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Your Ultimate Guide to Buying a Beer of the Month Club (as a Gift)

Beers on a bottling line

Despite what some other websites say, beer of the month clubs actually do make awesome gifts for beer lovers — if you pick the right beer club for the right beer drinker!

We’ve been reviewing beer subscription services for over 5 years and we can tell you that people love to give them and since there are a lot of repeat customers, we assume beer drinkers love receiving them.

Step 1 - Know your beer lover

When shopping for a beer gift of any kind, but especially a beer of the month club because it’s a commitment, we recommend starting with understanding your beer lover. We’ll help you sort it out whether you’re a beer expert yourself or you think all beer tastes the same.

There are three general categories that beer lovers fall into these days (and we do mean general). Please read all three so you make sure you know which category to be shopping in:

Domestic Beer Lovers, Imported Beer Lovers, Craft Beer Lovers

Domestic Beer Lovers

Import & Domestic Beers

What is domestic beer? Domestic beer refers to beer made in the United States and that is produced in very large quantities. Think Budweiser, Coors, and Michelob (there are many others). Domestic beer is best characterized by a light flavor that’s easy to drink and not especially bitter — BreweryDB calls this American-Style Light (Low-Calorie) Lager. These are the beers served at every sports venue in the country, at most bars and restaurants, and are therefore the top selling beers across the country.

All of this is to say they’re a very popular style of beer but be warned, if you are buying for a craft beer lover, do NOT under any circumstances, unless they ask for it by name, buy them domestic beer (unless you’re trying to pick a fight). There aren’t any beer clubs particularly well-suited to domestic beer lovers, but we can certainly recommend a few one-time domestic beer gifts.

Import Beer Lovers

What are import beers? Import beers are produced in other countries and brought into the United States. This group of beers generally refers to large-production beers like Heineken, Stella Artois, Corona, and Asahi. Beer has been around for thousands of years, so naturally there are hundreds of beer styles in the mash-up category of “imported beer.”

Typically, import beers are dry lager-style beers or “international style pilsners.” Like their large-production domestic counterparts, many of these beers are served at sports venues, in most bars and restaurants, and sell well at retail outlets like grocery stores and big box stores.

If you’re buying for an imported beer lover, there are a couple of terrific choices for international beer lovers willing to branch out to more styles from smaller producers. We have two recommendations for international beer subscriptions: The International Beer Club and The Rare Beer Club.

Craft Beer Lovers

Craft Beer Tasting

What are craft beers? It depends on who you ask, but we’re going to go out on a limb here and stick with the definition provided by the Brewers Association — beer produced using traditional or innovative beer ingredients in small quantities by independent breweries. Craft beer drinking is about discovery of new flavors and styles, it’s about supporting the little guy, and it’s about creating a sense of community. Rather than list off a bunch of craft beers (there were, in 2016, more than 5,200 craft breweries in the country) we’re going to to give you some other tools define your craft beer lover and help you find the right beer subscription.

Only IPA - Far and away the most popular style of craft beer produced in America, IPA drinkers are in a league of their own. Many will order any IPA just because it’s an IPA, some want to try every famous IPA the second it becomes available for sale, and others will travel the country to visit breweries and try more IPAs. Often times IPA lovers will wax poetic about their favorite hops as this where the IPA-flavor comes from. These are specialists and you should choose the right beer clubs for them. There are three beer clubs we recommend for IPA-only drinkers: Hop Heads and Tavour.

The Weirder the Better - These craft beer lovers seek out all of the crazy Frankenstein beers they can find. They’ll go nuts about the latest beers fermented in oak-aged barrels, or beers made with unusual ingredients like watermelon, habanero peppers, bacon, and coconut. They often love beers with creative names and sexy labels (just like wine drinkers), trade beers with friends, and buy seasonal beers that are only available a few months a year. For these beer drinkers, there is one beer subscription that will make their hands clap — Tavour.

The Locavore - Locavores prefer their local brewpubs and microbreweries to all others, primarily because they really enjoy the camaraderie of hanging out at the pub with other beer lovers and truly want to support their local brewmasters. These are passionate beer lovers who feel a pride of ownership in their local brewpubs (even if they don’t actually own a piece of the action). We don’t recommend buying beer gifts online for locavores. If you live near your beer lover, go down to a local brewpub (either their favorite or one they have been meaning to try) and ask them what kinds of gifts you can buy (we recommend a gift certificate, but they might have their own in-house beer club or membership program, or paraphernalia like t-shirts and growlers).

Okay, so if you’re still here, that means your beer lover is an Imported Beer Lover or Craft Beer Lover who is not a Locavore. Cool! Let’s talk about the available beer clubs.

Step 2 - The Beer Clubs

Beer subscription services have been around since the 1990s and for much of that time the number of available options has been all over the map. Right now is a good time to give a beer subscription because there is a nice selection of them on the market, each catering to a different kind of beer drinker (and beer gift giver).

Tavour, a Different Kind of Beer Subscription

Tavour Beer Subscription Shipment

We think Tavour is the ultimate craft beer subscription. It’s less a beer of the month club and more a highly-specialized beer store that ships outrageous and extremely hard-to-find cult beer each month.

Here’s how Tavour works as a gift:

  1. You buy gift credits - the perfect way for you to spend exactly what you want to;
  2. Your beer lover downloads the Tavour app and gets notified of sumptuous beers available for purchase;
  3. When he finds something too good to pass up, he makes a request to add it to his monthly box;
  4. At the end of the month, a box full of his favorite selections from the month is shipped to his home or office.

Some recent Tavour selections: Matame Ahorita, an oak-aged wild Alaska fruit beer brewed with Alaskan sea salt and fermented with wild blueberries and apples; Fruit Basket Imperial IPA, a seasonal release from Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing; Demon & The Fairy Sour Imperial Stout from Three Magnets Brewing in Washington.

Give a Tavour Subscription See Where Tavour Ships

Hop Heads IPA Beer Club

Hop Heads IPA Beer Subscription Shipment

For lovers of hoppy beers (IPAs of course, but also other hoppy styles like Session beers, pale ale, red ale, and DIPA), this is a great beer of the month club. Unlike Tavour where the recipient picks their own beers, the beers from the Hop Heads club are pre-selected by a team of beer fanatics who scours the country looking for great hoppy beers (mostly IPAs).

Here’s how Hop Heads Beer Club works as a gift:

  1. You buy a gift subscription of whatever length you choose, from 2-12 months;
  2. You choose which month shipments should begin;
  3. You choose how often shipments should be delivered (monthly, every other month, or quarterly);
  4. You choose to pay in one installment or as each shipment goes out;
  5. Each month (or whichever frequency of shipments you chose) a box of hoppy beer is delivered to his or her home or office.

Some recent Hop Heads selections: Ellicottville’s Stainless Steel IPA with pineapple and other tropical fruit tones, featuring a blend of Zeus, Bravo, Cascade, Denali, Columbus, and Citra hops; Ellicottville’s Keepin’ it Peel Citrus IPA with grapefruit and lime peel, featuring Centennial and Citra hops; Stemaier’s IPA hopped up with Centennial, Cascade, and Nugget hops.

Give a Hop Heads Subscription See Where Hop Heads Ships

The Original Craft Beer Club

The Original Craft Beer Club Shipment

When it comes to simplicity of buying, and drinking, we think The Original Craft Beer Club is a top choice for a beer of the month club. In addition to a wide-ranging selection of craft beer styles and breweries, the prices are moderate and they offer all kinds of bonus gifts when you give longer subscriptions.

Here’s how The Original Craft Beer Club works as a gift:

  1. You choose to give 12 or 24 beers each month (4 styles, either 3 or 6 of each);
  2. You buy a gift subscription of whatever length you choose, from 1-12 months;
  3. All subscriptions come with a complimentary 1-year digital subscription to Beer Connoisseur magazine. Additionally:
    • Gifts of 3-months or more include a free ergonomic beer opener;
    • Gifts of 6-months or more include a free set of fun coasters and the beer opener in #4;
    • Gifts of 12-months or more get a $25 discount and include both bonus gifts in #5;
  4. You choose how often shipments should be delivered (monthly, every other month, or quarterly);
  5. You choose which month shipments should begin;
  6. You pay in one installment;
  7. Each month (or whichever frequency of shipments you chose) a box of delicious craft beer is delivered to his or her home or office.

The Original Craft Beer Club doesn’t list the beers they’ve shipped on their website, but they do include which breweries they’ve worked with. Here is a recent selection of breweries offered by the Craft Beer Club: Full Tilt Brewing, 16 Mile Brewing, Sweetwater Brewing, Peak Organic Brewing, and Centennial Beer Company.

Give a Craft Beer Subscription See Where Craft Beer Ships

The Rare Beer Club

The Rare Beer Club Assortment

The history of this beer club is storied, as it was founded by a gentleman named Michael Jackson (not that one) back in the day when it was truly difficult to find great craft beer in most markets, especially in large-format bottles (mostly 750ml, like wine bottles). Many years ago, a subscription gift company called Monthly Clubs bought The Rare Beer Club from Mr. Jackson and has worked tirelessly to keep the same spirit of sending out rare and special beers in 750ml bottles.

These days you can find large-format beers in most markets, but you won’t find the selections from The Rare Beer Club anywhere — many are imported from international craft brewers and are not otherwise available in the United States, some are brewed and bottled just for The Rare Beer Club or released to The Rare Beer Club before they’re available more widely.

Here’s how The Rare Beer Club works as a gift:

  1. Choose two, four, or six bottles per shipment (2 styles, either 1, 2, or 3 of each);
  2. You buy a gift subscription of whatever length you choose, from 2-12 months;
  3. You choose which month shipments should begin;
  4. You choose how often shipments should be delivered (monthly, every other month, or quarterly);
  5. You choose to pay in one installment or as each shipment goes out;
  6. Each month (or whichever frequency of shipments you chose) a box of rare beer is delivered to his or her home or office.

Recent selections from The Rare Beer Club: [exclusive] Reserve Series Rosé from Calicraft Brewing, a sparkling ale made with Zinfandel must (freshly pressed grape juice) and raspberries; Doppel Alt from Golden Prairie Fermentations, an Imperial Altbier with a lot of candied aromas and a fruit-forward yeasty character; Brouwerij de Brabandere Wild Tripel Ale, never before sold in the US, made with Amarillo and Cascade hops, blended with Foederbeer aged 24 months in oak foeders (big barrels).

Give a Rare Beer Subscription See Where Rare Beer Ships

The International Beer Club

International Microbrew Subscription Shipment

For someone who loves imported beers, but is willing to try new things, we recommend the International Beer Club. Brought to you by the same team who tirelessly sources hoppy beers for The Hop Heads Club and special beers for The Rare Beer Club, this is their take on international microbrews.

Each shipment contains 6 bottles each of 2 styles of international craft beer. We feel the biggest drawback to this beer subscription is the lack of variety. On the flip side, these are new and unique beers in the American market and the discovery factor is still worth it.

Here’s how The International Beer Club works as a gift:

  1. You buy a gift subscription of whatever length you choose, from 2-12 months;
  2. You choose which month shipments should begin;
  3. You choose how often shipments should be delivered (monthly, every other month, or quarterly);
  4. You choose to pay in one installment or as each shipment goes out;
  5. Each month (or whichever frequency of shipments you chose) a box of hoppy beer is delivered to his or her home or office.

Recent selections from The International Beer Club: Brouwerij Alken-Maes was featured with two beers, the Grimbergen Double (a darker Belgian Double Ale) and the Grimbergen Blonde (a copper-colored Belgian Blonde Ale); Brouwerij de Brabandere Bavik Super Pils, a German-style Pilsner from Belgium; and Pivovar Samson Praga Dark Lager (a malt-forward Dunkel) from the Czech Republic.

Give an International Beer Subscription See Where International Beer Ships

The Make Your Own Beer Club!

Design Your Own Beer Club

Wait, what’s that? So The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club (the company who proudly ships the Hop Heads, The Rare Beer Club, The International Beer Club, and a couple of others, too) lets you create your own magical beer club. You can customize one shipment from each, or alternate between Hop Heads and Rare Beer, or really any combination you can think of.

They also offer a terrific Wine of the Month Club, Cheese of the Month Club, Cigar Club, and a Chocolate Club — and you can mix those in, too. Go have fun making your own extra-special beer club!

Give a Make Your Own Beer Subscription See Where Make Your Own Beer Club Ships

Other Beer of the Month Clubs

You know what? That’s only seven beer clubs we’ve talked about and we’re going to stop there. Why? Well, there are a few reasons…

  • We don’t want to lose you as there’s more reading to do about giving a beer club as a gift
  • Some of the other beer clubs are very similar to these, but we’ve shown you the best choices
  • Some of the beer clubs are not very good and rather than call them out as such, we’re just not talking about them at all

Step 3 - Check that your beer club selection can ship to your beer lover

United States alcohol shipping laws are complex so not all beer clubs can ship beer to every state. The origin of this issue dates back to the repeal of Prohibition and it affects wine and spirits, too. Each type of alcohol has separate rules for every state in the country, so it becomes important for you, the consumer, to make sure you can ship your chosen beer club to your favorite beer lover.

Fortunately we’ve made this pretty easy — see the lists below to check if that club ships to your beer lover's state. Please note: We make every effort to keep this list up to date but recent changes to shipping policies at FedEx and UPS are causing lists to fluctuate wildly. At the time of purchase you may find our information is outdated, and we apologize in advance if that happens.

Step 4 - Determine how many months you can afford (Or how much it costs to ship a beer club)

Now that you’ve verified you can send the perfect beer subscription to your favorite beer lover, let’s figure out how much you’ll spend.

If you chose Hopsy or Tavour, you’ll probably be purchasing a gift certificate (electronic gift card) so you’ll spend exactly what you want. For the rest of the beer clubs, here’s how far your money will go.

Under $50

Original Craft Beer Club - 1 shipment
All other subscriptions - no gifts under $50
One-time beer gifts Under $50

$50-100

All subscriptions - 2 shipments
One-time beer gifts Under $100

$100-150

All subscriptions - 3 shipments
One-time beer gifts Under $150

$150-200

All subscriptions - 4 shipments
One-time beer gifts Over $150

More than $200

All subscriptions - 5+ shipments
One-time beer gifts Over $200

Step 5 - Decide when to buy your gift (and announce it)

Each beer club company has its own way of helping you announce your gift. We’ll walk you through it so you know when to purchase your gift and how you’ll announce it.

The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club

Hop Heads, International, Rare Beer, and Make Your Own

You can order any time, and you can control some aspects of the first delivery:

  • Have the order ship ASAP: Beer shipments usually arrive in the last week of each month, a specific delivery date cannot be selected (because once the beer leaves their warehouse, they no longer control the delivery). Due to unique challenges required to deliver beer in certain regions, occasionally the first shipment of a membership can take an additional 1-2 weeks to arrive depending on when your order was placed.
  • Pick the month the first shipment arrives based on this information: You can choose your start month, so you should plan to start shipments the month AFTER the big day — especially if the big day is in December.

When and how to announce your gift:

  • Email or print it yourself: The process is the same for creating the announcement:
    • You specify who it’s for and who it’s from
    • You create a personal gift message (up to 500 characters) to be included in the announcement
    • You tell them what is coming (which club you purchased, how many shipments they’ll be getting, when the first shipment will arrive, and how often they’ll be getting shipments)
  • You can have the message emailed to the recipient immediately or pick any future calendar date for email delivery
  • Download and print a PDF with the information you provided and give it to your favorite beer lover in person
Give a Hop Heads Subscription Give a Rare Beer Subscription Give an International Beer Subscription Give a Make Your Own Beer Subscription

The Original Craft Beer Club

You can order any time, and you can control some aspects of the first delivery:

  • Have the order ship ASAP: The first shipment SHOULD arrive within 10-15 business days (M-F) from when you ordered.
  • Pick the month the first shipment arrives based on this information: You can choose your start month, so you should plan to start shipments the month AFTER the big day — especially if the big day is in December. The purchase will be charged to your credit card within the first week of the month, and the shipment will arrive within 10-15 business days thereafter.

When and how to announce your gift:

  • Mail a Greeting Card ($2.50) - A greeting card will be mailed separately from the first shipment of beer and will be delivered 5-7 days from the date you place your order, regardless of when the first delivery ships. You can include a personalized gift message up to 200 characters.
  • Include a Greeting Card in the first box ($1.99) - A greeting card will be included in the first shipment of beer. You can include a personalized gift message up to 200 characters.
  • Print it yourself (free):
    • Choose a photo from a selection of beer photos
    • You tell them what is coming (which club you purchased, how many shipments they’ll be getting, when the first shipment will arrive, and how often they’ll be getting shipments)
    • You specify who it’s for
    • You create a personal gift message to be included in the announcement
    • Download and print a PDF with the information you provided and give it to your favorite beer lover in person
Give a Craft Beer Subscription

Hopsy

If you’re giving a membership to The SUB Club, you won’t be purchasing a gift. The club memberships are only set up as “ongoing” and for yourself. That shouldn’t stop you from giving this AWESOME beer club, but it does mean you’ll need remember to cancel the membership when you’ve spent however much you wanted to spend and you’re on your own with a gift announcement.

Hopsy E-Gift Cards are only delivered via email and they are delivered immediately when you complete your order, so you should order the gift the day you want your beer lover to know about it. You must provide the recipient’s email address since they will need to redeem the gift to set up their account. Then they can decide how to spend the money, whether they sign up for one of the beer subscriptions or they just buy a SUB and beer torps when they want them.

Give a Hopsy Subscription

Tavour

Tavour gift subscriptions are given as gift cards. You choose the amount, from $25-1000, and add a personal note to be included in the gift announcement. Here’s how you’ll do it:

  1. Select a gift amount
  2. Verify the beer lover lives in a zip code Tavour can deliver beer to
  3. Choose email card gift delivery or have a gift notice mailed
    • If you email it: You’ll need your beer lover’s email address; Gift cards are automatically emailed immediately after purchase.
    • If you mail it: You’ll need your beer lover’s address; Gift cards are mailed within 1 day of purchase.
  4. Tell them who it’s from
  5. Add a gift message (up to 250 characters)
Give a Tavour Subscription

That’s It!

You now know everything you need to know in order to select and give a beer of the month club to your favorite beer lover. If we’ve missed something, please check the Frequently Asked Questions below or contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why the beer club naysayers?
Answer: There are a few reasons why some websites believe you shouldn't partake (for yourself or as a gift) in beer clubs. We disagree with all of them, and here's why:

Claim 1: Beer clubs are too expensive. Do you pay more for some beers when purchased through a beer club vs at the store? Sometimes, but more often than not beer clubs are delivering beer you don't have access to locally, so how do put a price on access?

Claim 2: The beer may not be fresh. We haven't seen issues with or complaints of stale beer from the beer clubs we recommend. It used to be a problem with some beer clubs, but not all of them.

Claim 3: They take the social aspect out of beer. Ummmmm, we drink beer at home so we don't have to go out and be social. And getting some of your beer from beer of the month clubs doesn't preclude you from asking your friends what they're drinking.

Claim 4: They're no longer necessary. Strictly speaking this may be true, but if you want to give someone a nice beer gift, subscriptions are a cool way to do it. And again, you get access to exclusive or hard-to-find beers through our recommended beer clubs, so they're still providing a service that grocery stores and other stores where you buy beer don't.

Question: What is craft beer and why do I care?
Answer: Craft beer implies it was made using time-honored traditions (and some new innovative spins) in relatively small quantities by brewmasters who have the freedom to make any beer they choose. This standard is put forth by the Brewers Association. For your purposes, think of craft beer as creative and artisanal.

As a gift giver, the only reason you care about what craft beer is should be that you’re buying for a self-professed craft beer lover and you want to give a gift they want to receive. As a beer drinker there are many reasons to care about craft beer, but we find the two most common are: preferring small, local breweries to large, multinational breweries and preferring to drink lots of different styles and flavors of beer.

Question: Why can’t all beer clubs ship to every state?
Answer: Consumers aren’t considered in the three-tier alcohol distribution system — the three tiers are producer (breweries, wineries, and distilleries), wholesaler or importer, and retailer or restaurant. The shipping laws, established after Prohibition was repealed, protect these entities. In the age of online shopping, we hope these laws change soon in order to allow more widespread delivery of yummy beer to regions not currently served.

Some beer clubs go the extra mile to ensure delivery everywhere they possibly can. Others don’t have the resources and focus on providing their service where it makes sense to financially (i.e. there are enough potential customers to justify whatever hoops they have to jump through).

Question: Why do all shipments require an adult signature?
Answer: This one is pretty straightforward. The delivery service (FedEx, UPS, or some other local delivery service) is technically “serving” you alcohol when it gets delivered. Since you have to be 21 years old to buy alcohol, you have to be 21 years old to take delivery of it. The signature requirement is a certification that you are indeed 21 years old.

Question: What happens if my favorite beer lover is not home when it’s delivered?
Answer: Depending on the delivery service and the beer club, 2-3 more delivery attempts will be made and then the beer will be returned to the beer club. There may be fees for this.

How to avoid this problem…

Option 1: Have their beer shipments sent to their place of business if this is allowed. It ensures an adult is available for signature and that your beer lover gets their beer quickly.

Option 2: Have your beer lover sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager and UPS MyChoice. They can configure email and/or text notifications for when the beer is expected to arrive and either arrange for an adult to be home or redirect delivery to a nearby pick-up location (FedEx Office, Walgreens, UPS Store, etc.).