Beer 52 is a monthly beer delivery service providing direct access to a preselected range of beer. I was kindly offered a trial "box of brew" by Brian, which I was happy to accept with the proviso I'd write as I found. The box arrived last week and here are my thoughts.
Its certainly well packaged with a double thickness cardboard box and plenty of polystyrene. It also comes with a stylish leaflet, which I'll return to later.
I was pleased to find a beer from Grain in the selection (which I've heard good things about from local Nate) and old favourites Oakham Citra and Top Out Staple. It was decent, a sessionable lager like beer with some more fruity hop notes...a hybrid blonde beer if you will without the sweetness that usually accompanies these.
Barney's Good Ordinary Pale does exactly what's expected of it, easy drinking, non-thinking bitter which is easy to finish.
Tickety Brew Dubbel tastes exactly as a dubbel should, with heavy sugars, fruity esters on the nose and plenty of stewed fruit and higher alcohols - exactly what I dislike about a dubbel, but if you do like dubbels then go for it!
I'm not sure why there are two from Point...they appear to feature fairly regularly in the boxes, which disappoints me as they are available in major supermarkets and from my past experience haven't been particularly flavourful (read: some were downright nasty). I was pleasantly surprised by the black ale which had the hallmarks of a decent dunkel (rather than the schwarzbeer aimed for) but the "Belgian Wit" despite looking the part tasted of raw grain steeping water and went down the sink.
Returning to the overall concept then I think it works well. There's tonnes of information on the leaflet, alongside succinct tasting notes and the brewery ethos, there's suggested glassware, recipe and even IBU. Plenty of information for even your more avid beer geek. Well packaged and arriving quickly it certainly provides a good service - but is it good value for money? At £3 per bottle delivered its perhaps 30% more expensive than buying the equivalent bottles at your local bottleshop, but perhaps you wouldn't find all of them. I found it quite enjoyable ot knowing what would turn up at my door, but this may frustrate others.
I certainly support their ambition to promote microbreweries What I did not enjoy was receiving mediocre beer but perhaps that's the luck of the draw. I would advise Brew52 to not feature Point brewing quite as regularly though. There's certainly plenty of more interesting beers listed on the website!
So its a service which should appeal to those new to beer and more seasoned alike. I've certainly found a few breweries that I'll be returning to. If anyone else fancies giving it a go then there's an offercode I've been given for £10 off a box. For £1.75 a bottle its surely worth a punt? Excellent value especially to Northern Ireland. Go to beer52.com and enter the following voucher code at the checkout stage.
If you do try it out, please let me know how you find it. As for myself I may use the service every now and again if I fancy a surprise, but I think I still prefer being able to pick exactly what I'm going to get and filling up my box with 24 bottles to minimise postage cost per bottle.
Thanks to Brian and James for sending me this box to try.