Whether you’re sending your homebrew off to a competition, trading hard-to-find beer, or bringing it home from your latest beercation, you want it to arrive in its absolute best condition. We’ve tried every method in the book for transporting beer, and here are some of our tips for getting it there unscathed, at the right temperature, for the right price.
Styrofoam Shippers (with Cardboard Outer Boxes)
Pros: Readily available for single unit purchase (no bulk quantity required); insulates beer in shipping; foam absorbs impact well; reusable; waterproof
Cons: Bulky; beer caps can chew into styrofoam if not protected
Expert Opinion: When shipping through delivery services, especially in winter, this is our method of choice. We wrap bottles with bubble wrap inside of the shipper to fill any void and prevent movement of the bottle, then tape around the styrofoam to seal it, and place that in a plastic garbage bag to seal again. Then we place that inside of the carboard outer box and seal. This method is not foolproof—we’ve still had bottles break or freeze when shipped this way—but it’s safer than the alternatives when the package is out of your hands.
Spirited Shipper Cardboard Shippers
12 bottle shippers are $8.75 from spiritedshipper.com (plus shipping)
Pros: Lightweight; packs flat; relatively inexpensive; reusable
Cons: No insulation; no room in shipper for extra padding
Expert Opinion: These shippers are fantastic for shipping in warmer weather or when you’re shipping in bulk (they ship flat to you and you fold them into shape Ikea-style, saving plenty on shipping compared to bulky styrofoam shippers). It’s a good idea to stick to heavier weight bottles if you’re using them—Belgian-style heavyweight bottles can stand up to the stress of shipping more than thinner-walled 12 oz and 22 oz bottles. We’ve had bottles break in these, but the failure rate is no better or worse than any other method.
Pressed Pulp Wine Shippers (with Cardboard Outer Boxes)
12 bottle shippers are typically $6–$7 when purchased in bulk (plus shipping)
Pros: Stackable; lightweight; inexpensive; somewhat reusable
Cons: Loose fitting; require extra packaging; no insulation; not waterproof
Expert Opinion: One of the best uses we’ve found for these pressed pulp shippers is to stack them and stuff the stack in your luggage, then use them inside your suitcase on a return trip to protect your bottles. They’re inexpensive, and the fact that they fit together makes them easy to consolidate when shipping empty. For delivery services, we prefer other methods because bottles fit so loosely inside of them, they aren’t insulated, and the paper pulp will fail if a bottle breaks, putting all the rest of your bottles at risk.
Bubble-Wrapped Bottles Packed with Paper or Peanuts
$17 for a 150-foot roll plus the cost of an exterior shipping box
Pros: Inexpensive; readily available materials; adaptable to any bottle size
Cons: More movement of bottles in the box, not waterproof without lots of tape; difficult to pack and even more difficult to unpack
Expert Opinion: Truthfully, we prefer this method over pressed pulp shippers, as each bottle or can is protected from impact and if a bottle or can breaks or punctures, it doesn’t put the others at risk. Wrap each bottle or can individually, then tape them together so they don’t move independently, and place that unit in a plastic bag to protect from leaks in the event a bottle breaks. The recipient will have an adventure unpacking the box, but odds are your precious cargo will arrive safely.