How Many Beers Can You Fit in Your Suitcase?

I’ve been flying around America a lot for the past couple of weeks, first visiting our folks in Milwaukee, then escorting our mom out to Don’s house in Idaho.  In my travels, I’ve encountered some great beers that I want to share with friends and family.  But sharing means carrying, and carrying means putting bottles of beer in my checked luggage, a carry-on sized American Tourister.

My first effort was bringing three 12 oz. bottles of beer from our mom’s house in Milwaukee to Don in Idaho.  If you’re curious, I packed a bottle of New Glarus Enigma, a Bell’s Two Hearted and a New Glarus Spotted Cow.  I wrapped the Spotted Cow in a few sheets of paper towelling, then placed it side-by side with the Enigma and the Two Hearted inside a large ziplock bag.  I then wrapped all three in a couple of soft shirts and zipped up the suitcase, fingers crossed that they’d make it from Milwaukee to Arizona to Idaho unharmed.  And they did! 

Emboldened by my success, I picked up a four pack of New Glarus Enigma (a rare and wonderfully tart oak aged cherry ale) on my return to our mom’s house in Milwaukee with the intention of taking them home to New Jersey with me.  I also had a Bell’s Two Hearted left over from a six pack I had purchased.  I’m not leaving that behind!  So I wrapped each of the five beers in soft shirts and surrounded them with “buffer” clothes to keep them in the middle of the case.  It was tight, but everything fit.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Newark.  Would the suitcase be sopping wet and smell like a brewery (and my tears), or would the bottles survive a roughing up by the overworked baggage handlers?  I’m happy to say that all five bottles made in home safely and have been placed into my beer collection for future enjoyment and sharing.  Mission accomplished!

My first experiences packing beer into a suitcase has made me greedy and ambitious. Who knows how many I can pack in the future?  Rick at Brewforia was telling Don and I that he has a special hard-sided suitcase he purchased just for transporting beer.  His record is successfully bring 32 22oz. bombers from San Francisco back to Boise.  That’s impressive.

Have you ever packed beer into your suitcase and put it through the punishing hands of baggage handlers? What’s your record?  Any horror stories or triumphs?

As always, let us know below!

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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17 Comments on “How Many Beers Can You Fit in Your Suitcase?”

  1. August 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Can’t you just drive and fill the boot (sorry, trunk in your speak)?

    OK, I know distances tend to be rather greater over there, but if you really want to bring it all back home then why not?

    • Don
      August 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

      In my experience Keith, it comes down to cost and time, plain and simple. For example I was thinking about driving to the Great American Brewers Festival in Denver. It takes 14 hours to drive there, and costs more in gas (Petrol in your speak) than it does to fly, and I can be there in an hour by plane. This saves me two more days on the road, hotel costs, meals, etc. Plus, bootlegging is actually illegal in this country still, although I don’t think it is enforced anymore, so all those cool Smoky and the Bandit scenarios no longer exist sadly… 😦

    • August 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

      The distances are huge Keith, so we flew back and forth. So I had to hand my suitcase off to the baggage handlers at the airport who are none-too-gentle with suitcases.

      It’s easy to see you’re from Europe, where everything is much closer. My sister’s husband is French (Basque actually), and the first time he visited Connecticut, he wanted to go to Florida for the afternoon! He had no idea of the scale of the country. It’s a common thing.

    • Don
      August 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

      Keith I just did a quick Mapquest equation for illustrative purposes. Jim’s town is 2501 miles from my town ( that is 4025 km). To drive it would take him 38 hours of driving time. If the average person can drive 12 hours a day that is 4 days drive. If you really pushed it you could do it in 3. Gas cost in a car that gets 24 MPG (that is miles per gallon or 38.6 kmpg) it would cost approximately $295 in gas (petrol) for one way. Then he would have to turn around and do it again in the other direction. $600 is far more than he paid for his plane ticket and that is how they get you in America!

      • August 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

        Way to break it down, nerd.

        • Don
          August 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

          I never pass up a chance for a good word problem!

  2. Matt
    August 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Funny you made this article. I am about to send my girlfriend back to VA from CO with 9 bottles of sweat nectar for my cousin. I think I’m just going to buy some bubble wrap and wrap them individually and spread them out between clothes. Hopefully they make it and hes happy with the selection.

    the list:

    Russian River – Supplication
    Russian River – Pliny the Elder x2
    Great Divide – Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
    Great Divide – 16th Anniversary
    Avery – Maharaja
    Goose Island – Bourbon County Stout
    The Bruery – Coton Anniversary
    New Belgium – La Folie

    i think i might shed a tear if something happens to them.

    • August 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

      Good luck, Matt, that’s a good selection of beer. I’d be thrilled if I were your cousin, except for the La Folie, which was a pour-out for me. But if he’s a sour guy I’m sure he’ll love it.

      Maybe you should send your girlfriend to New Jersey instead. Or at least her luggage. 🙂

      • Matt
        August 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

        haha yea i was mixed about La Folie i thought it was good but not great. He’s actually never had a sour and i felt the need to choose between Consecration and Supplication and went Supp…but i also wanted to get him something from New Belgium and well other then La Folie, Erics, and 1554…i’m not a big fan of anything else they make and wanted to have something to go up against the Supplication. As for the list i could have added another 15-20 beers to it easy, but maybe this will give him and his wife motivation to come out here and visit.

        • August 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

          If he’s never had a sour, I’m willing to venture that the La Folie will be his last!

  3. August 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    My God! I wish I knew how many beers I had stuffed into suitcases. The mind is boggled. Also, I have to apologize that I’ve not been to your site for a while. I love to check in and read what you fellows write. Life has truly been insane for the last few weeks.

    • August 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

      Glad to hear from you Mike. I hope all of your goodies made it home safe. I’ve heard some sad tales of breakage.

      • August 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

        I’ve never had anything broken…just over do it.

        It’s good to be here. It has been a crazy past month and it’s going to slow down a bit for a while, so I’ll back on here more regularly.

  4. August 20, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    Many times I’ve sent beer back in a suitcase. The problem is not damage, but cost. On most airlines, it is $25 to send the bag to the destination and $25 to send the bag home. It is often cheaper to carry on your bag, buy a styrofoam shipper at your destination, and send the beer back by FedEx or UPS.

    • August 20, 2010 at 8:44 am #

      That’s probably the best way to go Jeff. It costs me about $30 to ship a dozen 12 ounce beers to Don (NJ to ID) plus the cost of a cooler.

      On this trip I was checking my bag anyway, so it didn’t cost extra, but generally shipping makes sense.

  5. Evan
    August 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    My record = 2 full suitcases of ONLY beer (with some padding to ensure their safety)

    • August 21, 2010 at 9:04 am #

      Bet you paid the heavy bag fee!

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