Craft Beer Connect is a family-owned and operated beer of the month club that specializes in Californian microbreweries. It was launched in 2012 after two brothers had moved to San Diego from the East Coast and fallen in love with the local beer. To share these amazing, hard-to-find microbrews with the members of their beer club, the brothers began establishing relationships with different breweries around California. After carefully evaluating the quality of the brewery, the brothers would then select the beers they wanted to offer their members. Today, they currently work with over 40 breweries and have about 200 unique beers featured. What really makes Craft Beer Connect unique from other beer clubs is that members are allowed to choose which beers they want to receive in their monthly shipments or they can let CBC choose for them.
The Classics Beer Club is the least expensive of the four memberships that CBC offers and provides members access to CBC's Tier 1 beers, which make up 30% of its inventory. Each monthly shipment will include a newsletter with updates on the club and six 22-ounce bottles of beer (two bottles of three different types). If you want to make your own beer selections, you must "lock in" your choices within the members' area of CBC's website before the 22nd of the month or CBC will just choose beers for you. Similar to a Netflix subscription, membership is ongoing until you cancel and you will be charged on a monthly basis. The Classics Beer Club costs $30 per month (plus S&H), and you can make changes to your membership (upgrade/downgrade) or cancel anytime you want without incurring any fees.
We give the Classics Beer Club from Craft Beer Connect a B. We think it is a great introductory beer club membership and CBC does a good job of providing affordable premium microbrews from California. We also really like that you can easily select which beers you want to receive from their website. We had to deduct points because CBC doesn't offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and because their newsletter doesn't provide any information about the specific beers in your shipment. We also wish that members of the Classics Beer Club had access to more than just 30% of CBC's inventory. We really like and recommend the Classics Beer Club, but, if you can afford to spend another $15 per month, we'd probably suggest signing up for the Premium Beer Club from Craft Beer Connect, which will give you access to 70% of their inventory.
The Classics Beer Club from Craft Beer Connect has received positive reviews online. It is a great introductory package if you want to try out CBC, and you can easily upgrade (or downgrade) your membership whenever you want. We have been treating ourselves to the Specialties Beer Club (Tier 3) since June 2013 and have absolutely loved our experience. Our biggest complaints about Craft Beer Connect are mostly general ones. First, we wish that they offered a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We've never had any issue with our shipments, but we would be really annoyed if something was wrong with a bottle and CBC wouldn't refund or replace it. We also wish that CBC's newsletter included more educational information on the featured beers (brewery background, tasting notes, etc.). The website has this information, but a customized printed handout in each shipment seems to be standard for other monthly beer and wine clubs and is just easier to check out while you are trying to enjoy your beer. Plus, since the beers are so good, we usually like to save a few for guests, and it is definitely more fun when you can tell your guests how you "found" this amazing beer and then share the handout with them.
With that said, we love that CBC members are given the option of choosing which beers they want to receive. This is an awesome feature that you don't normally see from a beer club and definitely makes the process more fun and interactive. Originally from the East Coast myself, I'm not very familiar with Californian breweries, and so I also find it really helpful that CBC's website includes the ratings each beer has received from other members, RateBeer and Beer Advocate. While I wish their newsletters contained more information about the beers, it is obvious from CBC's website and newsletters that these guys have a serious passion for beer that is infectious. If you just want to try out a beer club membership, the Classics Beer Club is a great place to start. However, since you'll only have access to 30% of their beer inventory, beer connoisseurs who can afford to spend a little more might be interested in the Premium membership, which provides access to 70% of the beer inventory for another $15, or the Specialties membership, which provides access to 100% of the beer inventory for another $30.
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