Anyone that loves a good brew knows that they aren’t always easy to come by. This is especially the case when it comes to microbrews that can be very difficult to find. Often times many microbrews are only available at the brewery that created them and even then they are brewed in small batches. This makes finding a great microbrew or beer somewhat sad if it isn’t available in the general area that you live. For situations such as this often times shipping the beer is the only option for ensuring that there is a ready supply of your favorite beer regardless of where you are located. Unfortunately, beer shipping isn’t exactly the easiest process, but can be done with the right knowledge.
Understand the laws and policies
It is not illegal to ship alcohol within the country and in many cases internationally. It is however important that the person shipping the alcohol and the person receiving the alcohol are both of legal age. If both individuals meet that requirement then the shipping of alcohol is not illegal. Where the proble typically lies is that many carriers refuse to ship any type of liquid. This of course makes the process considerably more complicated than it would normally be. There are ways to get around this. Again, you aren’t breaking the law by doing so, you are simply ignoring the policy of one of the shipping companies.
Shipping companies do ship alcohol for companies that sell alcohol. This is an important thing to remember. The reason they are willing to ignore their own policies in these situations is because they know that the bottles are packaged properly and the risk of breaking bottles is reduced considerably. The major concern is the breakage of bottles and the leaking of liquids ultimately damaging other packages in the process. By refusing to deliver liquids this can be avoided altogether. However, if bottles are properly packaged then a consumer could ship liquid just as easily as a company can, as long as you avoid the details.
How to ship beer or alcohol
Now that you understand that it is by definition LEGAL to ship alcohol it is normally best to use an actual retailer in order to ship it. Whenever possible it is a good idea to simply find the brew that you are looking to ship and have that company do the shipping for you. The cost is typically in line with the shipping of other items and it will bypass any of the annoyances of shipping it yourself. This way it is done completely legitimately without having to ignore the policies of the shipping companies. The other benefit to this is that the items could be insured.
If you decide that you are simply going to ignore the policies of the shipping companies as many thousands do each and every year then it is important that the alcohol be packaged properly. In order to bypass the policies against shipping liquids the alcohol has to be packaged in a manner so that it isn’t obvious there is a liquid inside of it. It is also a good idea to ensure it is packaged so well that it doesn’t break. So really the two go hand in hand.
Most of the time a shipping company will simply ignore the fact that there is a liquid if they can tell it has been properly prepared. The best way to do this is to place the beer or alcohol inside of a sealable bag. Then place that bag inside of a cooler. If there are numerous bottles, place all of them inside of individual bags and place them in the cooler. The cooler will not only protect the alcohol but when combined with the plastic should keep any alcohol that may leak from seaping out of the packaging.
Inside of the cooler each bottle should be wrapped with bubble wrap, wrapped with newspaper, and then taped so that it doesn’t come undone. The cooler should then be filled with packaging peanuts or more bubble wrap. This method will allow the liquid to be transported without making any sound that can be heard form the outside as the noise of the peanuts will typically drown out the sound of the liquid itself. Then make certain that the cooler, normally a styrofoam cooler is good enough is heavily taped or even sealed to keep it from leaking should an accident occur. Place the cooler inside of a box that is slightly bigger and fill in any gaps between the cooler and the box with more peanuts.
The package is now ready to ship. Normally when shipping a package they aren’t going to ask what the contents are unless it is insured. Since it is against their policy to take liquid it is a good idea to not insure it. However, it is an even better idea to have a signer over 21 sign for the package. Keep in mind that if you don’t select to have someone over 21 sign for the package and they open and consume it that you are liable for it. For this reason it is a good idea to cover yourself at this point.
If you are asked what is in the package, just be vague by stating that it is a birthday gift or glassware. Normally that is more than enough to get it through the system.
If you really want to ship alcohol it is advisable to just ship it through a licensed company. It is not only going to be cheaper than attempting to obtain all the packaging materials and shipping it yourself, it is going to be much easier. By ignoring the policies of the shipping companies it is unlikely that you will get in any type of trouble unless you fail to have a signer over the age of 21. Ultimately it is just good practice to not attempt to bypass the system and just work within the rules of the company by shipping through a licensed shipper. The savings in time will make it well worth it.