12 best beer and cider subscription boxes
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, most 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.
To help you along the way we’ve picked out our ten favourite beer subscription clubs along with a bonus brace of cidery options. So sign up, sit back and wait for those first boxes of precious booze to arrive on your doorstep.
1. Flavourly Craft Beer Club: 10 beers at £20 monthly, Flavourly
Flavourly’s new low prices makes it the best value craft beer club on the market. The quality of booze is excellent, with the box we tried including a unique collaboration with London Beer Lab. It also sends a free magazine and allows members to rate and review their selection to help customise future deliveries. Subscribers can edit their account to pause, cancel or change frequency.
2. BeerBods: 12 beers, every 12 weeks, for £36, BeerBods
Beer Bods’ legion of subscribers are encouraged to drink a specific bottle from their box each Thursday (tasting notes are emailed in advance) and share their drinking experience across social media for a mass live tasting. There are plenty of new brews to discover and members can cancel their subscription whenever they like. It’s social drinking for the internet generation.
3. Beer Merchants Club: 10 beers at £30 per month (rolling subscription) or £336 for a year subscription, Beer Merchants
One of the best and most established online beer retailers has joined the club scene with monthly deliveries of some of the world’s finest beers, including several not available online. Our themed box contained a superb selection of IPAs and they promise more seasonal selections throughout the year. Additionally, members receive discounts across the site and invitations to beery events.
4. Beer52 Craft Beer Discovery Club: 8 beers at £24 per month, Beer52
Beer52 has been the craft beer subscription standard-setter for several years, promising ‘exclusive small batch beers’, free snacks and an excellent magazine, ‘Ferment’, every month. They also get in on the brewing act, regularly collaborating with some of the world’s leading craft breweries for rare beer treats. Add two more beers for an extra fiver.
5. EeBria Brewery Club: 12 beers at £28 per month (£5.99 delivery), EeBria
Alongside mixed cases of beer (for an extra £4 per month) Eebria’s Brewery Club offers a more in-depth introduction to some of the best beer makers around. Each delivery showcases a different brewery’s range and comes with extensive tasting notes on each of the beers provided. It’s a meet-the-brewer experience in a box.
6. Beer Hawk: 8 beers at £27.50 or 12 at £37.50 or 15 at £45 per month, Beer Hawk
Now part of the huge AB InBev stable, Beer Hawk’s bumper boxes mix classic international beers with limited edition craft brews. You can pause or cancel your subscription whenever you wish and it guarantees no beer twice within a year. It also includes a tasting sheet allowing you to record your own notes on each beer.
7. 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 maximum volume of beer every month. The UK-only bottles include tasting notes, a free glass with your first box, and more traditional style beers than the other clubs, with our delivery being the most unique selection of all the boxes we received. Recipients can choose their delivery dates and are invited to provide feedback to help tailor future selections.
8. Ales by Mail: 6 beers at £17 (excluding postage), Ales by Mail
Ales by Mail’s ‘build your own’ club allows you to submit taste preferences (beer colour and strength) as well as the frequency of delivery and amount of beers in each case. Its global range of brewery suppliers reads like a who’s who of craft producers, ensuring top notch quality however you like your beer.
9. Honest Brew: 9 beers at £28 per month or 12 at £36 or £18 at £52, Honest Brew
For craft beer novices, the Honest Brew journey starts with six-beer taster box (£18). Use this to decide what you like most and plug in your tasting preferences online, allowing the team fill your subsequent boxes accordingly. It includes the option to skip, pause or even increase the frequency of deliveries for those eager for more beer.
10. Craft Metropolis: 12 beers at £34 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, the occasional free drinkers’ trinkets and offers newcomers a 50 per cent discount on their first box.
11. Crafty Nectar Craft Cider Discovery Club: £24.99 for 6 Bottles (500ml) or £38.99 for 12 Premium Bottles (500ml): 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 whilst supping. Pre-pay plans available at a discount.
12. Orchard Box: 8 bottles for £28.99 per month. Prepay plans also available at a discount
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 available at a discount.
The range of beers and ciders throughout our test boxes was exceptional so choosing which one to go with depends on individual criteria. For the serious beer buyer, Beer Merchants range and club benefits are hard to beat; Beer52s magazine and exclusive collaborations provide a good all round package; and Best of British Beer’s selection and service make it ideal for gifts. But for sheer value, while maintaining quality, Flavourly gets the overall nod.
Nick is one half of the Two Thirsty Gardeners, authors of the booze-making book ‘Brew it Yourself’