Can I send beer through mail?
June 14, 2004 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Can I send a couple bottles of beer in the mail? Are there problems with potential carbonationexplosion? "I'll take my answer offline" --back tomorrow morning.
posted by Shane to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
If you're in the US, it's technically illegal to send alcohol via the postal service. But you can pretty much just pack it like anything fragile and it will get there intact.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2004

A friend just told me a story about bringing beer back from Ontario to Vancouver by plane. Four of the 12 bottles burst in his luggage. He believes it was due to the pressure because the bottles were not broken. I think those bottles couldn't have been properly sealed but I'm no expert.

His clothes were soaked but he we was more upset about losing the beer which can only be found in Ontario.
posted by btwillig at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2004

Send "yeast samples" via UPS ground in a well packed box.
posted by togdon at 2:42 PM on June 14, 2004

Some answers can be found here:

You should probably check if it's legal to ship alcohol by mail in the United States though.
posted by tomorama at 2:48 PM on June 14, 2004

I don't know about the legality, but I think in terms of "exploding" you're probably okay. My partner's a homebrewer and he recently sent off half a dozen bottles via domestic mail (in Australia) to a competition. They arrived fine. Granted, he sent them in plastic bottles with screw caps, but I think domestic shipping would probably be all right, regardless.

In terms of flying, I've carried beer on international flights in my hand luggage. It's been fine.
posted by web-goddess at 4:42 PM on June 14, 2004

On exploding in flight - they should be fine, even if checked. I've checked at least three full bottles of rum on separate international flights, and they've all come through okay.

The USPS will ask you if you are shipping anything fragile (e.g., glass) or liquid (e.g., beer) or hazardous (e.g., alcohol). It's clearly against their policies, so you're doing it at your own risk, and any damages caused would come back to haunt you.
posted by whatzit at 5:34 PM on June 14, 2004

As I mentioned in the previous thread, you can assume a very large risk this way, especially if the package ever travels by air. Call the The International Compliance Centre if you have any doubts. Their US number is 1-888-442-9628. They're not the government and they won't report you to anyone.

At the bare minimum, be sure that your package can survive at least a 3' (1m) drop. Ten feet is better. You don't want to know what the USPS or FedEx can do to a package.
posted by bonehead at 6:26 PM on June 14, 2004

A friend sent me a few bottles of hombrew and home made beef jerky via US Mail. I received a nastygram from the USPS, reminding me that it was illegal to ship alcohol, and a beer saturated-now-unreadable letter from the friend, leaving me completely puzzled. My friend called a few weeks later to ask how the beer was, which was how I found out what was in the package. So, USPS no. I have sent beer via UPS.
posted by plinth at 7:05 PM on June 14, 2004

I just know Ufez is checking out this thread.

Back in the day I used to work for a popular microbrewery, and we got constant requests to ship beers to those locales (both domestic and international) that we did not distribute to. Like five to ten requests a day, every day. We did not do it ourselves, but referred people to a local delicatessan and specialty shop which made a killing off of shipping Seattle brews all over the place. In the last few years at some point the law changed and they got out of that business and when I looked into shipping it myself recently I found nothing but discouraging news.
posted by vito90 at 11:45 PM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. Some good anecdotes here too!

I give up. My problem is further complicated by the beer being "natural," without preservatives. It should be kept cold, just in case.
posted by Shane at 6:41 AM on June 15, 2004

Shane, pack it in some ice. Use a cheap throw away igloo like cooler($1.99) which you could seal up with tape. Then wrap it in brown paper. I wouldn't put too much ice in it and pack it with cardboard. Ship UPS blue, 2nd day.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:19 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: Great idea, thomcatspike! I could even use dry ice! Believe it or not, I once managed a coffeeshop and had to send a gallon of iced cafe mocha to Tiger Wood's manager Hughes Norton (International Mgt Group "IMG") in Atlanta, GA, 'cuz he was at a tournament and couldn't live without it. Dry ice it was!
posted by Shane at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: BTW, the mocha was for Hughes, not Tiger. And I had fun with the remaining dry ice (naturally!), walking down the street with a frothing cup and observing people's reactions, etc. Ah, the Mr Wizard fun you can have w/ dry ice! But, OW! --that stuff burns!
posted by Shane at 11:40 AM on June 15, 2004

Great addition shane, dry ice, CO2 in solid form is great at carbonating a punch bowl with the added visual effect. Good luck!
posted by thomcatspike at 1:40 PM on June 15, 2004

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