Beer52 is a monthly beer subscription service that specialises in modern-style UK and world beers. Read on to find out what I thought of the service and get a voucher code for £12 off your first order.
As well as the US, where the number of breweries has doubled in the last five years, many other countries are enjoying a boom in new craft beer breweries. For instance, more than 900 new breweries popped up in the EU between 2013 and 2015.
So how can you get to taste the best foreign craft beers in good old blighty?
I decided to give it a go. Here’s how I got on.
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It’s easy to sign up on the website. Just select your plan and add a few details including your address and credit card details.
If you’re using a voucher code, check that you’ve entered it before you sign up. Because I signed up on the go on my smartphone, the code had disappeared when it came to confirming my order up so I didn’t get the discount. That said, Beer52 refunded the difference after I emailed them.
What you get and cost
When you sign up, you pay a monthly subscription and get 8 or 10 beers (depending on the plan you choose) delivered every four weeks.
Like most beer subscription services, Beer52 chooses what beers you get so you can discover new breweries and varieties.
It costs from £21 a month, but you have to sign up to a 12-month subscription to get the best price.
The monthly cost for the eight-beer package is £24 if you don’t want to commit to more than a month at a time. You then get billed every 28 days.
Delivery is included in the price.
Light or dark?
By default, you sign up for the service’s “mixed box”, which includes light and dark beers. But you can opt for a “light box” once you’ve signed up if you prefer light beers like IPAs and pale ales. There’s currently no dark beers-only option.
Despite often gravitating to lighter beers, I stuck with the mixed box as I’m keen to try more porters and stouts.
Upgrading and cancelling
It’s easy to upgrade to 10 beers a month, order another box or pause your subscription by logging into your account.
However, cancelling is more difficult as you have to phone up, which seems odd for an online service.
That said, I wasn’t on hold long when I called to cancel my subscription.
And while it’s possibly psychologically more difficult to cancel when you’re speaking to someone rather than pressing a button on a website, I didn’t get “the hard sell” and the person I spoke with sorted out everything quickly.
I would have preferred not to have to call up though!
My beers arrived just two days after I signed up.
New members get Beer52’s “welcome box”. This includes Beer52’s most popular beers so may not be a true representation of a typical Beer52 package.
My box also included a packet of Soffle’s Chilli and Garlic pitta chips and “Ferment”, which is Beer52’s exclusive craft beer magazine. Despite my box arriving in November, the magazine was the summer edition, which made it feel out of date.
Longer-term members get even more goodies as a reward for their loyalty, with a special gift on their 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th boxes. For example, you get two free beers on your sixth case and a free glass with your ninth.
About the beers
The box included three cans and five bottles, all around the 330ml mark.
The UK beers were:
- Mochachocolata Ya Ya! (5.1% milk stout) – Electric Bear Brewing Co
- Session IPA (3.6% session IPA) – Two Tribes brewery (in collaboration with Island Records)
- Gamma Ray (5.4% American pale ale) – Beavertown brewery
- Neck Oil (4.3% session IPA) – Beavertown brewery
- Pandadora (6.3% Belgian stout) – Mordue
The foreign beers were:
- Must Kuld (7.8% porter) – Pohjala brewery (Estonia)
- Uus Maailm (4.7% session IPA) – Pohjala brewery (Estonia)
- Dead Guy Ale malbock (6.5%) – Rogue brewery (USA)
As usual, I plucked for the paler ales first including the two Beavertown cans, which although I recognised the branding, I don’t recall trying before.
The design on the Two Tribes Session IPA was also recognisable, due to it being a collaboration with the legendary Island Records music label.
On the subject of label design, the picture on the bottle of the Must Kuld stout was questionable to say the least – or maybe it’s just me?
Anyway, all these beers were lovely.
However, it was the Dead Guy Ale that stole the show for me. Made with the Rogue brewery’s own yeast, the taste was unlike anything I’ve tasted before, possibly due to it being a rarer malbock-style beer.
It’s one of those rare beers I’d seek out again. And as someone who prefers draught ale to bottled, I can imagine it’s even better straight from the tap. It’s a pity then that it’s from a US-based brewery.
Over the next few weeks I also sampled the rest of the darker beers. I’d flirted briefly with stouts and porters before, but I’m getting a real taste for them now.
I really impressed by the Electric Bear Mochachocolata Ya Ya!, a beer I could have probably tried on cask on my recent visit to the Bath Winter Beer Festival if I’d known about it (Electric Bear sponsored the event).
It featured a smooth yet bitter taste of caramel that reminded me of those creme caramel yoghurt desserts you only pick up from the supermarket when you want a mouthful of nostalgia.
That said, one bottle was enough for me – I don’t think I could have drunk much more of this rich milk stout in one session. But, like the Dead Guy Ale, I’ll be looking for this one again.
While the beers tasted good, one element of the Beer52 service that left a bad taste was its aggressive SMS marketing.
I understand that companies want to sell as much as possible. But a flurry of text messages promoting extra boxes of beer and upgrades didn’t sit well with me, especially since they were timed to arrive when I was most likely to be drinking alcohol (such as Friday and Saturday nights).
This was made worse by the fact that all it took to order was to reply “yes” to the text – unlike similar messages you get from takeaway firms at weekends where you’d have to call or visit to place an order.
I guess I must have signed up to these messages when I accepted Beer52’s terms and conditions. But I was expecting it to use my mobile number to contact me about deliveries and the like, rather than to market to me.
My view on Beer52
I liked Beer52’s beer subscription service. You can’t argue too much with beers coming in at around £3 a bottle or can, especially when you factor in delivery and import costs.
And while I have an affinity with drinking local beer and supporting local breweries, I really liked how my Beer52 box encouraged me to try modern-style beers from around the world.
The downside for me was the intrusive SMS marketing. However, this wasn’t the reason I cancelled (I decided to try some similar services instead).
It’s probably also worth adding that this service probably isn’t for you if you prefer traditional UK bitters.
Have you tried Beer52’s beer subscription service? How did you get on?
Get 8 beers for £12 with this code
If you want to give Beer52 a go, you can pay just £12 for a box of eight beers when you sign up with this link.
That’s just £1.50 a beer. And you can cancel at any time.
*Disclaimer: I’ll get a free box of beer if you sign up. But don’t let that put you off!