Simple question, not such an easy answer.
Then there is the unique option of LetsPour. It is a quasi flash sale site for buying beer. When new beers are posted you get an email notification. The beers stay posted until they are sold out. Some return to the site and some do not.
The selection is very good. Many of the listing are easy finds if the brewery distributes to your area but there a bunch of rarer bottles that get posted as well, making it an excellent resource for the beer drinker trying to grow his cellar.
I've tested out LetsPour and will let you know what I think:
Your biggest hesitation to buying from LetsPour will be price. Here is a truism about buying beer online in general: it's not cheap.
Whether it's LetsPour, another online retailer, or a beer of the month club, buying beer online will be significantly more expensive than buying locally. Shipping costs are a bitch. I can attest to this as someone who ships beer all over the country for beer trades.
So how expensive is it?
Let's look at a break down. The pictures below compare beers on LetsPour to the same beers at my local bottle shop, Argonaut Liquor. The first one is Odell IPA:
As you can see, the beer costs 230% more on LetsPour. Of course percentages on low numbers can be deceiving and we're really talking about just under $4 a bottle. (I realize that even locally you won't find a single bottle of Odell IPA for $1.67, but I'm trying to keep things simple here.)
I've found that 12 oz. bottles have the biggest markup on LetsPour. Bombers and 750ml bottles aren't as bad. Let's look at a 22oz bomber, Avery Salvation:
This one is only 56% more expensive on LetsPour, or ~ $4.50. A good way to think about the beer prices on LetsPour is that they're similar to what you would pay at a restaurant.
If getting the most bang for your buck is important to you, focus on larger format bottles because they usually have smaller markups.
As mentioned above, shipping beer is very expensive. The standard rate that I've seen is $19.95 for a shipment on LetsPour. You should never pay that though. If you order six or more bottles at a time, shipping is free. I've never ordered under six and never plan on it as it's much too expensive. The one catch is that the beers must all be shipped from the same region, so you might not get the free shipping if your beers come from different places. The good thing is that there are only three regions and each has many choices. Personally I've never had a problem “finding beers” to hit six.
The takeaway on price is that it's expensive but I don't feel that LetsPour is jacking up the price and earning huge margins. Shipping ain't cheap and they still have to turn a profit. It really comes down to how much you value the beer. If you want something specific and you can't get it locally, the price is probably not a deterrent. If you're happy drinking what you can get in your area and don't feel the desire to venture out into uncharted waters, you probably won't pay the premium.
Well I've never had a broken bottle, so that's good. The beer is packed really well with those molded cardboard packaging things. It'd be very tough to break a bottle unless your UPS man was having a really bad day.
The shipping has been fast for me. Looking back on my last two orders, one took 6 days (including a weekend) and the other took 5. Not bad. The one complaint that I have is that on my most recent shipment the weather was hot and the beers arrived very warm. I would have appreciated an ice-pack or two and would have even paid a couple bucks extra for it. The homebrewing suppliers do this when shipping yeast and it's a big plus.
There are a fair amount of promotions available on LetsPour. A continual one is a “Spin the Bottle” game on the site. The first time I played I got $10 off my order (I'm guessing everyone does) but I haven't won since.
There is the free shipping once you hit six bottles which you should always take advantage of, and there is even a contest for a free trip to Hawaii going on at the moment.
The ad at the bottom of this post will give you a discount as well.
Having ordered three shipments to date I can honestly say that I'm very happy with LetsPour and will continue to use them. It's too expensive to do on a regular basis but on occasion when there are beers I really want for my cellar I will place an order. I love Cigar City so I've bought a bunch of them, even their 12 oz cans. And the Game of Thrones beer – hell yes! (even though that Red Wedding episode really pissed me off)
Here are my tips for getting the most out of LetsPour:
- Never order beers that you can buy locally
- Always get at least six beers and the free shipping
- The best deals are usually on larger format bottles (22oz,750ml, etc.)
- Spin the bottle – you never know
The verdict: recommended
Have you ordered from LetsPour? What's your experience been like?
If you want to try them out you can click the image below to get $10 off and free shipping on your first order. They give me a small cut (which I'll end up giving right back to them as beer money of course) if you buy through my links, so I appreciate the support. Cheers!