How Not To Ship Beer

Michael Donato, October 28, 2014

This is a cautionary tale.


Shipping beer is getting more and more popular, but it’s one thing to trade a couple of bottles or a six-pack, as I’d done once or twice, and quite another to send a 25lb care package across the country. 


The delivery guys don’t care about your package, and likely because of the hush-hush nature of shipping alcohol, don’t even know it’s that delicate. It will probably get treated roughly, and you’d better pack it to be able to take it.


I didn’t.  I thought I did, but then I got the dreaded notice in the tracking details:


Your package was damaged in transit. We will notify the sender with details. / Damaged merchandise discarded, balance being returned. UPS will notify the sender with the details.


Ouch. I wanted to cry after reading that. The five stages of grief as it pertains to beer loss. Next was bargaining, where I desperately hoped it was just one bottle or can that popped and the package would come back mostly intact. They couldn’t have ALL gotten destroyed right? I thought I packed it better than that! I even had air-cushions in there!


When the guy at Staples handed me my return package and it was a different box and half the size, and weighed almost nothing, my worst fears were confirmed. 

As it turns out, three of the roughly 20 beers survived. One of the two Bell’s Two-Hearted Ales, and the singular bottles of Founder’s Dark Penance and Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby. Each beer was individually wrapped with thick paper and taped up, perhaps how I should’ve done them originally. The can was pretty scuffed up. My best guess is that the bottom fell out of the package. I thought I’d secured that, and I wouldn’t have thought anyone would’ve carried it from the sides, but it’s the best answer that fits the facts. I’m just disappointed all damage reports don’t come with super slo-mo video of the accident. 


Now I wait to hear from UPS about filing a damage claim and if I can reclaim any of the value of the package. There were no whales in this package headed to California from New Jersey, but there were plenty of good beers from Sixpoint’s Sensi Harvest (1.92 BAR, 112 Style+) to Maine’s Weez (3.75, 118) to my own MAD Brewery’s Sophie’s Sweet Stout (Unranked). 


Perhaps my friend makes out in the end though, the trip to the store to replace the beer netted Founder’s Harvest Ale (7.39, 122) and Breakfast Stout (9.52, 119), and Maine Beer Company’s Lunch (11.21, 130).


Now where’s my Pliny in return? 


Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he's grieving for his lost beer, spilt somewhere along a midwestern highway.