Hey there boys and girls!
Today I’m stepping away from my usual formula of bento to give you guys the low down on Beer 52, a company that as you may have guessed from the name sell beer.
Now this is by no means an advertisement, don’t get me wrong.
I haven’t been paid in tasty tasty beer or even money to say anything about them but I do know that other blogs have been so I want to give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as always with Pepper Bento.
So, Beer 52 is a subscription service that for a fixed price of £24 a month, sends you 8 beers once a month.
Now £24 sounds expensive and it is at £3 a bottle but the appeal lies in the fact that they only sell craft beers, that’s small companies beer that do limited runs and aren’t in supermarkets.
Generally the idea would also be that they taste better and are made with more love and care but the proof is in the pudding.
Now, I ordered 3 sets from Beer 52 to get a good idea of their service and range of products and now I want to share them with you.
The first thing I ordered was naturally, a case of beer.
Now the claim by Beer 52 is that you will receive your beer in less than 5 days.
My order came 2 weeks later.
I contacted customer services about it and they replied the next day, not bad at all for a small company and I was politely told there was a backlog and it would be there soon.
Not a great start at all but the package did finally come and the customer service was good.
The box comes highly decorated with the Beer52 logo and lots of other beer related stuff, including some interesting information on different very snooty beer things like food combinations or how to pour a glass of beer properly and what glassware to use with them.
The boxes are indeed beautiful.
I don’t know about you though, but sometimes I want my packages to be discreet and the beer jokes from your local couriers are going to get tiresome rather quickly.
So what’s inside?
If you see a code you like you are by all means welcome to them my dear viewers and you will have plenty of chances because there in abundance in EVERY box, even in a gift box which I will explain later.
Now, I understand adverts keep you afloat and make you that bit extra when you’re doing things for cheap but at £3 a bottle it’s not cheap at all.
Unfortunately it succeeds in looking cheap though so if you buy these as a gift you are pretty much going to look like you got it on some offer and like a bit of a Scrooge.
The beers are packaged very nicely which is a must when sending beer across the country and thankfully no casualties occurred.
With each box you seem to get a small bag of snacks which is a nice touch, this time it was some Popchips which……lets just say I wouldn’t recommend…. ergh.
I received the “Craft Beer Road Trip” book, which is apparently worth £14.99, for the trouble of waiting 2 weeks for the beer.
It’s a decent quality book which is basically an advert really.
There’s a two page piece for each brewing company they work with, each has some info on them, a paragraph or so of writing and some nice photographs of the inner sanctums where these things are made.
I can’t see anyone buying this book, let alone for £15 but it looks good for the company on paper.
So, to the beers!
Indeed, craft beers!
Each one has something interesting about it and each one has a nice little story on the back complete with ingredients which seem to be as simple as you can get, no rubbish added.
Now, something I noticed is that most of the bottles are of a rather small volume at 330ml each, about the amount of a can.
The two bottles to the left, the Moorhouse’s and Oatmeal Stout are 500ml but not many of them are in these sets.
Doing a bit of maths, I got almost 3 litres in this set which is £8 a litre, quite a lot of money you have to say.
So, it’s all in the tasting after all so lets have a drop and see if it really is better than the stuff you can get at the supermarket.
Now, the St Andrews Oatmeal Stout had to be first, the bottle is just beautiful and the idea of an oatmeal stout just had to be tried.
Not being in the elite of snooty master beer tasters of the world we put some more earthly words together to describe this one.
The head is light and fizzes away quickly, it has a smooth creamy taste but is also light and fruity, it’s fantastic with cottage pie.
In other words a damn tasty drop and yes, I would say better than anything I’ve tasted from the supermarket.
For the second beer, we tasted Knops Musselburgh Broke from East Lothian in Scotland.
There was a hint of fruit, it was rich but not very bitter making it very easy to drink, lovely and zingy, quite refreshing, good with pork pie and pickles.
Again, quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted and certainly something quality, even to our common as muck taste buds.
Earlier I mentioned a gift box.
Now I think as gifts these boxes would be pretty nifty indeed so I dropped some money on a 1 month gift set to see exactly what the experience was like, after all the beer is good and I certainly enjoyed the whole experience.
Unfortunately it is a whole new experience of which I wouldn’t cast upon anyone.
So, we have adverts again, yes, feel free to scroll in on that one, but at least they’re on the outside of the box so although it still feels pretty cheap if you’re giving this in person you can remove them before hand.
There are a couple of “Refer a friend” £10 vouchers inside which I don’t know about you, just makes me feel like the person that brought this used them…really it’s all a bit of a chain letter extravaganza which doesn’t exactly reek of class.
There is also a welcome club booklet, the 1 month membership which is actually a real plastic card not a horrible piece of paper which is great, a bottle opener, that damn road trip book again and a magazine.
So, as I said earlier, the book is okay but just an advert essentially.
The magazine is made out of the stuff that was rejected from the recycled toilet paper factory, so bad you can see through it in fact.
Again it’s just another advert but the print is awful and to top it off the box isn’t big enough for it so they had to fold it.
Lastly there’s the bottle opener, nice touch, even though it’s really cheap.
Yep, it’s rusty. I contacted them and their customer support was again really good, replying within 10 hours and I had another sent through in the post, in fact I had two…one was again, rusty. Bizzare.
So yep, you have a box of adverts, yep, you have a one in 3 chance of a rusty bottle opener but surely the gift card is all good, I mean what could be wrong with it apart from it not working?
Okay, so it did work but it is a highly horrible experience, sure it’s easy, but it is a terrible present.
Let me tell you why.
When you put in your code a small box will appear at the top of the page with a timer.
You have 5 minutes.
You have 5 minutes to enter in your address and your card information.
Yep, even though this is apparently a gift, one that someone has spent a lot of money on, you are given 5 minutes to comply as it were and you have to put in your card details which they will then use to send you boxes each month.
Personally I don’t think it’s much of a gift when the person receiving it has to deal with pressurising sales tactics and using their own card just to receive it, again it also appears so cheap of you as the gift buyer.
As for the box itself, it came this time within a few days. Inside was of course more adverts but one in particular that won’t be emptied straight into the nearest dust bin.
Now that’s smart marketing, a advert, quite amusing too, on a beer mat which you just might have a use for when you crack open one of these babies.
Sure it’s not great quality by any stretch of the imagination but it’s a refreshing way to shove products down your throat.
The snack this time was Manomasa, tortillas with spirit. Strange, I was told you shouldn’t mix spirits and beer.
Despite their American look and their extremely annoying use of the word “Cilantro” instead of Coriander they are made in England.
They are also pretty darn delicious, if I saw these for sale at a reasonable price I would certainly pick up some more, a very enjoyable eat and tastes very good quality.
Strangely enough with this box I got my Ferment magazine but in the first I didn’t, I have enough toilet paper as it is but if you were interested you might be disappointed.
As for the beers, we have some really interesting ones in this lot.
An Indian Pale Ale which is advertised as great for summer…erm… considering the wintry gusts outside I would wait a little on that one.
The Celt Experience, an ale I certainly look forward to experiencing, very pretty too of course.
The Double Espresso….
Wait what? Yes, it is a beer blended with coffee, now this one certainly is a taste sensation, very interesting indeed!
Also at the end with have a pale ale that was made by a wine maker…hmmmm, we shall see how that worked out.
Next, a “California pale ale” made in Hackney, strangely this bottle was quite filthy around the bottom, I am saying nothing of Hackney………
Savour Dubbel, a Belgian style beer, La Loca Juana, which could meal camel pee as far as I know, since nothing on it is in English the jury is still out on that and lastly Loose Cannon India pale ale.
This set does seem to be a bit more summery that it should for December in all honesty but each one has a generous use by date left so you’re not getting anything on it’s last legs.
So what’s my verdict on Beer 52 as a whole?
All in all after exploring most of the facets of Beer 52’s service I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand their customer service is great, their beers are good quality, packaged well, the free snack is a nice touch and all in all it’s a nice thing to get through the post each month.
On the other hand, two weeks for a box is not good, you shouldn’t need to contact their customer services for each purchase, the 1 month gift set is a shambles, the rusty bottle openers are quite shocking, the adverts throughout are not great and the fact that you can’t stop your subscription, just delay it for up to 6 months is terrible.
I guess a fair portion of their custom is from poor people who delayed their next box for 6 months, then forgot about their account and had to fork out for another month.
There is no way to remove your card information or address either so you can’t stop the boxes short of deleting your account.
I heard lots of bad things about deleting your account from Beer52 and on their website it does say they will only accept un-subscription by calling them, another low blow to customers.
Writing a stern message to their customer services team via email worked for me though so they seem to have improved, though having your account at the mercy of whenever or if ever they decide to delete you account is awful.
There are more bad points than good for beer52 at the moment which is such a shame because their products are so good.
If you would like to get 8 interesting beers each month you might love it and it would be a great thing to order and share with your friends for the new year, though trying it for just one month is a hassling experience which could end up costing more than you bargained for.
Maybe in the months to come Beer52 can make their sales ethic less demonising and more user friendly, until then I can only recommend their service with severe reservation.