How we pick our beers
Matt | 09 Mar 2015
We’re often asked how we pick the beers that end up in your boxes. Whilst it’s a lot of fun, there isn’t a simple answer, so we thought we’d open our buying process up to you, worts and all.
There are a lot of breweries (over 2000 in the UK) and a lot of amazing beers to get through. Having an obsession with beer since I was far too young means that I know a lot them. But I could never know close to all of them. Industry friends, the internet, a vibrant blogging community and social media have all made discovering new beers a lot easier. Nowadays breweries often approach us, which wasn’t the case when we first started. Then there is you lot on the ground, telling us about breweries where you live. We’ve featured tonnes of beers recommended by our subscribers so keep them coming.
We never send you a beer without trying it first. If it’s a new brewer/beer we get hold of a sample and usually we pay for it. Then there isn’t any funny business or awkwardness if we decide not to feature it.
This is much more difficult than it sounds. The first thing to consider is whether it’s “technically” any good. Has it been well made by people who know what they’re doing. We get sent a surprisingly large amount of beers (particularly by new breweries) that isn’t well brewed or is in bad nick.
Then we consider whether or not we like it. It’s important we keep those two decisions separate. Beer is so subjective and not everyone likes every kind of beer (more on that later) so we have to be open-minded, just like our customers.
New VS Old
We have one elderly subscriber who tells his son what he thinks of each beer, who in turn emails us his dad’s thoughts. It’s fair to say he prefers the more traditional beers we feature. We have a new generation of beer drinkers who read from the craft gospel and want to try more experimental beers, preferably before anyone else has even heard of them. For us, good beer is good beer. From classics through to beers and beer styles a lot of people have never tried before. We cover the lot, which makes us pretty unique.
All of the beers in our subscription boxes cost you £3 a pop. That means we can’t pay over a certain price for the beers we buy. It rules some beers that we’d like to feature out (although we’ve started putting these in our non-subscription monthly boxes). Sometimes we might feature a more mainstream beer (which usually means a lower price) so that we can feature something more outlandish and expensive next week.
We’re proud to pay a fair price for the beers we feature. As soon as we start screwing brewers in to the ground and holding them to ransom to get a better price, we’re defeating the object of BeerBods; which is to support and champion the little guy.
We’ve been offered beer for free and turned it down. The breweries that can afford to give it away don’t need us.
There is no doubt that to date we’ve favoured British beers. About 90% of the beers we’ve featured are from the UK. We throw in the occasional beauty from overseas and expect to do more of that in future, due to popular demand.
Until now we’ve aimed for one in four bottles being 330ml. That’s about to change to one in three or maybe even one in two. That reflects what is happening in British brewing. Smaller measures. Bigger ABV. Bigger flavour. That’s the future.
BeerBods is as much about people as it is about beer. If we can’t buy in to the people making it and, more importantly, why they’re making it, their beer won’t be in your boxes.
We’re sometimes asked if we’d consider letting our customers pick which styles of beer they get in their boxes. That’s not for us. We feel it’s really important to open up our customers eyes to beer styles they wouldn’t normally buy. That’s what drinking better beer is about; challenging yourself.
Getting a good mix of styles isn’t always easy though. Too many pale ales or stouts in a row and we get people banging on our door, which is fair enough. Getting beers to correspond with British weather is almost impossible. But we try.
A beer you won't like guaranteed
BeerBods is about discovery. It’s about adventure. It’s about learning. And it’s about drinking new beers with new friends. We’ve got lots of different kinds of drinkers. Experts and novices. Young and old. That’s what a real community is… diverse. They all want different things, but are open to new stuff too. They are the bods. They are the ones that are drinking better beer, which with your help, we’ll keep on trying to find.