As a fan of craft beer, I was really excited when Beer52.com got in touch and offered me a sample crate of their wares.* They are a delivery service which aim to bring small-batch, undiscovered or not easily available beers to your door each month. Your crate of 8 bottles also contains a beer snack (I like how these guys think) and a really handy beer guide with useful info about the beer, the brewer, and other beer geek facts like IBU etc. It sounded like a really great service on paper, but of course, everything depends on the beer!
I absolutely love getting things through the post. It’s probably why I’m very nearly banned from using eBay by my boyfriend and I’m already a fan of all things delivery service (I just need to find a cheese and wine supplier who ship to my door, and I will be happy forever). However I don’t think I have ever been quite so happy to see a delivery man as last Sunday, when I was suffering from quite the hangover following the wonderful wedding of Cat and Dave, and the knock at the door brought me a crate of beer. Salvation! (And Sunday delivery at no extra cost!)
Now for those of you thinking that if I was hungover I’d have gladly drunk anything and didn’t give the beer a fair test, I was a little conscious of this fact and roped in two fellow taste testers, both also craft beer-aholics, neither hungover, to help me sample the crate. It was a beautiful evening so we gathered in the garden, got ourselves some glasses (never have I been more aware of my need to expand my glassware collection, thanks to the handy infographic on the box), opened the bag of snacks and got taste-testing.
Right from the word go I was impressed by the attention to detail – the glass graphic on the box, the excellent packaging to ensure no breakages (I love a good foam wotsit), and the very comprehensive ‘Meet the Brewers’ beer guide.
We decided to sample from lightest ABV to strongest, but all the beers were in the range of 4-5.5%, so a fairly unchallenging range. I prefer my beers around this strength, but Ste said he would have liked to see something with a little more punch in there, and he thought it would be great if subscribers could give vague preference types when they sign up, in order to have their delivery tailored a little to their tastes. I personally am just happy to try offerings from microbreweries I wouldn’t otherwise have access to or know about, but this is possibly something to consider for those who are really serious about their beer. Perhaps a ‘premium service’?
Now I could wax lyrical about the particular beers that I received in the case, but I fear my amateur-ish appreciation of craft beer tasting would show through (I know what I like, but describing it sometimes can be tricky) and besides, every case will be different, which is the beauty of the service. I will mention a couple that stood out to me though. By far my favourite was the Op & Top (great name) from De Molen in the Netherlands. It has won awards and deservedly so – I could drink it all day. And all started out in Menno Olivier’s garage. Makes me feel a little less bad about all the half-finished projects languishing in my own garage. Ste has actually been thinking about giving homebrewing a go, so watch this space.
This beer also had a great label, using some lovely typography. I’m having a design-moment and am enjoying great packaging, and I got quite geekily excited at some of the beautiful labels. The ELB Pale Ale also had a really striking label that was bordering on art.
However, upon tasting it was rather too heavily sedimented for me given it was conditioned in the bottle, but it did have a good yeasty taste.
Some of the labels left me a bit cold though, such as the Anarchy and Hardknott ones, but I think perhaps I am not the usual market for this type of beer, or not who one would think of as a craft beer drinker, but hey, these days, we’re everywhere! There’s no excuse to drink rubbish lager anymore.
But I digress, back to the review. An exciting bonus in this box was the chance to finally settle the can vs bottle debate. Crafty Dan had bravely supplied a can of the same beer included in a bottle in the case, for us to see if we could taste the difference.
We all obviously had decided before we even tasted them that the beer in the can would be inferior, but Crafty Dan implored us to give it a go. So I banished the boys into the house, and poured a glass of each, and got them to come back out and blind taste test them.
Bart gave it a very fair test.
Ste, being a bit of a smart-ass, had already decided he knew which was from the can based on the size of the bubbles, but I asked him to give the taste a chance.
Of course, I also knew which was which, but despite desperately wanting the can to stack up well against the bottle, we all agreed the taste just wasn’t as good. But, it was still good. Plenty good enough to drink at festivals, picnics etc, where bottles are a pain, and plenty good enough to drink full stop really – Ste finished off the whole can. But, not as good as glass Crafty Dan, I’m sorry! We did like 13 Guns a lot though, if that’s any consolation.
At some point things got serious and scotch eggs came out.
Toto really wanted to get in on the action but we thought a drunk pug would be a bit much. She’s already nuts.
Billy just haughtily surveyed things from the safety of my lap.
Pretty soon we were left with a stack of beer caps and a table of empty bottles. A very sad moment. I’m fairly sure that you’re not really supposed to drink your entire delivery in one go, but rather savour them over the month, but in the interests of being able to write this review sometime soon we decided to test it all at once. I slightly wish we hadn’t though – the idea of always having a nice beer to discover ready and waiting for you whenever you feel like it is definitely tempting.
Beer52 offer this crate of 8 beers for £24 (including postage) and you get a delivery every month, which works out to roughly £3 a beer, which is a little more than you’d pay in the supermarket, but of course less than in a bar. I think the price is pretty spot-on, considering you are really paying to discover new beers you’d not otherwise have access to. I also really like that in the beer guide they give you all the social media and contact details of the various breweries, so if you were particularly enamoured with one, there’s always the option to try and source some more from them. And the smug factor of being able to tweet a little-known brewery about their wares in an ‘I found it first’ kind of fashion. Except you didn’t – Beer52 did and very nicely they’ve shared it with you!
If we weren’t currently watching every penny saving up for a house deposit, Ste and I would have signed up for Beer52 straight away, but we can’t really justify it at the moment. We’re looking to buy a place with a cellar, so one day…! I think it is a great service though, and if discovering new and interesting beers is more important to you than just having a generic beer, this is something you should definitely try. And if you want to do so for the bargain price of £14 for your first crate, simply enter Anna10 at the checkout,** and you too can start looking forward to the postman’s knock!
*I received the crate as a PR sample on the understanding that any review I might write would be my honest and unbiased opinion. I will only ever review products or services on this blog which I think would be of interest to my readers, and am not afraid to tell you if I think it is something to stay away from either! For more details, please see my disclosure policy.
**Beer52 are monitoring purchases made with this code – if enough of you decide to sign up, I might get a free beer or two. That’s not why I’m recommending you try the service of course, I genuinely think it’s a great deal, especially for £14!