Have you ever wanted to ship beer to someone in the mail? You might be surprised how common beer trading and beer shipping really is. To make sure your package arrives at its destination in one piece, however, you need to make sure you properly pack your beer to ship. Use this method and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Disclaimer: You ship beer at your own risk.
Quick Tips on How to Ship Beer in the Mail
- Use a sturdy double-walled box, or put one box inside another.
- Use plenty of filler material. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap work best.
- Make sure no glass is touching.
- Make sure nothing moves when you shake the box.
- Use these styrofoam wine shippers or these Bottle Trays from CraftyShipping for the easiest way to pack and ship.
- Tape, tape, tape!
- Write fragile on the box (though I’m not convinced this makes any difference whatsoever)
- Write “liquid yeast samples” on the box (sort of true).
- Try to package the beer so that the recipient can reuse the packing materials.
- Line the box with bubble wrap or foam.
- Ship beer via UPS or FedEx using an online account and print your shipping label at home. Don’t use USPS.
- Avoid shipping beer during extremely hot weather.
The Full Guide on Shipping Beer
Update: If you’re wondering about beer trades, shipping homebrew, or just how to mail beer to your friends and family – I do both frequently.
While many homebrewers like to make beer for themselves, but many like to share their products with friends and family in other countries. Some may want to expand their business, exporting their products and getting recognition. There are also beer competitions around the world that would get participants from very distant places, even from other continents.
There may be a plethora of diverse reasons over which you may want to send beer outside your country. When you take the time to learn how to brew your own beer at home that tastses better than you thought it would, who wouldn’t want to share it with friends and family?
In this article, you will receive a few useful rules and tips you must know before starting your next step on your homebrewing endeavor.
Is it legal to ship beer in the US?
The short and direct answer would be “No” unless you have the proper license and paperwork to do it. Shipping any alcoholic beverage is against the policies of most shipping companies—all kind of liquid products on glass bottles; it is considered dangerous for shipping.
If you decide to start shipping beer anyway, you must remember you are doing it under your own risk. By doing so, procure to secure your package as much as you can, so it can reach safely to its destination.
That been said, depending on the country you live in, you may find some options on how to ship beer to other countries. Look for what laws and restrictions the shipping company may have related to shipping alcohol.
First, as a strong recommendation, do not use USPS to send beer. They have a strict policy on that matter, so it is better not to try to break it. Although some may prefer to use them when shipping internationally, the risks are too high if they discover what you are sending.
FedEx and UPS also have restrictions about mailing beer and other kinds of alcohol. But it is not impossible to do it with them. It is an excellent and recommended idea to have everything correctly packed before taking it to the shipping company. That way, you can avoid some of the annoying questions from the clerk.
A good option is to open an account with the shipping company of your choice. This is especially recommended if you are going to be sending beer frequently. That way, you can automate your payments and save time having already shipping labels for your package.
There may be other local shipping companies with less strict policies in your location, so make sure to investigate before deciding which one to use.
Details of Packing Beer
You have made your mind and decided to try shipping your beer anyway. Now it’s time to look at how to make your package safe for travel all the way. You must be especially careful with the packing part because, again, you are doing it without a license. In case of an accident, you may lose all your products, even if only one bottle is broken.
Depending on the shipping company you are using, your package may be thrown away if they find out is beer or alcohol, and you may get a notification from them. Or, in the case of USPS, you will get the visit of a government agent for breaking the law.
Labelling your package as fragile won’t guarantee that it will go all the way safely, but it helps. It is even harder to secure the box when you ship it to other countries. Selecting FedEx and UPS as your shipping companies can give you more security than trying a less-known one.
Before you go through which materials are the best for your package, choose if you are sending your beer in glass bottles, plastic bottles, or cans. You must be especially careful with glass, as it is easier to break. On the other hand, glass bottles preserve the beer much better than plastic bottles, and they are less expensive than cans.
You can find wine shipping kits and shipping boxes on Amazon and other big retailer stores. You could also talk with a local wine merchant and buy shipping materials from him. It is better than buying the shipping materials from the shipping companies because they sell it at a higher cost.
If you don’t want to spend money on kits, make sure that the materials you are using have the following characteristics:
- The cardboard boxes must be sturdy, and you have to make sure that they are in the best conditions.
- They must not have holes or gasps; they could rip and reveal the content of the box, and you would get in trouble.
- Use at least three cardboard boxes for each package.
Wrap your bottles with bubble wrap, and if you want extra safety for each bottle, put the wrapped bottles inside small Ziploc bags. If you don’t have bubble wrap, you can use other filling materials like old newspapers or pieces of clothing.
Rubber bands are also a useful choice for securing the wrapping around the beer bottles. That way, it will be easier to unwrap once the package reaches its destination. Be sure that the rubber bands are in excellent condition, too. Cheap rubber bands can break if you push their elasticity too much.
You can then put your cardboard box inside a plastic garbage bag, o a gallon size Ziploc bag. You will avoid or minimize any leak. Remember that shipping companies will discard any package that is leaking.
As an option, you can use electrical tape around the cap of the bottles to prevent them from popping for the sudden movement during shipping. Some home brewing equipment already comes with a wax seal for your bottles, which is even better.
Also invest in a big roll of shipping tape to make sure everything is tapped correctly. You will need it to secure all the sides of the boxes and patch possible weak points you may find.
As a small note: if your product is on a can or a plastic bottle, try to avoid bubble wrap or too much wrapping. You should also instruct the person receiving the package to be careful when opening it. Some people may not be patient enough to unwrap each bottle. If they use a sharp instrument to cut through the wrap, they could puncture the plastic bottle or can and spill the beer.
It may look like a lot of material for only a few bottles, but you will find that it can be essential for having successful shipping. If the package leaks, it can damage other packages, so the companies will throw it out. It is better to have only one broken bottle in a very tightly wrapped box than losing the whole thing.
Tips and Helpful Hints
Here you can find a few tips and recommendations when shipping beer and other alcoholic beverages. These tips are also useful if you are travelling with these kinds of bottles from one state or country to another. Follow them to reduce accidents through the shipping process, and reduce the risks you are taking for shipping without a license.
– Fragile Content.
Make sure to label as “fragile” every side of the package. You can use a marker or buy stickers to place them all over it. It won’t guarantee that your package will arrive safe, but it makes a big difference.
Put your box inside of a slightly bigger box. Then put that box inside a third box. That way, you can triple the strength of the package. Be sure that there are no spaces in-between the boxes, and it must fit as tight as possible. You can fill small spaces with more padding.
– Prevent Leaking.
The best way to pack your beer, especially if it is in glass bottles, is to wrap it up with bubble wrap or other padding materials. But it may not be enough to prevent an accident. Put each bottle inside an individual Ziploc bag. Also, you can cover the inside of the box with a garbage bag. Make sure it doesn’t have air pockets between the bag and the cardboard.
–Be green, reuse.
If you have unused cardboard boxes in your house, you can try to use those instead of buying shipping materials. Reuse the boxes you receive as much as you can, as long as they are in the right conditions. Try to avoid using too much tape, especially with the bubble wrap. That way, you may reuse the bubble wrap for future shipping.
– Don’t say it is beer.
If asked what you are shipping, avoid mentioning alcohol. Identify them as oil bottles, collective glassware, and such. Some identify them as yeast samples, which is not entirely untrue. The chances are that you won’t get too much questioning, so don’t act suspiciously as if you were doing something wrong.
– Mail your package through ground transport.
If possible, try to make “ground” shipping. This mean, don’t fly your package. Sudden changes in pressure and temperatures are not suitable for carbonated bottles, and they may not arrive at their destination. If your product has to go overseas, try to do it by boat instead of a plane.
– Early Shipper.
Try to ship your products at the beginning of the week. That way helps you reduce the time that the package may stay on a warehouse. Some companies do not deliver on weekends. When shipping beer, it should arrive soon to the person that is receiving it so that it can be stored in optimal conditions.
– Less space is better.
When placing the bottles inside the box, make sure that there is not enough room for movement between them. If the bottles can’t move around, there will be fewer possibilities for them to shake and break. Separate each bottle from the other with more cardboard pieces and as much padding as you can.
– Make it harder to crush.
Remember to put more padding materials on every side of the box. You can’t be sure if your package will be on the top of the others, or if during the shipping they will place other boxes over it. The safety of your packages relies on you.
– Expensive Gifts.
Think carefully about how much you want to send. The cost of the shipping will increase depending on the size and weight of your package. If you are sending beer to some friends or family as a present, you should consider if it is really worth it to carry more than half a dozen.
Can you ship beer internationally?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, alcohol beverage shipping without having a license to do so is illegal. This is because liquid products contained in a fragile glass are considered “dangerous goods”.
They can break inside the package, even if the shipper wraps it very carefully and tightly. If the liquid leaks, it can damage other packages. Besides, the broken glass could cut through the wrapping and hurt an employee or the person receiving the package.
To prevent this kind of problems, shipping couriers prefer to have strict policies on shipping beer, wine, and other alcoholic products. Still, this doesn’t stop people from shipping beer and other products daily.
You should look first what restrictions and prohibitions do the shipping companies have when shipping to other countries. Also, you should investigate about the import restrictions that the destination country may have. Some countries have additional taxes for specific packages.
In some countries, like the UK and Ireland, it is forbidden to receive any alcohol.
To sum it up, shipping to other countries is something that can be done, but you must be very careful. Take your time to research and learn what laws about alcohol shipping are in the destination country. Also, follow all the tips above to avoid accidents as much as possible.
If you want to ship beer through Europe, you can use shipping companies like Eurosender. It is a courier company in Europe that allows users to ship beer and other alcoholic beverages around the continent and even outside, as long as the package obeys the laws and restrictions of the countries you are shipping to.
Getting into the Groove
Shipping beer can seem very complicated. There are many things you must take care of to secure that the package will arrive safely at the point of destination. You also have to make sure you are not breaking some fundamental laws.
It looks like a lot for something you may not be doing frequently. You may only do it occasionally: if you want to send a gift to a friend or if you bought some bottles during your vacations and want them to arrive safely to your home. According to most of EU countries’ restrictions, a travelling person can only carry 110 litres of beer, and travelers from non-EU countries can take only 16 litres.
But if it is something you want to do, you are not entirely out of options. Use FedEx and UPS for your shipping, and avoid USPS altogether. As long as you keep your products safe and well packed, there is no need to be announcing what is inside the box.
Take note of the tips and tricks explained above before doing your shipping. That way, you will prevent accidents, and you will feel assured that your package will arrive in the best conditions. Do not forget that shipping companies will discard boxes with leaking that could damage other packages, so take all the precautions needed.
Lastly, you should research about the destination country and prepare yourself for any circumstances in case your package doesn’t arrive as you wanted.
If you are a new homebrewer and want to start shipping your product, you can contact the local brewing community. They are especially helpful for those who are beginning in this kind of projects. Do not be afraid to search for their advice; they are often friendly and trustworthy.
After announcing my beer of the month club reviews, a few readers asked me whether the clubs would ship to their state. I admit, I was stumped.
So I brought in a Beer Shipping Expert.
Rick Boyd is the owner of Brewforia, a craft beer store in Meridian, Idaho. Brewforia also sells beer online, so I asked Rick if he would help me out in understanding the beer shipping laws.
Even the most casual observer is aware of the revolution in brewing that is taking place. In the past five years, hundreds of breweries have opened in every region of the country and these new brewers are challenging the status quo by producing beers like the world has never seen. So how does someone who lives in Nashville, TN get their hands on a bottle of T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from Midnight Sun Brewing in Alaska? Let me tell you, it’s not easy.
We’re very accustomed in this country to heading down to the local store and buying whatever product we want. Pretty much no matter where you live you can buy the latest electronics or fashions, enjoy the latest movies or music and even some of the most exotic ethnic cuisines, but it’s not that simple with beer. Thanks to the extremely limited brewing capacity of craft brewers and the antiquated laws regulating the sale of alcohol, getting a bottle of some of the rarest and most interesting craft beers is almost impossible. That said, there is one place you can turn – the internet.
With the Granholm vs Heald ruling, the Supreme Court made it possible for people order alcohol, specifically wine online and have it shipped direct to their homes. Since this ruling, a handful of retailers have started offering selections of craft beer for sale online. The internet is really the craft brewers best chance to get their beer into as many different hands possible since it doesn’t require any expansion of brewing capacity or restrictive distribution contracts. Expect to see online beer sales grow rapidly and possibly overtake wine sales by volume in the years to come.
What you need to know when ordering beer online:
- What are the laws in your state: Not every state permits shipments of alcohol to residents so if you live in PA, TX, MA, UT, MD, DE, AR, OK, MT, ME, SD, KY, AK, HI, WV or MS then you can’t have alcohol of any kind delivered to you. There are companies out there that do not adhere to or are not aware of laws from state to state and may be shipping to residents of these states which could land them and possibly even the resident in legal trouble. Even states that do permit shipments of alcohol to residents have certain legal restrictions and requirements that must be met. Some states don’t allow anything with an alcohol content greater than a set percentage and many others put a monthly or annual limit on the amount of alcohol a person or household can receive from out of state retailers.
- Who can ship: There are only two legal ways to ship alcohol in the United States. A retailer must be licensed to sell alcohol by a state that permits shipments in and out of that state and must have an alcohol shippers contract with either UPS or FedEx. The US Postal Service does not permit shipments of alcohol. It is illegal for a non-licensed individual to ship alcohol.
- Signing for the order: When you buy alcohol online the package should ship with a sticker on each box identifying it as containing alcohol and when either UPS or FedEx show up with the packages there will have to be someone over 21 years of age to sign for receipt of the order. If you think about it, this makes sense otherwise minors might end up in possession of product they shouldn’t have. UPS and FedEx charge each retailer several dollars per box to collect this signature and if by the third attempt no one has been available to sign for the package it is sent back to the retailer.
- Cost: Beer is heavy so its going to be somewhat expensive to ship it so be prepared to spend at least what it cost for the beer. A little trick is the more you order typically the less the cost. If you order a case (24 bottles) you can get the shipping cost down as a percentage of each bottle.
So with all these hoops to jump through and additional expense why should you be considering buying beer online? Well, frankly it’s about the only way you’re ever going to be able to get that special bottle from that tiny brewery on the other side of the country. So if you take your beer seriously and want to try the best the world has to offer, it’s all just a few mouse clicks away.
If you’re one of those unfortunate souls that lives in a state that doesn’t currently permit alcohol shipments to its residents, then you need to be vocal. Call your state representatives and tell them that they should support consumer choice and allow you to buy the products you want. We are also working on getting these states to open their doors to shipping, but we can’t do it without people in those states demanding it.
Remember to watch my video on the best beer membership clubs that ship beer to your doorstep every month.