Good beer is everywhere. Supermarkets have upped their game and now have vast sections dedicated to local and international beers; specialist bottles shops are opening up in towns and cities across the land; cafés and restaurants are beginning to realise the importance of offering decent beer with their food; and pubs, joined on the high street by newer craft bars, have started to lengthen the list of ales available from behind the bar. And it’s not just malt and hops that are flavouring this new booze passion: cider is also getting in on the act.
This boom in beer and cider means there are now more discerning drinkers who are eager to seek out the latest brews and start assembling shelves of their own favourite styles at home; and, for an increasing number, the best way to do this is through a subscription club.
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 suppliers with limited UK distribution.
Each one of these clubs provides slight variations on the basic model. This may be in the type of booze on offer, how much you can tailor your selection, the frequency of delivery or the inclusion of a few extra goodies, so it’s worth spending a little time to check the options before settling on the club 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 paused or 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 nectar to arrive on your doorstep.
Honest Brew honesty box subscription: 12 beers for £36.90 per month
Honest Brew’s six, nine or 12-beer-box deliveries are a great way to explore the latest craft ales. It’s a rapidly growing company that’s building great relationships with a large 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. 8-Wired, Boundary and Burning Sky are some of the star names you might encounter in your next box and, besides a regular subscription, you can also sign up to the Honest Brew Bank which rewards members with exclusive offers and discounts.
Beer Merchants Club Box: 10 beers for £28 per month on a yearly contract or £30 per month on a rolling contract
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 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: 8 beers for £19.90 per month
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 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.
Best of British Beer for a Year: 12 beers, 4 times a year, £155
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 £49.95 for 12 beers per month
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, Verdant and Cloudwater, 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.
Craft Metropolis: 12 beers for £34.50 per month
With London breweries multiplying at an electrifying rate, it’s no surprise there’s a box scheme dedicated to the city’s beery output. Craft Metropolis showers its monthly subscribers with exceptional beer from the capital supplemented by a few choice cans and bottles from further afield. 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, Five Points and Gipsy Hill, but if you’re determined to choose your own goods then an extra £1.50 will afford you this option.
Beer52 craft beer discovery club: 8 beers for £24 per month
Beer52 sources some of the most exciting new beers from around the world for its popular subscription boxes (the bottles in a recent delivery all came from Korea) 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 £27.99 per month
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.
Crafty Nectar craft cider discovery club: £28.50 for 6 ciders per month, or £47 for 12 premium ciders per month
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.
Eebria cider discovery club: £32 for 12 ciders per month (first box £22)
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.
Beer Me Now: 8 beers per month for £25
Beer Me Now is one of the newest subscription services on the market and the Essex business has hit the ground running with some superb selections. You’ll find familiar, contemporary brewing aces in each box (the likes of Cloudwater and Pressure Drop are on board) but we’re particularly impressed by their ability to seek out excellent new beers from breweries we’ve not heard of before – Lost Pier, Claverley’s and Ampersand being examples from the most recent delivery. It’s a selection that should appeal to traditionalists and craft connoisseurs alike, with a snack or two thrown in for good measure.
Belgian Beer and Food beerseeker subscription: €120 (£104) for 3 boxes of 6 beers per year plus delivery
These three-per-year boxes contain some of the most eagerly sought-after Belgian beers and, with a high proportion of them being limited editions shipped straight from Belgium, you’ll struggle to get better booze unless you emigrate to Brussels. There’s a hefty price to pay for this luxury (and you also need to factor in overseas delivery) but you’ll find a few 75cl bottles among them that would cost a small fortune on their own. Recent deliveries have included special beers from De Cam, Struise, Alvinne and L’Ermitage, plus you’ll also receive three copies per year of the informative Belgian Beer and Food magazine.
Ghost Whale Crowler Club: £30 per month for 6 x 500ml cans
Ghost Whale runs a beer delivery club along similar lines to others in this list (£47.99 for 8 to 10 beers) but its unique offering is the Crowler Club which provides fresh beer straight from keg to can and delivered to your door. Ghost Whale’s Brixton tap room serves its customers some of the rarest (and most expensive) beers you can find, and they generously share these brews with their subscribers, allowing them to create their own tap-room experience at home. Recent breweries have included Chorlton, Cascade, DEYA and Moscow’s Zagovor, each responsible for some of the most outstanding (and experimental) modern creations you’re likely to encounter, which can now be enjoyed in the comforts of your own home.
Craved craft beer and jerky club: £34 per month for 6 beers and 2 bags of jerky
Bags of snacks feature in a few of the deliveries we’ve mentioned but none can match the quality of grazing presented in the boxes from Craved. With two bags of hand made British jerky each month your teeth will get a good workout, making you feel like you’ve really earned those beers. And with some of London’s finest breweries including Kew, Partizan and Five Points providing the liquid refreshment you can be sure the drinking quality is a perfect match for the snacking.
Bristol Cider Shop cider club: 6 bottles per month £28
Bristol is arguably the UK’s most cider-friendly city and, in the Bristol Cider Shop, it has one of the best specialist retailers in the land, chock full of excellent ciders that attract customers from far and wide. For those people unable to make it over to Bristol on a regular basis the shop has recently launched a subscription club, sending out six or 12 bottle deliveries containing shop favourites, new releases and small batch ciders. And if you are within apple-throwing distance of Bristol you can save a tenner on delivery by collecting the box in person.
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.