Being in Wisconsin, one would think there is no need to seek out beer from other parts of the country. After all, we do have some excellent breweries in our home state AND we have some awesome neighbor states (IA, IL, MI, & MN) that also are well versed in the craft beer game. Quite honestly, one could easily settle for what is available and be just fine, none the wiser.
Enter in the internet and now everything has changed. Sites such as Beer Advocate and Rate Beer have opened the stops by creating ratings for the best beers in the country. As a result it has created demand to taste what you normally can’t have.
Where there is demand, there is a business opportunity. Online sites such as Craftcity, Craftshack, Craftbeerkings, and Tavour allow a consumer to purchase beer from out of state at a reasonable price plus shipping costs. Such models have opened otherwise inaccessible beer to fanatics around the country. Couple that with beer trading and you have a micro beer economy springing up in a place where you cannot even drink beer!
Many of the online sites have their own niche about what makes them stand out vs one another. From my experiences I would say the following tends to be accurate Craftbeerkings – Reasonable pricing, occasional whales and slightly lower shipping costs; Craftshack – Great rotating selection, more expensive shipping (though recently they have moved to flat rate of $19.99 for 12 bottle minimum); Craftcity – Huge selection including some vintage already cellared options, shipping can get expensive.
Ultimately I will say that Tavour based out of Seattle, WA makes it the easiest and they also have the lowest cost shipping ($14.99 flat rate). While you lose the purchase on demand type ability with Tavour, you gain ease of use, high quality, and a fresh product. Usually twice daily, 10a & 4p CST M-F and 11a-2p Sat & Sun, you will receive and email (or an alert on your phone if you use the iOS/Android app) outlining the two selections for the day. I highly recommend the app or you will probably miss out on the beer you really want due to the delay in responses (even though their communication is really good). If they are your style, click get it, make the selection on quantity, and you are done. Your crate will then ship at a predesignated time (usually you have 3-4 shipping time options). This is, perhaps for some, the main drawback in that you have to wait. I would argue that it actually is a good thing. Here is why. On the other sites you need to amass an order size usually well in excess of $100 to make the cost of shipping worth it. With Tavour, a 12 bottle order still is a lower cost per bottle than Craftshack at just $1.24 per bottle.
The other primary advantage with Tavour is that you are able to space your purchases out over the course of a month. That is a good thing for those who are budget conscious! Rather than dumping your monthly budget on one order at one time from the other sites and a big majority of that eaten up in shipping, you get spaced out purchases and more beer for your $. Lastly, because Tavour makes it so easy, know what you want to hold out for over a month (Stouts, Hazy IPAs, Barrel aged, etc). If you are not budget minded it can be dangerous (because you may overspend your budget) as well.
In closing, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. They are all good in their own way. If you like to try things for yourself, give it a go with any of them and let me know what you think. If you would rather use my experience for your gain, sign up with Tavour and give it a shot.