Tutorial for Shipping Beer

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talleymonster

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There have been a lot of questions as of late pertaining to shipping beer.
I decided to photograph my process and post a tutorial to help. My methods may not be the same as everybody else uses, but I haven't had a broken bottle yet.


Step 1
Assemble all of your supplies: bubble wrap, tape, box, beer, scissors, etc. I usually use a 14x14x14 box if I'm sending 22oz bottles. If I'm only sending 12oz bottles, I can get away with a 12x12x12 box. I like to use a couple different kinds of bubble wrap for maximum protection (kind of like condoms and birth control pills).



Step 2
Cut out a sheet of bubble wrap long enough and wide enough to make a couple of wraps around your bottle.



Step 3

Roll it. I cut the piece about the same length wide as the bottle is tall. I don't let too much overhang on the top or bottom, and I'll show you why a few steps later. Tape it in place.



Step 4
Roll it again. Here is where I like to employ the larger bubble wrap. You could also just cut your original piece twice as long and wrap it continuously. Again, throw a piece of tape on there to hold it.
 
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talleymonster

talleymonster

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Step 5
Once you have all of your libations wrapped in bubble wrap, stack them in the best configuration for your box. Run a few wraps of packing tape around the whole bundle to keep it all together. You want to try to keep everything in the center of the box with a good 2-3 inches of space all the way around. You want to bundle-o-beer to be suspended in the center of the box, surrounded by cushioning material (foam peanuts, bubble wrap, newspaper, bags of hops, etc)





Step 6

Place your bundle of beer in a heavy duty trash bag. Tie it closed, and maybe even throw a strip of tape around it. Then I place them in another bag, upside down from the other direction. This way if a bottle does happen to break (not likely) you have a good barrier to keep the liquid from oozing all the way out through the box. You could also place each bottle individually in a Ziploc bag, thus containing the leak at it's source. Some people will seal the bottles individually in food saver bags, an idea that I really like. I just don't have a food saver, yet. We'll see if Santa has been paying attention to my hints.



Step 7

Line the bottom of your box with bubble wrap (or crumbled newspaper, foam peanuts, etc). This is why I don't cut my sheets long. It's easier to stand them up and bundle them when they have a flat bottom. The bubble wrap on the bottom of the box will cushion the bottom of the bottles.
 
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talleymonster

talleymonster

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Step 8
Place your bundle in the box on top of your bed of bubble wrap. Try to keep it centered in the box. Now stuff all sides with your choice of cushioning. Cram it in there tight. You want to box to be full, without much room for compression. On the other hand, you don't want to over stuff it so that it is no longer square, bulging out on the sides. You want the box to retain it's shape. Once it is all in place, put another bed of cushion on top of the beer. This protects the tops of the bottles.



Step 9
Seal the box, fill out the name and address and haul ass to your courier of choice (NOT USPS!!!) and mail that beer!



Don't tell them that you're shipping beer. In my experience they are not real pushy about what's in the box. if they truly must know, tell them it's live yeast samples, salsa, barbecue sauce, etc....just something that is similar in size and weight.


Did I miss anything?



Well, I hope that this is helpful to everybody. Now, try this method out and send me some beer!:D
 

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I haven't shipped often, but that is pretty similar to what I do. The only thing I do extra is put each bottle in a gallon zip-lock bag. Just in case there is a broken bottle, it shouldn't get onto the other bottles.
 

McKBrew

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I definately overdo it when I ship. I'm sure Talley will be able to attest to that when he gets the bottle of The Dissident I sent him.
 

DrinksWellWithOthers

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Nice work. This thread came in perfect timing; I'm shipping beer this week for the first time and was going to start looking for threads to answer some of the questions I had.
 

GearBeer

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I'm putting in another vote for stickeyhood. I'm interested in sending some of my Car Cover Holiday Ale to my buddy and this post answered all of my questions about shipping brews.
 

nathan

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I've been collecting the aluminum bottles and may try to cap some soon so I can use the biermuncher ghetto picnic-tap-bottle-filler and send out individual beers in aluminum bottles, where they should be quite well protected. If they survived the freezing process, that is.
 

mramann

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Hey folks - anyone tried shipping full cornies? Any advice?
 

BoyScout

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Great thread. The only step missing was the one that included my address. All beer shipped should always be shipped to my place for consuming. Please pay all postage in advance.
For information regarding my current address please contact me through HBT.com, thanks!:fro:
 

fermenator

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I just wanted to add that I use a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer on all my bottles just as an added safety precaution. That way if a bottle cracks or it's cap comes loose it's still contained.
 

Kung_Pow_34

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Just interested... if you go to that much trouble to package the brew, we're avoiding shipping via USPS because why? Oh, it's illegal? Ok, got it. Anyone have anything to say about this?

Does anyone have "a friend" that ships via USPS and has found no problem?
 

womencantsail

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Just interested... if you go to that much trouble to package the brew, we're avoiding shipping via USPS because why? Oh, it's illegal? Ok, got it. Anyone have anything to say about this?

Does anyone have "a friend" that ships via USPS and has found no problem?
I have shipped beer several times through the USPS and never had a problem. Again, just don't tell them what's in the box. They've never even asked me. Although, I tend to go to the little Post Office "annex" that's down the block.

One thing that I do differently than you is the amount of bubble wrap. I wrap the bottles well, and then make a layer of newspaper on the bottom of the box. Then a bit more bubble wrap on top of that, where I put the bottles. Then I just stuff the rest of the box with newspaper. It's a lot cheaper and does the job just fine.
 

murphyslaw

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Are there any negative effects on the beer after shipping it, with all the jostling around? Is it better to ship it immediately after bottling rather than after it has carbonated?
 

Kass_Brauhaus

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It occurs to me that shipping right after bottling might be bad--with all the temp changes, pressure changes, etc, you have bottle bombs waiting to happen if you messed up...
 

womencantsail

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Just to go back to my previous post...

I posted a question on Beer Advocate regarding the shipping of beer (or any alcohol) as there was a thread in the trading forums dealing with shipping. The explanation I received there was that it is a Federal crime to ship beer via the USPS, while it may simply be a violation to do so using FedEx/UPS/etc.

No one there had ever heard of any harm coming from someone using the USPS, but "didn't want to be the test case either". So, use your preferred carrier, but still, just don't tell them what it really is.
 

Stratotankard

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Somewhere around here there was a thread about legalities of shipping. I think the general consensus was its against the law with USPS and is only against company policy with Purple, Brown and Yellow box movers. As has been stated, most places won't give you much grief about what's in the box, and if they have to know, live yeast samples is a valid answer.

Terje
 

WheeledGoat

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I inquired about this in another thread, and someone directed me here. Nice sticky! I'll reiterate my other post a little;

I inquired at the USPS and stupidly told them the truth of my intentions. They informed me I couldn't ship beer, and I quickly asked, "Why?".

The answer she gave me?

"It's flammable"

Right now, I'm offering a $500 ransom to whomever can set beer on fire. Use anything ya like. Lighter, blow torch, whatever. Show me flammable beer.

So, it still leaves the question, why is it illegal? Is it the alcohol-crossing-state-lines thing? What about wine-of-the-month clubs?
 

bass-a-roo

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What does it typically cost you in packing materials to ship a 14X14X14 box like that one with all the bubble wrap and etc etc. Thanks
 

Gremlyn

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Does anyone worry about shipping temperatures and place cool packs in there with the beer?
 

sharpstick

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i've shipped beer and wine as gifts and competition entries several times. i use fedex with no problems. i always list ingredients as "cooking sauce".
i always wrap in redundant layers of bubble wrap, paper towels and ziplocks in case of any breakage.
one time i was shipping one bottle to canada and it was an obscenely high amount($50 or so?).
i've also carried 1 or 2 bottles of wine in my checked luggage. in paper towels, ziplock, towels, stuffed in a boot in the very center of a duffel bag.
 

sharpstick

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What does it typically cost you in packing materials to ship a 14X14X14 box like that one with all the bubble wrap and etc etc. Thanks
depends on size, weight and distance to destination. the websites usually have that info.
 

avibayer

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Wanted to say thanks for a great post. I followed the instructions pretty closely and got a six pack from new york to portland, or without any breaking bottles. my friends were very pleased. makes birthdays/holiday seasons easy.
 

Schnitzengiggle

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FWIW, before I stmbled onto this thread, I had shipped 2 packages from AZ to Boston w/o incident, I didn't go quite as overkill on the bubble wrap, but insurance is insurance. Great sticky!:rockin:
 

cheezerman

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I'm not sure if beer is exactly the same as wine, as far as legalities go, but I do ship a lot of wine.

To ship alcohol through FedEX or UPS (and most regional carriers) you need to sign a contract.

Both FedEX and UPS do not allow alcohol to be shipped from consumer to consumer. (sources 1 2)

USPS does not allow alcohol of any kind to be shipped.

So take such advice with a grain of salt. If you ship beer through USPS, FedEX, or USPS, you at best are violating their terms of service, and at worse, possibly committing a felony (in the case of a felony alcohol state).

Disclaimer, I am not a lawyer, this is just my interpretation of their rules.
 

sea2summit3

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Are these bottle conditioned beers that everyone is shipping? Will the yeast sediment settle out well enough afterward for entry into a homebrew competition? This will be my first time shipping my beer and entering into a competition...
 

Gremlyn

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I shipped beer to the HBT competition and they made sure to let them settle a couple of weeks before the judging. Guess it depends on the comp.
 

gallagherman

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I did this recently and when I walked up to the counter at the post office, I forgot they were going to ask me what was inside. I panicked and said uh.... books! So he slapped a "media" sticker on it and said it may take longer. Whoops. I figured my beer was surely going to end up all over someone else's book packages. Needless to say they got there alright.
 

alexand3r

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Thanks for this tutorial, it's very thorough and I don't think there's a chance of those bottles breaking!

I did find a couple of other solutions though and just thought that I'd share with the community what I found. Not as cheap, but they may look a little more "clean cut" or give you that "professional" look for delivery as a gift for birthdays or holidays. Here are the links:

http://www.radva.com/BeerShipper.html

http://www.clarkbrewing.com/Clark_Brewing_Innovations/Bottle_Shipping_System.html

Take care and Happy Brewing!
 

rexbanner

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This post is fine, but any posts involving pot or selling beer get flamed and deleted. Some people need to recognize that not too long ago all of this was illegal in the U.S. Also, any competent doctor would tell you marijuana is far less harmful to society than alcohol.
 

remilard

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There are some good tips in the OP but I think he uses more bubble wrap and definitely more tape than is necessary. If you are shipping to a comp, try to consider that somebody is unpacking like 50 boxes. My amendments would be:

1. Get the perforated bubble wrap and use one sheet per bottle. Attach it with a rubber band (works as well as tape, much easier to unpack). The point here is just to make sure glass never touches glass.

2. One layer of the large bubble bubble wrap around the outside wouldn't hurt anything.

3. Pack the box TIGHT. Preventing movement is 29% of the battle (60% was preventing glass on glass contact).

4. I very recently heard Gordon Strong on The Brewing Network talk about building an insulated box. I did this for NHC first round this year and it isn't all that expensive and was very easy. Just get the pink foam board and cut pieces to line the bottom, sides and top of the box (just score it with a knife and it breaks pretty clean over your knee). Then you pack the box and leave it in the fridge over night. If you don't have that much cold space, just get the bottles really cold and then pack and seal it. This apparently got Gordon's 2 day morning delivery shipped beers to Oakland in June still COLD. My wife just went to visit family back West and we sent some commercial beers this way so she could unpack them and get a first hand idea of how well it works. We also plan to do some experiments where we leave an uninsulated, insulated, and insulated with a cold pack box out for a couple days and see which works best. Unless I can't figure out how to make it work at all, I will use this in warm weather months from now on for competitions or just sharing.

ETA: I used 1" foam board, not sure what GS used. It does happen to work out perfectly for standard 12 oz longnecks in a 12" box though.
 

Eddiebosox

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Definitely dont tell them you're shipping beer. It's against federal law. We're trying to write a bill at the federal level to allow it for home brew competitipns. Also, some private mail services, like DHL, may allow it.
 
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