When it comes to buying beer I’d rather sit down to one amazing beer than six mediocre ones – but you don’t tend to find those amazing ones down at the local shop.
You might find one or two favourites if you’re lucky but if you want real choice it means going to a specialist shop and, here in the UK anyway, it often means paying through the nose for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t grudge it. A lovely beer is a real treat and if it means forking out a few quid more then so be it.
But when I explored the online beer shops out there I was in beer heaven – all my favourites were just one click away and notably cheaper than the on-street retailers. The only dilemma was which one to buy from!
Don’t have a favourite
Pop on to beer forums and everyone has an opinion about the ‘best’ beer stockist, but don’t be fooled into thinking there is such a thing as the best. It all depends on exactly which beer you have your eye on.
Beers of Europe has a HUGE selection – its website lets you filter by country and you could spend hours looking through the lists. Delivery has always been prompt and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
Beer Hawk is great too and a good recommendation if you’re looking for gift sets, with a range of different themed box sets on offer. It also stocks PerfectDraft kegs which is another reason I use it. The icing on the cake is its ‘beer token’ loyalty scheme – you earn tokens with every purchase which you can cash in on future purchases. My last 12 litres of beer were basically free as I cashed in my tokens.
Shipping beer isn’t dear!
But don’t be afraid to look further afield – I used to think shipping beer over to the UK would cost a fortune but it’s not the case. In fact it’s often cheaper.
I was recently looking for Belgian quad Gulden Draak 9000 (Brouwerij Van Steenberj) and some Kwak (De Bosteels) and found it notably cheaper to ship over from Belgium. I went for Belgiuminabox which offers delivery to the UK for orders weighing up to 30kg (approx 40 bottles at 33cl). I found this out after PMing the site on Facebook and they replied really quickly to clarify costs.
I went for a case of 24 Gulden Draak 9000 and 16 bottles of Kwak and they arrived in just over a week, and cost in the region of £2 a bottle if you include shipping.
It arrived in a giant box, with the Gulden Draak 9000 packed in a crate with polystyrene around the necks of the bottles, while the Kwak bottles were all wrapped individually in corrugated cardboard for protection. There were even a couple of extras thrown in – a lovely little surprise bottle of Duvel was included with a label I’ve never seen before, and there was a Belgiuminabox fridge magnet thrown in for good measure.
I’ve yet to try some of the other sites that friends have recommended such as Belgianbeerz and Beer of Belgium but I do have my eye on some other beers they stock that I can’t get on the other sites so it’s only a matter of time.
In conclusion, do read all the recommendations and don’t be put off by those who criticise some of the bigger beer shops in favour of their niche, favourite stockist – always shop around!