Buying Beer Online
Corona has changed the way we consume. Beer is no different. Bars are not open as long as before and many of us have opted to drink more beer at home.
The shops have remained open so we were always able to get our beer. However for those living outside of the bigger cities, like me, it has been harder. I am fortunate that I have an excellent beer store in the tiny 5000 people village I live in, that’s De Zwart in case you are interested. Without a car and not wanting to lug around heavy bags of bottles I decided to order beer online.
I randomly picked 7 different stores, all small and independent. Of the shops six were from the Netherlands, and I bought beer from the U.K. on one occasion.
At first I thought I would review all the stores separately. But I am sticking to some points that I noticed or have made me thing about the whole process. And let’s say some things might need to change if the independent stores want to fight Beerwulf (Heineken) or Hopt (InBev).
The stores I have bought beer from were Bierloods22 in Woerden, Sterk in Amsterdam, Little Beer Shop in Utrecht, Just In Beer in Groningen, Lekker Bier Bier Winkel in Friesland, Specialbierpakket in Leiden and from the United Kingdom Premier Hop.
Here are some of the things that caught my eye:
With the box of beer I ordered beer from Bierloods22 in Woerden came a postcard with a handwritten note. It might be a small thing but it means they took some time to do so. It also had my name on it so you know they wrote it on the spot. It makes you feel appreciated as a customer.
Another personal touch is letting your customer know that the delivery will be delayed. Premier Hop, the only UK store I bought from, did this. Not that I even cared one bit but it is nice to see they are thinking of you. The order came days sooner than a delivery from a Dutch store I placed on the same day. One of the cans I bought from them exploded. A combination of some carbonation problem I think and extremely hot temperatures. I let both them and the brewery know and within minutes the money was refunded. Classy.
In one other case I had to email what was happening with my order and it felt as if my email restarted the process again. Let’s just say I would order beer from Bierloods again and not from this store.
All orders came on time. With one order the store was waiting for one of the bottles to be delivered. Fine but I would have preferred knowing this in advance so that I had the option to either pick another beer. With smaller stores you have to take into account that if you place on order on Sunday it might take longer. Stores are not always open on Monday so they may only start making the orders on Tuesday. A good store should mention this on the website. Most did. The Speciaalbierpakket store in Leiden made the promise that any order before 21:00 would be delivered the next day. And it was. This was the second time I ordered beer on their website and I would happily do it again. And as I mentioned in the previous paragraph an order from the UK arrived here days before an order made on the same day at store in the Netherlands.
Have what you say you have
Too often it happened that I ordered beers online that were not available after all. I would get emails back either with the question of picking other beers and getting the difference back, or a list of beers I could choose from with the same value as the ones that were not available. Fine by me because I am not too picky. A CMR system that automatically subtracts both store buys and online buys and corrects this on the website can be a hassle and a investment. However it offers a lot in return. Better for the store, better for the customer but also for the suppliers. But I also admit it is a small thing and I was happy with the way the stores handled it.
I bought beers from stores in Friesland and Groningen and was very happy that they stocked beers from local breweries. Things that never will make it to the stores in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Even stores in Leiden tend to have very local things too that don’t make it over here. And buying local is more important than ever these days to keep the beer culture all over the country vibrant.
Not all webpages worked perfectly. In some cases after putting one bottle or can in the basket going back a page made you end up on the front page again. Annoying if you were only looking for beers from a certain country or in a certain category. One store was brazen enough to email me back saying ‘well it works on my phone’. Sure, but it should work on all platforms. The store will remain unnamed, but I won’t be buying beer there.
Some stores have been very good on social media showing what is new. Little Beer Shop and Just In Beer for example pepper Instagram with cool, self-made, shots of new beers. Keeping the name of the store in the minds of people and showing you constantly renew is only a good thing.
Better for brewers
Buying at smaller independent stores is also better for the brewers. Webshops owned by multinationals (Heineken is 100% owner of Beerwulf, InBev owns hopt.nl and more in the UK) often ask for a bigger discount than the smaller stores. So breweries might sell a bit more in bulk, but get less per bottle sold. By supporting the smaller stores you are also helping the brewers.
A good store should I think have the following: a good selection with plenty of local options. Good personal communication that makes you feel valued and a good working website. I will keep buying beer from most of these stores.
Stores I bought from, with one positive note
Bierloods22 in Woerden. Great selection and the personal touch is awesome
Little Beer Shop in Utrecht. Great and fast service and a good selection too, rotates.
Just In Beer. Happy to see a lot of local stuff and other cracking IPA’s.
Specialbierpakket winkel Leiden. Best website , fast service, great selection, fair prices.
Premier Hop. Fast in both service and delivery. UK beers not available here.
Specialbierwinkel. Lot of local Northern beer.
Sterk. Varied selection, some local Amsterdam beers and amazing selection.