Beer of the Month Clubs Gaining Popularity in San Francisco

Photo © Brian Stechschulte

Remember when your uncle bought you that beer of the month club membership for Christmas a few years back? You eagerly waited for the first delivery and tore into the box when it arrived, only to find a bunch of random dusty bottles from unknown breweries. Beer of the month clubs don’t exactly have a stellar reputation. The selection can be boring and the cost of shipping is a hefty sum over several months. Four bottle shops in San Francisco offer an alternative to this mail order dice roll. Healthy Spirits and Plumpjack Wines have long established clubs, while Ales Unlimited and the Jug Shop just announced their club opportunities this month.

Each shop takes a slightly different approach and the cost can vary depending on the style and scarcity of the beer you want. None of them have membership fees and you can simply pick the beer up when it’s available. Of course the devil is in the details, which are outlined below for comparison.

Beer of the month clubs aren’t for everyone, but they can be useful for acquiring hard to find beer, convenience, and if you tend to get overwhelmed by unlimited choice or are new to craft beer, then this might be a good option for you. Before signing up for any club, visit the store, check out the selection and ask questions.

The club details below were culled from each store’s website and are subject to change without notice. Please visit them for more specifics and contact information.

If any readers have experience with the following clubs, please comment about your experience below.

Healthy Spirits

Neighborhood: Castro
2299 15th Street
(415) 255-0610
Website

  • 3 to 5 beers per month at a discount
  • In depth tasting notes
  • In store discount card
  • Special perks and access to limited releases
  • Cost of beer each month usually runs around $55

 

Plumpjack Wines

Neighborhood: Noe Valley
4011 24th Street
415-282-3841
Club details and prior selections

  • Approximately $25 per month
  • Two different selection of beers each month (number of bottles vary)
  • Detailed notes on brewery history, description of the brewing process for each beer, tasting notes, serving suggestions and food pairings
  • 10% discount on all non-allocated beers

 

Ales Unlimited

Neighborhood: Pacific Heights
2398 Webster
(415) 346-6849
Club details

  • Varying choices and price levels
  • Cost covers the actual beer prices
  • Month to month options and discounted upfront options available
  • Club members receive 10% discount on any beers and wines purchased in store that aren’t already discounted.

Level 1: Limited Releases and Exclusive Beers

10 memberships currently available due to limitation of the ales provided.
This membership provides access to the rarest and most exclusive ales we get each month. Barrel aged beers, limited production, and rare releases ales. You love rare? This is a must for you.

Members of this level will receive 2-3 12.7oz, 22oz and/or 25oz bottles.

$50 per month
$275 six (6) months
$525 twelve (12) months

Level 2: Sour Beer, Farmhouse, Saison and Wild Ales

This is the choice for lovers of funky and sour beers. This membership will contain at least one hard to find barrel aged sour beer and one brettanomyces based ale.

Members of this level will receive 2-3 12.7oz, 22oz and/or 25oz bottles.

$50 per month
$275 six (6) months
$525 twelve (12) months

Level 3: New Domestic Craft Beer releases

This level includes only ales from local microbrews and consists of 3-5 12oz, 22oz or 25oz bottles. We will only include craft beer from brewers located throughout the United States. This level will focus on new releases and seasonal offerings.

$30 per month
$175 six (6) months
$325 twelve (12) months

Level 4: New Import Craft Beers releases

This level is similar to level 3 however we only include ales from craft brewers outside the USA. Example countries would be Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

$45 per month
$250 six (6) months
$450 twelve (12) months

Level 5: Multi Mix Pack

We thought long and hard about this level. This level is for the adventurer in you. Can’t decide? Bored to always drink the same ales over and over. This is the level for you. You will receive between 6-10 ales during the month. We will mix from each level, as they are available. During your selected club length you will never receive an ale twice (unless you request it via e-mail and it is available e.g. limited releases)

$75 per month
$425 six (6) months

 

Jug Shop

Neighborhood: Russian Hill
1590 Pacific Avenue
(415) 885-2922
Club details

  • Varying choices and price levels
  • Offer shipping

Tier 1: Exclusive Beers

6 memberships initially available.
Provides access to the rarest and most exclusive beers each month. This is the program for fans of barrel-aged beers and those looking for the rarest of the rare. As the program grows and members are added, a choice between different sets will be made available.
Shipments will include 2-3 750ml bottles or 22oz bottles.

$40/Month
$220/6 Months
$440/12 Months

Tier 2: Sour Beer and Wild Ales

6 memberships initially available.
If you love funky and sour beer as much as we do, this is the beer of the month club for you. Each shipment will contain at least one hard to find barrel aged sour beer and one Brettanomyces spiked Saison or other wild ale.
As the program grows and members are added, a choice between different sets will be made available.
Shipments will include 2-3 750ml bottles or 22oz bottles.
$40/Month
$220/6 Months
$440/12 Month

Tier 3: New Domestic Craft Beers

Shipments will consist of 3-5 22oz bottles of craft beer from brewers located throughout the United States. This tier will focus on new releases and seasonal offerings.

$25/Month
$140/6 Months
$275/12 Months

Tier 4: New Import Craft Beers

Shipments will consist of 2-4 bottles of beer from craft brewers from around the world. This tier will focus on the amazing brewers of Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, France, Italy, Japan, The Czech Republic and England.

$25/Month
$140/6 Months
$275/12 Months

Tier 5: American Craft Beer Case a Month

Shipments will consist of one 24 bottle mix case of American craft beer with at least 4 different selections and no repeats in the course of one year. This is a great option for people who would like to explore the world of craft beer and keep their beer fridge stocked at the same time.

$36/Month
$200/6 Months
$396/12 Months

 

Freaks, Monsters & Sour Beer this Halloween Weekend

Have you spent months creating a costume, but still need a place to go this Halloween weekend? Here’s a selection of parties at Bay Area breweries and bars that include freaks, costume contests and most importantly, craft beer.

Friday, October 28

MONSTERS OF ROCK Halloween Festival
4:00pm – 9:00pm, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers,1195 Evans, San Francisco. (map)

Costume contest, food from the Fogcutter food truck, $3 beers and live music from Midnight Chaser, Hell Ship and Fear the Fiasco. Free entry.

Beer Friday Costume Contest & Kid’s Parade
6pm, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company,111 Industrial Road #7, Belmont. (map)

Beer Friday is a Devil’s Canyon monthly event, but for Halloween they turn it up a notch. The Kid’s Parade starts at 7:15pm and includes candy stations. Costume judging for adults begins at 9:15pm. $10 entry includes a souvenir pint glass and one beer. Additional drinks are $6. Expect live music and they’re serving up the last bit of Weizenbock.

Sour Beer Tasting
6:30pm – 8:30pm, Jug Shop Wine & Spirits, 1590 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco. (map)

They may not be scary creepy crawlers, but brettanomyces yeast will be on full display at the Jug Shop. $35 gets you 20 different samples of  beer from Jolly Pumpkin, Hanssen, Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes, Russian River, Panil, Ommegang, Birra del Borgo, Strubbe and Cantillon just to name a few. This event is limited to 40 people so act fast.

Movie Night: The Shining
9:00pm, Park Chalet, 1000 Great Hwy. San Francisco. (map)

No cover, late night happy hour prices and free popcorn.

Saturday, October 29

Iron Springs 7th Anniversary Party & Halloween Costume Contest
12:00pm – 11:00pm, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, 765 Center Blvd, Fairfax. (map)

Help Iron Springs celebrate all day with prize giveaways, free raffles and costume contest prizes. Music all day and night, which includes a rare Moonalice acoustic performance.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Halloween Party
7:00pm – 10:00pm, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay. (map)

The 11th annual Halloween Party with rock music from the Megatones. All ages are welcome to enter the costume contest. Prizes will be awarded by the following categories: Most Scary, Most Original and Best Group Costume. Free Entry.

Sunday, October 30

2nd Annual Freaktoberfest Boutique Beer & Music Festival
12:00pm – 5:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

60 beers from 25 different breweries will accompany live music from Sex with No Hands, Pit Bull Rodeo, Deep Cover and burlesque acts. Street food will be served up by Guerilla Grub and beer will be poured using a ticketing system. No entry fee.

Monday, October 31 (Halloween)

17th Annual Halloween Costume Contest
8:00pm, Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant , 15 Rowland Way, Novato. (map)