My experience with Beerjobber

by Billy Broas

Review of beer jobberSome of you might have heard about an interesting new service for buying beer online called Beerjobber.

I spoke on the phone with Beerjobber founder Sean Nevins to get more info on how the whole thing works.

BeerJobber has a unique business model. They have two main goals:

  • Give you access to beers not available in your area
  • Get those beers to you fast and fresh

You know that I have a lot of experience with beer of the month clubs, so they were my reference point when trying to understand Beerjobber.

As Sean told me, here is the big difference: BeerJobber actually ships directly from the brewery to your house. But wait – what about the 3-tier system you ask? They have a clever way to solve that.

Beerjobber act as the middleman between the brewery and the shipper (UPS or FedEX). So Beerjobber’s people are the ones that are actually handing the beer off to the shipper at the brewery (Not sure about the details on this). Done this way, they can stay legal and avoid having to ship the beer to a warehouse. That’s where the fresh part comes in.

They can’t ship everywhere due to legal reasons, but there is a handy little tool on the website where you put in your zip code and it lets you know if you can get the beer or not.

Price is always a concern with shipping beer through the mail. Here are three randomly selected packages along with their six-pack equivalent price:

  • Heretic Variety Case; 12 – 22 oz. bottles: $79.48 + $19.95 S&H = $99.43 (SPE $27.12)
  • Mad River Jamaica Red Ale; 24 – 12 oz. bottles: $52.70 + $19.95 S&H = $72.65 (SPE $18.16)
  • Left Coast Board Walk Saison; 12 – 22 oz. bottles: $83.70 + $19.95 S&H = $103.65 (SPE $28.27)

So the prices aren’t cheap, but there is value in getting something you can’t normally get and having it delivered fresh from the brewery right to your door.

I knew I had to try the service for myself.

My Experience

One of the main concerns I’ve heard about Beerjobber is “Who wants a whole case of the same beer?” Promiscuous craft beer drinkers we are.

I had the same concern, and to solve it I did two things:

  1. Ordered one of the many variety cases to diversify the beer
  2. Split the order with a buddy
If you’re a member of the site you will get occasional promotions. This is what I did to snag the Heretic case listed above for $60 shipped. I then split the case with The Beertographer and wound up with 6 bombers (2 of three different beers) for $30, or $5 per bomber.
The box of beer sent from BeerJobber.com

Great packaging. These bottles won't break

Bottles of Heretic beer

My order: Heretic's Evil Cousin, Evil Twin, and Shallow Grave

Overall I was really happy with the entire experience. We don’t get Heretic around here and I was excited to try their beers (They were excellent by the way. Nice job Jamil).

I invite you to at least make an account and look through the Beerjobber inventory. There is no monthly subscription so you can take your time until something you really want pops up and maybe even snag a deal. In my opinion, having the choice of what to buy is the biggest benefit.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried BeerJobber and what your experience was like.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin Smith June 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

We placed a link to you review here: https://www.facebook.com/USNationalBeerDay

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Billy Broas June 14, 2012 at 9:12 am

Thanks Justin!

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PA_Jeff June 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Billy – I just had the same experience. I signed up when I first heard about it (I think when they first opened), but hadn’t tried it. I grabbed the Heretic variety case when it went on sale, and split it with someone in my homebrew club. $5/bomber delivered to my door – that’s less than they would have been in a store, *if* it was even possible to get them around me (which, in PA, it isn’t).

But, to be honest, I *only* see myself using their service when killer deals like that one come along. $20 shipping on top of an already-pricey case price makes most of their offerings out of my price range, or at least throws the price::curiousity ratio out-of-whack…

I was glad to get the chance to try Heretic’s offerings though, and maybe some other beer will come along that I’ll “just have to try” (haven’t found pliney the elder available on there yet). It’s an interesting service, and I had no complaints at all about their delivery. It came reasonably quickly, and packaged well, just like you pictured… Plus, they don’t flood you with ads/spam.

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Billy Broas June 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

That’s pretty funny we did the exact same thing. Great minds….

I know what you mean. I’ll probably order again but am going to be picky about it, so either a deal or a brewery/beer that I really want to try. Splitting really is the way to go too.I could do one expensive bottle of something great from time to time but when you buy a whole case it gets really expensive.

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Sean June 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Billy,

Thanks for sharing. I live in one of those “can’t ship to me” states, so I appreciate reading your comments.

Sean

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Billy Broas June 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

That sucks Sean. I admit I was a little nervous when I typed in my address and the system was “thinking”. The crazy thing about beer laws is that I can’t get shipments from breweries in Colorado. Not that I need to order online, but still…

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Cesar Gonzalez June 14, 2012 at 2:58 am

I have really enjoyed Beerjobber since I live in a small town with poor beer selection. I’ve bought 8 cases already! I even shipped 1 to a friend I was about to visit and we shared it during my stay. The selection is large and service is fast. Agree it’s a bit pricey for some beers but you’re paying for the service. The specials and variety packs are the way to go. Oh yeah…and you have to be home to sign for the package or have UPS hold it at a pickup location. I live close to work and my UPS guy comes at lunch time so it works out OK for me.

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Billy Broas June 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

Hey Cesar, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you are the perfect customer for Beerjobber! I could certainly see why if 1) You have a poor local selection and 2) Your state can be shipped to, then it’s definitely a good idea. Oh and good call about having to sign for the package. I forgot to mention that.

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Brewforia July 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I’d be very interested to know more about how they have this structured. The way its explained in the post doesn’t really make sense. Saying they are a go between between brewer and consumer doesn’t address the restrictions of the 3 tier system. For the system to work as you describe it they would have to be licensed in every state they have a brewery relationship with since they couldn’t buy from a brewery and resell it unless they had a retail license in each state.

If they are working as a third party marketing firm providing web support and sales services for a percentage of the sale they could do that but there are numerous states that prohibit that as well. For example, CA does not permit sales of alcohol via 3rd party marketing firms so beers like Heretic wouldn’t be available for sale direct from the brewery through a service like this to a consumer in another state.

Last thing is the states that don’t permit self distribution or shipping. Several states don’t let brewers self distribute and/or sell and ship online so those brewers using the service could be in violation of state code and could risk penalty.

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer but there are a lot of companies out there that are operating outside the boundaries of the law and may not realize it. I’m not suggesting that beer jobber is one of them but I would be very interested to know how they have this structured.

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Billy Broas July 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hey Rick, I would like to know the details of this as well. As you read, I wasn’t able to get full clarification on exactly how the business is structured.

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Gretchen August 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Why doesn’t CA allow a third party to help facilitate sales? In a wine state that seems odd. Consider Americanwinery.com, which works with ShipCompliant to do the paperwork part but basically functions as a third-party marketing platform for small American wineries to sell their wine. How is beer different?

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Nevs November 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Because the transfer of money happens with beerjobber the brewery is not self distributing. Its drop shipping. This is a different transaction. Much like amazon you only need a retail licence and/or a wholesale licence.

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Roger January 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

Unfortunately, as of yesterday, Beerjobber.com is closed. Perhaps some of the points that people mentioned above caught up with them. I used their service twice and was very happy with the choices. I have an open request out with them right now, so hope it gets filled, but could understand if they were not able to do it. I hope they come back.

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Gretchen January 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

Sad. I wonder if the business model was unsustainable or if legalities caught up with them.

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pa_jeff January 16, 2013 at 11:54 am

Yeah, that’s a shame. I wonder if they even saw it coming, as I’ve gotten emails from them VERY recently. They do mention (on their website notice) that they hope to be able to continue in the future, so we shall see.

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Billy Broas January 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Wow. Thanks for the heads up. Like Jeff, I’ve gotten emails, tweets, etc very recently which is odd because when a company goes under they usually go silent for a while. That leads me to believe it might be a legal issue, but I don’t want to speculate too much. Hopefully we learn more about this.

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BJ January 20, 2013 at 7:06 am

From someone in the craft beer industry and a resident of PA (but with no inside knowledge of the company) – I would say that beerjobber’s closure is probably a combination of both legal and financial issues. First of all with their model you have to sell a LOT of beer to make any money. Beerjobber recently started advertising on ratebeer.com and beerpulse.com. While I realize that reatebeer.com may not have the most expensive advertising, beerjobber took so much real estate on ratebeer pages – that I though beerjobber bought ratebeer….long story short – that couldn’t have been too cheap for that advertising….multiply that by their other advertising initiatives and it starts to add up.

Let’s not forget their sponsorship of GABF – that had to be expensive.

On the legal end – they had to be pushing the boundaries if not stepping on them….if I’m not mistaken, they claim that beerjobber reps handle ALL beer shipments…essentially they receive from the breweries loading dock before it’s shipped by beerjobber to you. I call BS! Maybe a courier that works on their behalf picks it up and takes it to a designated shippers location. Otherwise they would have “employees” waiting and waiting for orders for product from the lesser known breweries that are far and few between. Doesn’t seem to financially sound to have your own employees in each region “waiting” to pickup orders to then drop off at UPS, FedEx or USPS.

Secondly, and more importantly in states like PA where only ONE (1) importing wholesaler has the designated RIGHTS to sell into a specific geographic territory (in PA it’s by county), beerjobber would be infringing on the rights of the wholesalers…as would the breweries that work with beerjobber who assigned the territory rights (in most cases long before beerjobber existed).

These are just opinions bases on my own research – I certainly could be wrong – but with beerjobbers current situation – I may actually be right!

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Brewforia January 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

BJ, I think beerjobber was over stating the process on their site when they suggested that orders were picked up, packaged and shipped by their reps. That would not be logistically feasible. I have no first hand knowledge of how their process was designed but I’m under the impression that the beer was being packaged and shipped by the breweries but picked up by UPS or FedEx under beerjobbers account. I’m basing this on a solicitation that they sent out to breweries where they offer to send them the boxes for free to package the beer for shipment when they sign up.

As someone who owns a company that ships beer I can tell the margins are quite thin and the cost are considerably higher than consumers imagine. If you’re ever curious to see what the real cost of shipping is conduct a little experiment. Got to either FedEx or UPS’s sites and get a quote to ship a package weighing 14 lbs (average weight of a six pack of 12 oz bottles plus packaging). Tack on $4 for collection of a signature at time of delivery and you’ll see that online shippers aren’t making any money off of shipping. In most cases they are having to subsidize shipping with higher prices on the beer. Rule of thumb is expect shipping to be about the same price as the beer unless you’re either ordering higher priced specialty beers or more than 48 bottles of 12 oz bottles. Don’t believe anyone that says they’re giving you free shipping. That’s just not possible.

I could totally understand how financially difficult it could be to operate as beerjobber did since I don’t believe they had a retail storefront. They weren’t having to purchase and warehouse inventory which helped but they also weren’t able to sell anywhere else to maintain steady cash flow. I had the pleasure of talking with Sean at beerjobber once, very nice guy. I hope they figure out a solution to whatever problem they have and manage to get the site back up and running.

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Dan July 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I have read a few blogs on here and it just gets more and more confusing.

So BeerJobber.com was (or thought they were) compliant (or skirting) the 3 tier because they were picking up the beer from the brewer and that mean what exactly? Wouldn’t they still need some sort of license? No warehouse makes it sound like they did not have a distributor license. So what did they have?

Brewforia how does your business work then? You have a retail location, a distributor license and some sort of retail license that allows you to sell online? Do you need licenses in every state you ship to too?

How do beer of the month clubs work exactly? I can’t imagine they are all licensed up.

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bierfesten January 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Quite simply the legal side of their business caught up with then, plus it sounds quite unsustainable in the long term. Not every craftbeer co is going to survive. As a one off people are curious but price ultimately dictates.

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