanal beers from places both common and unexpected in terms of beer production. Its whole philosophy, aside from bringing you bottles you might not be able to discover on your own, is to incorporate variety into everyday beer drinking in every sense of the word.
This club pays close attention to keeping each shipment’s bottles diverse from one another in style and country of origin, and it strives to strike a balance between domestic and international selections. The same applies to the month-by-month selection process, meaning you’ll see that continuity in every box.
One of the best features of The Rare Beer Club is its Personalized Shipment Program wherein members can preview upcoming bottle selections and change things up (or skip a month completely). The idea theoretically is that “you’ll never get a beer that you [don’t] want.” The two-bottle monthly subscription costs about $39 per month, while the four-bottle option comes out to roughly $56 monthly, and the six-bottle shipments are around $73 per month.
Subscribers can choose the number of boxes they’d like to receive or gift or can opt for an ongoing membership. There are also other options for delivery frequency in case monthly is too often for your taste. Either way, be sure to keep an eye out for promo codes, as they often pop up on the website.
Let’s say you’re exclusively interested in checking out beers from outside the United States—there’s a club for that. From the very same people behind Rare Beer Club comes every imported beer nerd’s dream: regular deliveries of craft beers from faraway lands like Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and more, all selected by an expert panel with more than 100 combined years of experience in the field.
To put it into perspective, this team tastes more than 500 beers annually, and under 20% of that actually ends up on members’ doorsteps. As a result, you can expect to see words like small-batch, seasonal, exclusive, and collaborative surrounding these ultra-high-quality beers.
Pricing for this club is $38 a month for a dozen 12-ounce bottles, and shipping is $15. And, like its rare beer counterpart, a free bottle opener comes with orders of three shipments or more, as well as information on flavor profiles, breweries, and things of that nature.
In addition to The International Beer Club and The Rare Beer Club, these guys also offer several other beer-themed clubs, including The U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club, The Hop-Heads Beer Club, and a hybrid club featuring both international and domestic beer selections. Outside of beer (in case you like to have a snack alongside your brew), they’ve also got a cheese club and chocolate club, to name a few, as well as an option to design your own experience.
What Are Craft Beer Clubs?
A craft beer club is just like any recurring product delivery service, just with a focus on small, passionate brewers versus larger name brands. These clubs are typically easy and straightforward to use—you’ll choose the format that best suits your needs and preferences and receive your selection on a regular basis.
You can also gift a craft beer subscription to someone else as a fun and creative gesture, especially when you’re struggling to choose a gift for a beer lover who already has it all (nobody can argue with a box of curated cans or bottles showing up on their doorstep every month.) Often, these subscription services will offer membership flexibility, meaning you can cancel or skip boxes without penalty and dive in without worry.
How Much Do Craft Beer Clubs Cost?
Craft beer clubs tend to hover around the same range when it comes to pricing—you’re generally looking at around $40 per box, and then there’s shipping (most beer subscriptions do not include it, so that’s something to consider).
Shipping tends to range from about $5 per box on the lower end and roughly $15 on the higher side of things, though of course there will always be an outlier here and there. There are many services to choose from, each at their own price points. We’ve simply curated our top picks to help get you started.
Which Types of Craft Beers Are Included in a Craft Beer Club Subscription?
This completely depends on the type of club you choose. It’s all about your preferences and goals—do you want to discover new international beers or expand your domestic beer knowledge and palate? Do you prefer cans or bottles? Are you an IPA person or do you prefer a stout? Let these questions guide your selection process, and you’ll find a club that suits your needs, whether from or outside of this list.
How We Chose the Best Craft Beer Clubs
With our top picks, we aimed to provide a balance between craft beer clubs that have been around for the better part of two decades and modern concepts that channel a more present-day ethos, both stylistically and aesthetically speaking.
With three subscription formats and a brand that's just plain fun, the Beer Drop earned our title of best overall. The International Beer Club stood out for its worldly choices and The Rare Beer Club was the best luxury option.
On this list, there's something for everyone regardless of budget, tastes, and lifestyle needs. And though subscriptions are inherently regimented, we made sure to find clubs that offer varying degrees of flexibility because things change and it’s always helpful to have options. Buying craft beers means supporting the small producers around the country and the world, and that’s never been more important than now.