We’re living in a golden age of beer, with more choice than ever before from a constantly expanding global collection of breweries. With most of these operating at small, craft brewing scales, the only struggle for beer guzzlers is trying to get hold of as much of it as possible. And with craft cider gaining in popularity, fans of fermented apple juice are beginning to encounter similar yearnings for hard-to-find booze.
To help fuel Britain’s thirst for beer and cider, the number of subscription clubs is rapidly increasing. Operating along similar lines to their wine club cousins, these services provide regular deliveries of top notch beer and cider, much of which is sourced from breweries with limited UK distribution.
Each one of these clubs provides slight variations in the type of booze on offer, how much you can tailor your selection, frequency of delivery and the inclusion of a few extra goodies, so it’s worth exploring them all to find the approach that suits you best. And don’t forget to check the small print for cancellation considerations – in the majority of cases, monthly subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.
Some breweries, such as BrewDog, have even started running their own clubs, delivering regular supplies of their latest brews. But for this selection we’ve picked out our favourite multi-brewery beer subscription clubs, along with a few cidery options. So sign up, sit back and wait for those first boxes of precious booze to arrive on your doorstep.
Honest Brew Honesty Box Subscription: 12 beers for £35.90 per month, Honest Brew
For those new to craft beer, start your Honest Brew journey with a six-beer taster box (£20.90) and use it to decide what styles you like most. Then, plug in your tasting preferences online and the team will fill your subsequent boxes accordingly (or opt for a better-value, pre-selected 12-pack of six different beers at £29.90 per month). Honest Brew is a rapidly growing company that’s building great relationships with a number of the most exciting breweries around the world, so when you’re up and running with your subscription you’ll be treated to regular supplies that’ll be the envy of your beer-drinking mates.
Beer Merchants Club Box: 10 beers for £28 per month on a yearly contract or £30 per month on a rolling contract, Beer Merchants
Beer Merchants is one of the UK’s leading online beer retailers and the subscription service has a more global offering than most of its competitors, with some classic ales nestling alongside modern beers. Each box is themed, from country-specific selections to choices based on style, with our most recent delivery containing booze from small new breweries with bright futures, including Elusive, Left Handed Giant and Belgium’s Verzet. Additionally, members receive discounts across the site and invitations to beery events.
BeerBods: 12 beers every 3 months for £36, BeerBods
BeerBods claims to be the UK’s first beer subscription club and its offering is still unique, providing a level of online social drinking unmatched by any other business. Subscribers are encouraged to drink a specific bottle from their box each Thursday and share their drinking experience across social media for a mass live-tasting – tasting notes are emailed in advance and the story behind each beer is published on the website. The beers are mostly British and of an excellent quality, with a new gems regularly cropping up to spark excited online debate.
Flavourly Craft Beer Club: 10 beers for £25 per month, Flavourly
Subscribers to Flavourly’s bargain boxes can choose from a selection of dark beers, light beers, or a mix of both. The quality of booze is excellent, with a mostly modern British offering complemented by a few international choices, some snacks and a free magazine (with beer and gin features to double up with Flavourly’s gin club). Our latest box was mostly assembled from Scottish breweries and included excellent beers from Tempest and newcomers Merchant City, along with three bags of crisps. Subscribers can rate the beers to receive more of what they like.
EeBria Brewery Club: 12 beers for £28 per month (first box £18), EeBria
EeBria acts as an online shop for a rapidly growing number of British breweries and cider makers. Its Discovery Club (£32 per month, with the first box costing £22) features a selection of beers from its partners (our box included fine efforts by Black Flag, Crafty Devil and Forest Road) while the Brewery Club offers a more in-depth introduction to its breweries, with each delivery showcasing beers from a single provider. This approach guarantees a range of styles, with limited editions alongside core products, and comes with extensive tasting notes on each of the beers provided. Money-saving options are available by paying for more boxes up front.
Beer Hawk: 9 beers from £24 per month or 15 beers from £38 per month, Beer Hawk
Beer Hawk provides various subscription sizes and commitment options, with the most bargainous delivering 15 beers at £38 for a 12-month plan (this jumps to £45 with a monthly plan). These bumper boxes mix classic international beers with limited-edition craft brews, packaged with its own magazine, Hoptical. The latest selection has been curated by Fourpure head brewer John Driebergen, and includes the ever-popular Saison Dupont and Schneider Aventinus Tap 6 along with five Fourpure creations and a few other gluggable treats.
Best of British Beer for a Year: 12 beers, 4 times a year, £155, Best of British Beer
Only 500ml bottles make it into these cases, guaranteeing an excellent volume of beer every month. The UK-only bottles include tasting notes, a free glass with your first box, and more traditionally styled beers than the other clubs – our most recently delivery featured ales from Windsor and Eton, Oakham and Allendale. Recipients can choose their delivery dates and are invited to provide feedback to help tailor future selections. Best of British also offers other beer club options, along with a decent Craft Cider Club (6 x 500ml bottles at £27 per month), but for the committed real ale drinker, the Beer for a Year choice is hard to beat.
Hop Burns & Black Sub Club: from £48 for 10-12 beers per month, Hop Burns & Black
Hop Burns & Black’s subs boxes aren’t cheap, but if you’re a beer nerd keen on tasting the most eagerly sought-out beers on the planet then you’ll find it well worth the dosh. You’ll discover some beery delights from breweries such as 3 Fonteinen, Anspach & Hobday and Marble, and the combined price will save you money on buying them individually. Some of these beers are so hard to come by that subs box numbers are limited, so get on board while you can. There are monthly, three-, six- and 12-monthly subscriptions available, and if you sign up to the latter, you can cancel your plan whenever and get a refund for the remainder.
Craft Metropolis: 12 beers for £34.50 per month, Craft Metropolis
With London breweries multiplying at an electrifying rate, it’s no surprise there’s a box scheme dedicated exclusively to the city’s beery output. Craft Metropolis showers its monthly subscribers with exceptional beer and, occasionally, free drinkers’ trinkets and discounts. We suggest you let the team pick your box for you each month and you’ll be guzzling booze from brewing stars such as Brockley Brewery, Five Points and Gipsy Hill, but if you’re determined to choose your own goods then an extra £1.50 will give you this option.
Beer52 Craft Beer Discovery Club: 8 beers for £24 per month, Beer52
Beer52 sources some of the most exciting new beers from around the world for its popular subscription boxes (the bottles in the most recent delivery all come from Amsterdam) and serves them up with a snack and copy of Ferment magazine, one of the better beer publications around. Subscribers are encouraged to rate and review the booze to earn “taster points” and be rewarded with gifts and discounts. Add two more beers to your monthly supply for an extra fiver.
BelgiBeer: 8 beers for £24.90 per month, BelgiBeer
Like Belgian beer? Of course you do. So check out this special subs service: a regular supply of top-quality booze from a different brewery every month. Not only will subscribers be slurping some of the world’s best beer, they’ll also be rewarded with a brewery glass, Golden Hops magazine, discounts and a surprise gift. The most recent brewery to discover was De Ranke, one of our all-time favourites, and there’s more information about its beers and brewing on the BelgiBeer website. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in booze from the best brewing nation in the world. Delivery is £4.90 extra, or you can opt to pick your case up from designated collection points for £2.
Ales by Mail Imperial Beer Club: 6 beers at £29, Ales by Mail
Ales by Mail’s Imperial Beer Club specialises in strong beers, with a choice between “rich and complex” brews or “fresh, fruity and hoppy” beers in the six-per-box option (10- and 12-beer mixed boxes are also available). These beers have high price tags if bought individually so, although it’s one of the more expensive options out there, the savings are quite impressive for fans of high-ABV beers. Among the potent treats we’ve spied are offerings from Brew By Numbers, Siren and Mad Hatter.
Crafty Nectar Craft Cider Discovery Club: £28.50 for 6 beers per month, or £47 for 12 premium beers per month, Crafty Nectar
No beer here – this box is strictly for cider heads. Crafty Nectar offers up hassle-free deliveries of cider and perry from the UK’s finest cidermakers. Only full juice, no-concentrate ciders are allowed in the box, and tasting notes for each cider are available on the website for you to scrutinise while supping. All boxes are gluten-free and suitable for vegans. Pre-pay plans are available at a discount, and you need to factor in a £7.99 delivery charge.
Orchard Box: 8 bottles for £28.99 per month, Orchard Box
Here’s another hop-free box of delights. Bristol-based Orchard Box provides an eclectic collection of apple-y booze, sourced from lesser known and upcoming producers from the UK and beyond. There’s a choice of regular or gluten-free/vegan cider boxes, and each delivery comes with a selection of tasty snacks to help stave off the cider munchies. Pre-pay plans are available at a discount.
Eebria Cider Discovery Club: £32 for 12 ciders per month, Eebria
Eebria has pulled off a smart trick by partnering with cider producers as well as breweries, and its Cider Discovery Club is an excellent way to get a constant supply of some amazing booze. Start off with a six-bottle taster box for £10 before progressing to the 12-a-month deliveries and you’ll quickly appreciate the increasingly large range of ciders currently available. Our latest box featured ciders from six breweries, including Kentish Pip, Yarde and some delicious Italian Angioletti sparkling ciders. Longer subscription plans are available if you so please, and delivery is £5.99.
The Verdict: Beer and cider subscriptions
There’s something in this list for all beer and cider fans, with each club offering its own USP. Over the past year we’ve become increasingly impressed with Honest Brew’s expanding range of beers and for that reason we’re awarding it our Best Buy accolade.
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