Beer52, based in Edinburgh, offer a monthly subscription service delivering a curated box of beers to your door along with a complementary snack and a magazine packed full of beer-fuelled content.
We recently caught up with Co-Founder, Fraser Doherty, to find out more about Beer52, how he got involved, and what it’s like running the world’s most popular beer club.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Beer52? How did the idea come about?
Our founder, James Brown, got the idea to start the club after going on a road trip with his Dad around Europe. They stopped off at breweries in places like Belgium and that’s where James discovered his love of craft beer. He got back to Scotland and figured that it would be great to go to a new country each month, find the best beers and send them out to our members. Beer52 was born!
Were you involved from the start? Were you big into beer at that time?
I met James just as he was starting the business and instantly saw his passion for craft beer and the idea of starting a great beer club really appealed to me. I got on board with working on the idea with him and we soon had our first case of beers ready and our first few subscribers.
Neither of us were beer experts but we studied for Cicerone exams and visited great craft beer festivals like Indy Man, London Craft Beer Festival, Craft Beer Rising and others to get our heads around what was already an exciting scene with many great breweries to discover.
How many subscribers do you have now, and what do you attribute your success to so far?
We’re now the most popular craft beer club anywhere in the world, with tens of thousands of members. I think the success of the club is a testament to the great beers we’ve been able to source, the way we’re able to take our members on an adventure on the pages of our magazine, Ferment, and the customer service that our team give.
Can you tell us a little more about Ferment? We were really impressed by the quality of the content!
Thank you! 🙂 Creating a magazine is a labour of love and we have a fantastic team here who write, photograph and edit 100-pages of great content every month. We want to be able to champion the breweries that we feature by telling their stories. We also explore the drinking culture, bars and restaurants of the countries that we visit each month on our adventure to find the beers for the box.
Why do you think Beer52 resonates so well with your subscribers?
I think what our members love is a chance to get beers delivered to their door each month that perhaps they’ve never seen before. A lot of what we import from overseas has never been in the UK before. We also do a lot of exclusive collaboration beers for the club, which has been a real hit.
Can you tell us a little more about the Beer52 exclusive beers and collaborations?
We’ve been really excited to bring a number of unique concepts to our members – being a club means that we can do certain thing that, for example, a normal bottle shop or a brewery couldn’t do.
We created one set of beers called ‘The Elements Project’, for example. We brewed six sets of beers – in each pair, the recipe was exactly the same but we just changed one of the key components – either the hop, malt or yeast. Our members loved learning how much just changing the yeast, for instance, created a totally different flavour profile.
You offer light boxes – do many people choose this option? We love dark beers!
Most people opt for a selection of both light and dark beers, we usually include two or three darker beers in those boxes. But, of course, there are some people who’re just not into dark beers so they can chose to get light and hoppy ones instead!
Can you tell us some of your favourite breweries that have featured to-date?
We’ve featured so many great breweries it’s almost unfair to mention any! Some recent highlights have included To-Ol, Northern Monk, Two Tribes, Shindigger and White Hag.
What are your own personal favourite beers?
I’m a big fan of saisons from the likes of Partizan, hoppy pales from Dry & Bitter and probably one of my highlight beers from the past year has been Prenzlauerberg, a raspberry berliner weisse from Pohjala.
What’ve been your highlights along the way with Beer52 so far?
I guess the great thing about what we do is exploring a new country every month – as a team we’ve covered a pretty unbelievable list of beer destinations. My own personal highlights include a road trip around California visiting Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Stone and many other great breweries.
Of course, it’s also a pleasure to share all the stories from these trips by writing about them on the pages of the magazine.
How do you go about curating the boxes? What’s the process behind picking the beers for each month?
We get literally hundreds of different samples every month from breweries across the globe. Our beer buyer, Callum, tastes them all and everyone in the team also gets a chance to vote on what we should put in the box.
Everyone’s palates are different so it’s important that we try to create a selection of beers with a wide appeal. We also make sure to add in at least one beer in each box that will hopefully push people’s boundaries a little – maybe by exposing them to a new style or by being barrel-aged, for example.
Any exciting beers or themed boxes coming up in the near future?
We’ve wanted to do a box about Germany for a long time and have finally got the chance to explore the country’s historic beers, but also their up-and-coming craft brewers in next month’s Oktoberfest edition. Prost!
If you’re wondering if Beer52’s subscription service is worth it, check out our review here.