This is the first part of a series dedicated to exploring the newly popular option of Craft Beer Subscriptions – boxes delivered to your door, usually monthly, filled with craft beer. The idea behind these are usually twofold: exclusivity (usually beer that one cannot find in the LCBO or TBS), efficiency (breweries from around Ontario or even Canada that one cannot access reasonably), as well as limited-time offerings catered to each month or user.
Reddit is a funny place.
If you have never been to the r/TorontoCraftBeer sub-reddit, it’s a place where a very small number of Toronto beer nerds hang out and ardently discuss articles, breweries, and events in Ontario. This was where Adam Kurello and Chris Tarsitano pitched their idea as an expansion to their existing service, On The Rocks Bartending Services; a craft beer-of-the-month club.
In some discussion with OTR, their offerings were originally not exclusive or efficient, and placed the link to the subscription site online for feedback from Toronto’s most savvy beer people, where it was promptly given (probably too much) constructive feedback. Heading back to the drawing board, OTR sent me a their May Craft Beer of the Month club box for delicious evaluation, and I thought it’d be a great time to kick off a new multi-part series to educate beer drinkers and decipher which of the many beer subscription services in Ontario make their beer tastes and wallets happiest.
OTR’s site about the club, while still under construction, is all about letting you know what you’ll get. I found this system to be the opposite of some other subscription services, where the box remains a mystery until you get it at your door. While there are benefits to both, I think there’s something positive to be said for the amount of planning ahead it takes to line up this type of brewery-tripping to get beer you can’t get at your LCBO.
OTR says that in each monthly box, you’ll receive two bottles or tall cans from 4 breweries (totaling 8), one each in the four compass directions of Ontario – In the case of the box I got, Stonehammer from Guelph, Brock Street from Whitby, Brimstone from Ridgeway, and Highlander from just north of Huntsville. You also receive 6 bottles or cans of their Craft Beer of the Month, which is selected by the team at OTR, for your enjoyment, which in this case, was Barnstormer’s Billy Bishop Brown (which, at the time, was not yet in Beer Store locations, I am told).
As one can see from the image, I was not disappointed in the selection – the beers received were unique and not regularly available to me, a great selection of styles, and held up to the promise of the amount of beer I would be getting for what I would pay if i subscribed. On to the stats:
Cost/Commitment: $49 a month, tax and hand delivery included. 3, 6, 9 or 12 month memberships. No cancellation fees.
Predicted Value: about $40 for this particular box
Exclusivity: Save for the Barnstormer beer of the month, I would not normally make my way to these breweries from where I am located. This will evidently vary geographically (for example, Brock St. in Whitby is a 10 minute drive away for me, and I’m sure there will be a point where a person receives cans from the brewery next door, but that’s just the way these things work), but for the cost and predicted value, you are paying so little of a premium that it’s not worth the complaint. And, of course, these beers are not widely distributed, so you’re likely going to be trying a great majority of new stuff, which is the point, no?
Efficiency: In a world where there’s tons of terrible craft beer that is often priced at the same as the excellent stuff, boxes like OTR’s give you the chance to try new things from places you may have never been or ever seen. I find OTR’s box to be of excellent value for a dollar as far as exploration goes; the fun of peeking into your freshly-delivered beer box once a month is something that I really get a kick out of.
Interested in subscribing? The folks at OTR have let us know that you can get 5% off by using “BottomlessPint” as a promo code here: Sign Up
Stay on the lookout for the next parts of our ongoing Beer Subscription Box series!
Are you a subscriber to a “Beer Box” already? Have a favourite? Let us know on Twitter @bottomless_pint!