The Beer Isle is a craft beer subscription club. Find out what I thought of it and see what makes it different from other beer and ale clubs.
One of the things I love about living in Hampshire is easy access to so many great local beers.
And, with 204 new breweries opening across the UK in 2015 and almost 1,500 in total across the country, it’s easy to sample local beers wherever you are.
Fine if you travel around a lot. Not so great if, like me, you don’t get out and about that much.
Introducing The Beer Isle
This is where The Beer Isle can help. When you subscribe to this craft beer club you get 12 beers delivered to your home every month.
And here’s the interesting bit – each delivery consists of 12 bottled beers and ales sourced from a different region of the UK. So you could be sampling saison and stout from Swansea one month and pale ale and pilsener from Pudsey the next.
These aren’t the types of craft beer you’ll find in the supermarket aisles either. The Beer Isle promises small-batch beers from breweries that don’t typically distribute outside their local areas.
The Beer Isle offers three subscription packages. All offer the same beers as the others. The only difference is how much you pay upfront.
Essentially, the more you pay at the outset, the more you save on each delivery.
The options are:
- Six months – £198 (£2.75 a bottle)
- Three months – £99 (£2.75 a bottle)
- One month – £36 (£3 a bottle)
All options include delivery. Bottles come in both 330ml and 500ml sizes.
You can stop the subscription at any time. You can also pause it if you find that you’re stockpiling beers because you can’t get through them quickly enough.
You can’t choose which beers you get each month. But that’s part of the fun. Otherwise, you’ll just end up trying the same beers again and again. And let’s face it – you can do that by letting the buyers at your local supermarket choose your beers for you.
Unlike similar services like that provided by Flavourly, you also can’t choose whether the majority of your delivery is made up of light or dark beers. Again though, the whole point of this service is to sample beers you wouldn’t normally go for.
West Midlands beers
This was certainly the case with my first Beer Isle package, which showcased beers from the West Midlands region. As well as several pale ales (my favourite type), it also included a black beer and a saison – two types I’d probably avoid if I was choosing them myself.
There were four 500ml bottles and eight 330ml bottles. There weren’t any cans in my delivery.
The box also included a handy branded bottle opener and a nicely designed “menu”, which included information about the beers and breweries featured. Plus, some tasting notes.
The beers were from the following breweries:
- Two Towers – a six-year-old brewery based in Birmingham run by two friends.
- Twisted Barrel Ale – a brewery in Coventry, which also has a thriving tap house.
- Byatt’s – another Coventry-based brewery, specialising in bottled and cask ales with simple ingredients.
- Fixed Wheel – a Blackheath brewery run by people who love bikes almost as much as they love beer.
- Church Farm – like Upham Brewery in Hampshire, this brewery uses water from its own well.
- Lymestone – a brewery from the town of Stone in Staffordshire.
- Sacre Brew – this Wolverhampton brewery specialises in American, German and Belgian beer styles.
- Sadlers Ales – a Stourbridge brewery, which has a venue in Southampton – Sadler’s Brewhouse and Barbecue
- Salopian – formerly based in a north Wales pub, this brewery relocated to Shrewsbury in 1995.
What were the beers like?
The first beer I cracked open was Twisted Barrel Ale’s “Beast of Midlands Mild” (3.8%).
This certainly lived up to its beastly name – for me anyway. It’s a thick, almost black ale with a creamy finish and smell thanks to the addition of vanilla pods. As a fan of lighter beers, it was enjoyable to sample but not one I’d return to.
Next, I poured Church Farm’s “IPA” (5%). It wasn’t as hoppy as I expected it would be. But it was enjoyable with some cool, simple labelling on the bottle.
Later I made my way through the rest of my package including a Fixed Wheel “Spartacus” Belgian IPA (6.5%) which oddly wasn’t included in my beer menu.
There were some fine beers in this package. But my favourite of the lot was Salopian’s “Automation” (7%) – a refreshing IPA bursting with pine, lime and citrus flavours.
It was also interesting to try the Fixed Wheel “Pope of Dope” saison (4.7%). Again, I’m not sure it’s one I’d seek out later but it was interesting to give it a try. And who knows? Maybe I’ll develop a taste for saison?
The other beers included were:
- “Vertigo” (7.2%) – Salopian
- “Hop Bomb” (5%) – Sadlers Ales
- “Leopard” (6.8%) – Sacre Brew
- “Abdominal Stoneman” (7%) – Lymestone
- “Phoenix Gold” (4.3%) – Byatt’s
- “Sine Qua Non” (4.5%) – Twisted Barrel Ale
- “Electric Ale” (4.1%) – Two Towers
If you like the idea of touring the UK’s best small breweries from the comfort of your sofa or garden deckchair, you’ll love The Beer Isle.
I especially liked how each package contains a mixture of beer styles. That said, this service might not be for you if you like to stick to one particular style of beer.
Price wise, The Beer Isle is clearly more expensive than buying beers from the supermarket, where you can’t be as adventurous. The price per bottle is comparable with other beer subscription services such as Beer Hawk and Beer 52 and with specialist off-licences.
In fact, out of all the well-known craft beer and ale subscription services, only Flavourly offers a considerably cheaper service with each bottle costing £2 on average. However, all its beers in my experience come in 330ml size. Meanwhile The Beer Isle include a few larger 500ml bottles. Something to consider when weighing up your options.
Info: The Beer Isle is currently offering £5 off your first order. You can sign up for the code on the website.
Disclaimer: The Beer Isle didn’t charge me for this box of beer.