Beer of the Month Club: Choose Wisely

I think we all know how this ends...

Last year, my wife purchased me a three month subscription to the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club, and I have to say it was a bit of a disaster.  You see, she chose the “Original” option and I was more than a little underwhelmed with what arrived each month.  After sharing my disappointment here on the blog, Brett Olsen from BOTMC responded, saying perhaps my lovely wife had chosen the wrong option for a geek such as myself.  It turns out that this was good advice, which my wife took to heart. 

Click to see what a difference selecting "Rare" makes. It's well worth it for $9 a month more.

This year, my wife once again signed me up for the Beer of the Month Club, but this time she selected the “Rare” option, and that seems to have made all the difference in the world.  Sure, the “Rare” club costs more and provides you with fewer ounces of beer for your money, but the difference was obvious the moment I opened the box.  Inside were two 750ml bottles of corked goodness – a Bink Grand Cru from Brouwerij Kerkom and a 2009 Cellar Reserve Sheep Eater Scotch Ale from Grand Teton Brewing Co.  That’s more like it!  I hadn’t heard of or had either of these beers, and both were instantly intriguing.

I cracked open the Bink Grand Cru on Saturday night and it was a remarkable brew.  It was sweet and a bit boozy (at 13% ABV this makes sense) with wonderful fig and raisin flavors capped with an earthy chocolate aftertaste.  It got better and better as it warmed, and it was so satisfying and complex, it was the only beer I needed that evening.  I haven’t tried the Sheep Eater Scotch Ale yet (why rush through my goodies?) but it looks like a winner as well.  I’m looking forward to seeing what other treats arrive in the coming months.

I think he'd say my wife has chosen...wisely.

As our regular readers know, I have a knack for making mistakes that others can learn from, and my experience with the Beer of the Month Club is no different.  If you’re a beer geek or, like my wife, are considering giving the Beer of the Month Club to a beer-obsessed person in your life, be a hero and click the “Rare” button.  For me this difference turned a disappointment into a triumph of beer geekery.  In my book, there really is no other choice.

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

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24 Comments on “Beer of the Month Club: Choose Wisely”

  1. January 31, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Nice lineup of beers there, Jim. The Grand Teton Cellar’s Reserve line is quality. I haven’t had the Sheep Eater, but I’ve had a few others. Haven’t been disappointed. And since I know you like stouts, if you ever can get their Black Cauldron IS, do. It’s quite tasty. Comes in 12 oz. bottles which is nice. The EKU 28 is the only other one I’ve had on there. That one is a sweet sipper. Lovely beer candy that one. Enjoy and Cheers!

    • January 31, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks, Chad. I don’t ever see Grand Teton stuff around here, so the Sheep Eater should be a treat.

  2. January 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Jim – thanks for taking one for the team. After reading your comments last week of the BOTMC, I mentioned it to my wife and explained the various options. She asked which one I would want and I said “Rare”; she just rolled her eyes and said “of course you want that one.” I have a 25th anniversary coming up this year so I’m thinking that would make an awesome gift from a loving and giving wife (this post will show up in her inbox sometime today). I’m ok with two 750ml bottles each month.

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Good choice, Greg. While the “Rare” option might sound fancy and cost a bit more, it’s totally worth it. I hope your wife hoos you up. And if she’s reading this, Hi Greg’s wife!

  3. January 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    That’s good to hear! (No Saranac?) I’ve talked to a few people who’ve also been happy with the ‘rare’ selection too. Gets expensive though!

    • January 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      No Saranac (hooray!).

      It’s only $9 a month more than the “original” club (the one that had the Saranac in it), and even if you get 1/3 the beer if you count by the ounce, you get 10x the pleasure.

      I honestly think that any other plan is a waste of money.

  4. January 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Hey Jim,

    I’ve been doing a beer of the month club experiment on my blog and have tested a few clubs, including the ones you mentioned. I reached the same conclusion.

    The domestic 12-pack clubs have underwhelmed. For the price, it’s just not worth it considering what I can obtain locally. I think they have their place though. They’re good for gifts to someone who is new to craft beer and needs to be force fed. A 1 or 2 month membership for a craft beer noob isn’t a bad idea.

    The rare beer club is the only one I’ve stayed a member of. They send some really interesting beers that I wouldn’t normally wouldn’t have known about. The price is steep, but I’ve cut back on other beer purchases to make room. I think it’s worth it. Nice post!

    • January 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      Thanks Billy. I was happy to see two beers that I’ve never heard of arrive at my door. The one I had was exquisite and unique, and I have high hopes for the other as well. I agree that it’s worth the price, especially when you think about the time, effort and expense you’d have to go through to trade for these.

      I also think that the Rare selections are fine for anyone who’s interested in beer, even noobs. The “original” club sends beers that are pretty common, and even if you can’t get those exact beers where you live, it’s very easy to match their style/flavor profile with locally available beers. I don’t think this is the case with the Rare club, so it has a distinct advantage IMO.

  5. The Rissa
    January 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    It must really suck to have a wife who cares enough to buy you a present that she thinks you’ll enjoy, especially a present that will keep hooking you up with free booze month after month.

    A lover of craft/rare beers myself, I understand being disappointed with the selection (I definitely would have been bummed too), but if I were your wife I would have been pretty upset to read a blog where you basically crap all over the gift she bought you. Reacting that way seems like it might just shut her out completely and make her uninterested in learning about and appreciating good beer.

    I’ve never bitched about a beer my husband bought me. Critiqued? Yes. But it’s still a gift that should be accepted with grace.

    • January 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      Well when you put it that way…

      My wife loves good beer, too, and she thought her gift sucked as much or more than I did. She’s not some wide-eyed noob – she knows good beer, but didn’t really check the details before selecting the category the first time around. We laughed about it togehter and drank the sub-par beers that came every month together as well.

      • The Rissa
        January 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

        Well that’s good. As long as you guys are cool. I just felt kind of sorry for her. You really ran train on that “Original” option…

        • January 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

          Nice to see you sticking up for her, but trust me, it’s all good!

        • Don
          January 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

          Yeah, Rissa, someone wears the pants in that family, and I can tell you from personal observation it isn’t my brother!!!

        • January 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

          Well I ALWAYS wear pants when you’re around Don – cuts down on the wedgies!!

        • Don
          January 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

          No, they just give me leverage!

  6. January 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Wow, that sort of speaks volumes about BOTMC that they’d take the time to respond like that.

    • January 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      Agreed, John. Brett’s reply was originally in the comments of the post where I trashed the club. I thought his response deserved to be seen, so I gave him his own post.

      • January 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

        It makes me want to give my money to them. My brother’s birthday is still a while off (July) but BOTMC sort of rocketed up the list of potential gifts.

        • January 31, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

          It’s a cool deal, just make sure to get him the Rare. Unless he’s an ass, then click “original.” 😉

      • January 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

        This gives me a great idea for a prank. His wife would help me out on this. When a shipment comes in- say, the third or fourth shipment, after some consistency and quality has been established- I’ll have her swap it out with something like Nat. Light or Miller Low Life.

        • January 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

          I see a 40 of Olde English 800 in his future! 😉

  7. February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Ha. RJ Rockers is right up the road from me. I can’t believe they’d ship you that. They definitely have a better beer in the lineup that should be sent out – Black Perle.

    • February 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Yeah, it’s just not the breweries they pick for the “original” club – it’s the mainstream selections they include from those places. I understand it’s for beer noobs, but I still find it disappointing.


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