A ranking of the best beer subscription clubs based on the personal experience of avid beer drinkers with great respect for the craft.
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What is the Best Beer Subscription Box?
When selecting a beer of the month club one might think that there isn’t too much to consider. After all they all ship a craft beer sampler box to you or a gift-recipient of your choice and one way or another make the claim that the beers they offer are the best of the best.
As life long beer aficionados we have been members of numerous beer clubs over the years. Our experiences, past and present, include very local clubs, that only have enough beer to distribute to the few surrounding counties, sophisticated nationwide operations with selections encompassing a variety of styles and breweries from all over the world, and clubs that are laser focused on unique, limited edition brews created specifically for their members and not available to anyone else.
And while other lists you will see floating about the Internet are often put together by a staffer with a deadline to publish something just before the holidays, our list is based on our personal experience, over time, and very careful consideration and comparison between clubs. From the perspective of avid beer drinkers and cost conscious consumers of the product/service we stand behind our opinion and rankings as presented below.
(We do not include local beer clubs with very limited geo distribution even though many such brewery specific clubs are a joy to experience and very reasonably priced (for example the Cellar Club of New Belgium, the Connoisseur’s Pack of which we joined at its inception and are current members of).
It stands to reason that the best beer subscription depends on the particular criteria of the member, therefore all judgments passed here are highly subjective. There are however several key factors that dominate our decision process and help us with our particular ranking, namely:
- selection (variety) & quality of the brews – the actual beer offered is at the core of choosing a beer subscription
- value for money (including shipping) – while some beer box memberships offer free shipping the overall cost per month is quite high
- flexibility & ease of modifying (or canceling) the subscription – we also consider the option to order supplemental beer of any style shipped
- execution of the service & customer care – how well is the monthly membership managed, quality and sturdiness of packaging, care of packaging (we don’t want to see sloppy beer labels, dusty bottles etc.); how well is delivery handled… the works. Is anyone perfect all the time? Clearly not, mistakes can be made and hick-ups encountered even by the best. The question is – how are they handled if they occur. Customer care matters a lot and so does the attitude with which it is delivered – we take note.
Based on the above criteria we have summarized our ranking below.
TOP 5 Beer Subscription Box Services
- Rare Beer Club
- International Beer Club / US and International Beer Club (a tie)
- Design Your Own Club
- Craft Beer Kings
Now let’s get to the support.
This club is ran by MonthlyClubs.com and is their premier beer club. In our experience it is very, very well managed and has the most unique beers. Over the years we have been so impressed by every aspect of this club that it easily makes the top of our list. You can read our extensive review or visit the Rare Beer Club sign-up page for more detailed information.
Our Rare Beer Club Evaluation is 20/20 (Selection: 5/5 | Value for money: 5/5 | Flexibility: 5/5 | Execution/customer care: 5/5 )
Virtually a tie here between two very similar clubs – one offering only international beers (2 styles a month, six 12 oz beers per style) and the other one offering identical international selections but supplemented with quality domestic micro-brews (4 styles total, 2 international, 2 domestic, three 12 oz beers per style). We designate you as the tie breaker. Read our detailed review of these Beers of the World clubs or visit their sign-up pages: International or US & International.
Our International/US & International Beer Clubs Evaluation is 18.5/20 (Selection: 4.5/5 | Value for money: 4/5 | Flexibility: 5/5 | Execution/customer care: 5/5 )
This club allows you to customize a beer of the month experience across 5 different craft beer clubs (the three mentioned above and two more) as well as monthly clubs offering cheese, and more. Unparalleled flexibility. The overall cost is a bit on the luxury side but the results are worth it. For example you can create a membership that sends Rare Beer Club brews one month, Gourmet Cheeses the next, then International Beers, then a pause of a month or two, then perhaps another Rare Beer Club shipment and so on. You can learn all the details here.
Our Design Your Own Beer Club Evaluation is 17.5/20 (Selection: 4.5/5 | Value for money: 3.5/5 | Flexibility: 5/5 | Execution/customer care: 5/5 )
Tavour offers a choice from several preselected beer gift boxes (organized by style) or a variety gift box. They all come from US breweries and emphasize the most popular craft beer styles – IPAs, stouts, sours. Shipping is included in the cost, but the number of beers included per box varies. You can view their options here.
Our Tavour Evaluation is 14.5/20 (Selection: 4/5 | Value for money: 3/5 | Flexibility: 4/5 | Execution/customer care: 3.5/5 )
This is a very flexible, low commitment option for beer lovers who are really in tune with their own preferences and have knowledge about various popular breweries. The gift boxes are organized by beer style or a certain theme – for example Sours, Hazy IPAs, Stouts or Dark Beers, California Beers etc. The focus is demonstrably on trendy beers and creativity in their making and less so on classic styles.
The Craft Beer Kings subscription boxes are on the expensive side, even with the shipping included. A typical 6-can box is $59.99 (with some well above, for example barrel-aged beers) and a 12-can box is $99.99. You can take a look at the complete selection of Craft Beer King gift boxes.
Our Craft Beer Kings Club Evaluation is 13/20 (Selection: 4/5 | Value for money: 1.5/5 | Flexibility: 4/5 | Execution/customer care: 3.5/5 )
NOTE: There is an important reason you don’t see ‘plain vanilla’ beer of the month clubs in our top 5. Many beer clubs work with a well-defined pool of breweries around the US and source from them on a regular basis. There is nothing wrong with the breweries within the contingent, they offer decent product and many of them rely on supplying garden variety beer of the month clubs as a key revenue source. What we have personally found out is that because of their method of sourcing beer from the same contingent of producers these clubs tend to ship nearly identical selections within any running 45-60 day period. At one time we had 3 different US craft beer of the month subscriptions at the same time and literally received the same beer from each of them, give or take a style.