Cast your mind back to 2013 – Edward Snowden disclosed information about the U.S. government’s mass surveillance program to the media, Prince George was born and Nelson Mandela passed away. Also, Scottish entrepreneurs James Brown (not that one) and Fraser Doherty created Beer52.com – a UK based craft beer club, delivering a curated selection of craft beer to subscribers every month.
It was also the year that I properly deepened my obsession with all things beer and so, like a sign from the Gods (or just a very obvious gift for someone that likes beer), I was given a 3 month subscription to Beer52 as a Christmas present in December 2013.
The premise is simple, for £24 a month you receive 8 beers delivered to your door. I have been subscribed (on and off) since January 2014 and the service has seen a marked improvement from the early days.
Initially the beers provided had no real theme and it was very much pot luck as to what was going to turn up each month. Whilst I enjoyed this approach (I got to try lots of beers I wouldn’t have), it did result in being sent the same beers a few times in a row and meant the quality of beer was somewhat lacking. However, this all changed around two years ago when the boxes were given a rethink. I like to think they read my mind but the reality is, people less lazy than me probably provided some useful feedback.
The monthly boxes have changed – there is now a different theme every month, an excellent 100-page magazine called FERMENT and free snacks. The theme usually revolves around a country or location (previous boxes have covered Scotland, Berlin, Northern England, Colorado, Denmark and Belgium to name a few) which makes for a much more coherent and inclusive experience.
Trawling our Instagram for recent boxes will give you an idea on the content of what to expect each month. Here are a choice few:
The Northern England box – a great selection and it only further cemented my desire to make a trip Oop North as soon as possible.
The Belgian box. A mixture of beers I have had before (I have been to Belgium a few times so chances were high) and totally new ones made this a decent box.
The Norway box. The first time it’s been cans only (by no means a bad thing). This turned up today so I’m pretty excited to tuck into these this month. The artwork on some of these cans are excellent.
The aforementioned FERMENT magazine has also improved upon its original newsletter style approach. The magazine reflects the monthly theme with articles on the breweries featured in the box as well as news on the latest beer trends and interviews with up and coming breweries. However, some pieces are clearly paid for advertising but that’s a minor niggle and probably a necessary evil in order to produce the magazine. Regular writers include beer writing heavyweights Matthew Curtis, Melissa Cole and Pete Brown so the in-depth features are of a very high quality and usually dead interesting.
In recent months, Beer52 have redesigned their packaging to a smaller, newer branded box which is fantastic. It’s tiny enough to carry under one arm and makes recycling much easier than wrestling with a huge cardboard box when the time comes to fit it in your recycling box/bin/whatever.
The beer club subscription service has grown exponentially since 2013 with many online beer websites offering their own take such as Honest Brew, Beerhawk and Flavourly to name a few.
With the wealth of options available and Beer52.com’s customer base being so large (12,000+ at the time of writing this), it’ll be interesting to see if Beer52.com can maintain the quality of their service; being one of the UK’s biggest beer subscription service is both a blessing and a curse – an expanded customer base means sourcing unique or rare beers to ship to such a large group of subscribers could prove to be a bit of a nightmare. And therein lies, my problem. Being a beer wanker, I’ve found myself hunting out more and more exciting, newly released beer online (FOMO is strong with this one) and so my needs for a subscription service are slowly decreasing. Saying that, I probably have Beer52.com to thank for my unending desire to try as many different beers as I possibly can – so cheers Beer52.com!
I think Beer52.com is a great beer subscription service for people discovering craft beer and is an excellent introduction to a new world of beers you likely won’t get down your local.