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icedmetal
08-23-2010, 11:43 AM
How have past GotMead group brews handled shipping? Any suggestions?

I've been looking at the shipping costs on UPS' website for 2lbs, which is roughly the weight of a full 750mL bottle, and well, ouch. If each group brew member is shipping to every other member, we're all going to spend more on shipping than on the mead itself! Not good. Would we be better off with two 350mL bottles, or just 1 350mL bottle, or even beer bottles instead? I've heard everybody shipping to a semi-central location then having them ship out from there is the best way to cut down the overall cost... and just based on cost alone I'm thinking we'll have to go with the smallest and probably lightest (beer) bottles.

Any feedback is appreciated.

capoeirista13
08-23-2010, 12:43 PM
PMing the people who participated in past group brews might be a good idea.

d.j.patterson
08-23-2010, 12:48 PM
Good Lord! I just did the math on this myself. 13 other participants x 12.55/box to ship coast to coast = $163.15 :eek:

After shipping, this would certainly be my most expensive batch to date.

Edit: The last group brew appears to have only had 6 participants, so this may not have been such an issue.

AToE
08-23-2010, 01:18 PM
Don't forget some of us are over the boarder too. I'll have to look into the $, I might have to bow out of this one for the sake of my own wallet as well as everyone else's. It's not fun paying customs.

dacj501
08-23-2010, 01:21 PM
How many of us are there officially? I think we should send 1 shipment of X number of bottles to one person, who will then jumble up all the boxes and repackage and ship back to the originator...I bet there's a return service maybe even...

I'll be glad to volunteer to be the central guy, even though I'm not all that central, but I'm willing to do the packing/unpacking...

ETA: Also, I vote for 750 ml bottles

BBBF
08-23-2010, 01:31 PM
In our last group brew, we shipped our bottles separately. We had originally discussed everyone using the same sized bottles (standard beer) and sending all their bottles to one location, with the return postage paid for. Then their box would be filled with their share of everyone else's batches and sent back to them.

It sounded like a solid plan, but nobody stuck to it. Some people insisted on using 750mL bottles. Some people were too concerened with the single point of failure. We went with individual shipping and it was a bit expensive. It was about the cost of a bottle of wine at a store, which wasn't too bad.

When I looked at how many people are taking place in the chocolate group and read that single bottle shipping was still the preferred method, I stayed away. The meads I got from the Lime Group we're fantasitc and I'm glad I participated in the group brew. I'm sure the chocolate meads will be the same, but I just could not get past $150+ spent on shipping.

My $0.02, try to work out a single shipping point.

Chevette Girl
08-23-2010, 01:32 PM
I've got friends with a US storage box so I'm going to ask them to check at Customs if I could drop it off over the border and ship it out from there. And if shipping two at once is less expensive than one at a time maybe AToE and I can combine our problems... I'll be seeing my friends tomorrow, they're international arms dealers (swords and knives) :) so they're pretty familiar with the border folks.

capoeirista13
08-23-2010, 01:37 PM
I have an idea, though I'm not sure everyone will be up to it.

First of all let me mention that although a lot of people (13) said they were interested in the original thread I think that significantly fewer people have actually committed by replying back with their brewlogs and brews/intentions to start brewlogs and brews soon. So it may not actually be as much as we are all thinking.

Second, if it does end up being expensive because of a large number of people, we could do a lottery. What I mean by this is that we would essentially pick x names out of a hat for each person to ship to and recieve from so that each person may be sending and recieving 5 bottles as opposed to 13.

icedmetal
08-23-2010, 01:56 PM
If we went with a single centralish point to which we all shipped, then had things rearranged and shipped out again from there, we're looking at $40-50 in shipping costs each. I think this should be manageable for most folks, as you've got just about about a year and a half to save up.

The above cost is assuming 12 750mL bottles shipped twice per person. So a dozen folks that make it to the finish line. There's 15 of us right now, and I don't like assuming we're going to have dropouts, so let's see what other options there are...

Shipping 12oz bottles seems much more reasonable in terms of cost. You can ship a 12-pack 1-way for about $13, making each person's shipping cost around $26.

I'm totally OK with either one of these options, but from what was said by BBBF, it sounds like we're going to need folks to be pretty seriously committed to this. I'll post in the group brew thread once I've chosen the final bottle format, and hopefully if it causes anyone to back out it's not as big a deal this early in the game.

I'm leaning waaaaaay toward 12oz beer bottles shipped to a central location, all due to cost at this point.

dacj501
08-23-2010, 01:59 PM
I am begging you not to go with 12 oz bottles...I want to share these with a few people, and really prefer the 750 ml bottles...the single shipments don't have to only be 12 bottles - I know that cases come that way, but a larger box could be packed...like I said, I'll gladly repackage and bubble wrap stuff if folks want to use me as a central distributor...

AToE
08-23-2010, 02:46 PM
If those prices are right then I see no problem with doing 750ml bottles. That said, I'm betting that prices are going to be at least double that for us Canadians (probably even more, I'm thinking more like double that amount EACH WAY), so we might have to figure something sneaky out like C.Girl was scheming.

Chevette Girl
08-23-2010, 02:50 PM
so we might have to figure something sneaky out like C.Girl was scheming.

Hey, if my scheming pans out you're welcome to piggyback...

akueck
08-23-2010, 03:09 PM
I personally like sending 12 oz bottles so we can all send 2 bottles to each participant. One you can open when you get it, one you can save for later. Or you can just open both at the same time. 2 12 oz bottles is almost the same volume as 1 750 ml. But if the general opinion is 750s, that's what I'll do.

For the shipping cost, don't forget that you need to pay twice to get it to a central location and back. So that $50 becomes $100. Still cheaper than individual shipping to 12 people. The lottery idea is ok if it comes to that, but I'm hoping it won't...mostly because I want to try all of them!

d.j.patterson
08-23-2010, 03:10 PM
I agree with dacj501 that a single 12 oz bottle is not enough. I have no problem bottling in 12 oz bottles, but I think at a minimum it should be two of those per person if not three. That way if something is outstanding there is still enough to share and if you don't particularly like something you can put some away and see if it improves with time.

The drawback to this is obviously that with the additional weight of the glass shipping costs now jump back up to $60/person if we do a centralized ship. So in short we need to ship at least a volume of liquid that would make this worth while and we are all tending to agree that centralized shipping makes the most sense.

Here is how we can address some of the drawbacks. If we end up with 15 participants, each person ships 17 or 18 (34 or 36 if 12 ozs) bottles to the central location with return shipping. The central location person then repackages the 15 different types into the original container and sends it back. That way if anyones entire shipment gets lost, broken, or held up at customs; the central person can pack up a new box with all of the flavors and ship to the unfortunate person. If not the central person gets some extra mead for going through the trouble of repackaging. Thoughts?

edit: I also don't really like the lottery idea

Chevette Girl
08-23-2010, 03:31 PM
The lottery idea is ok if it comes to that, but I'm hoping it won't...mostly because I want to try all of them!

I second that. Especially the Ole Mole and Chocolate Overlord... It will still work out cheaper than buying a dozen bottles of wine from the wine store, and probably much better than anything we could get for that price!

icedmetal
08-23-2010, 04:26 PM
I am begging you not to go with 12 oz bottles...I want to share these with a few people, and really prefer the 750 ml bottles...the single shipments don't have to only be 12 bottles - I know that cases come that way, but a larger box could be packed...like I said, I'll gladly repackage and bubble wrap stuff if folks want to use me as a central distributor...

dacj501, how do you feel about shipping out two 12oz bottles per participant? Double benefit here: you can drink half w/o worrying about the rest spoiling, and the glass weight is probably lower for a couple beer bottles vs. one wine bottle.

Re: $50 becoming $100, I'd already doubled the shipping cost I was using as a basis. I'm hoping nobody (other than perhaps the Canadian folks :() will end up spending more than $50 on shipping.

d.j.patterson
08-23-2010, 04:46 PM
The average weight for a bottle of wine is indeed about 2 lbs, however the average weight of a 12 pack of beer is between 18 and 21 lbs. So shipping a 30 pack would weigh 50 lbs and cost approx $70 one way. Shipping a 15 pack of wine bottles would weigh about 35 lbs with packaging and cost $55 one way.

At least this is what I can gather from wikianswers and UPS.

I agree that there is a certain appeal to being able to drink one and save one though. It is only a difference of $30 round-trip, so I am good either way.

Edit: Apparently the 2 lbs is wine weight and does not account for the bottle, cork, etc. So the actual weight of a bottle is closer to 3.5 lbs. So the added weight in my calculations makes shipping either one about the same.

icedmetal
08-23-2010, 05:13 PM
So, 15 750mL wine bottles at 3.33lbs each = ~50lbs.

50lbs from here to there, here being wherever, there being wherever, and numbers being approximate: $35.

So double that, $70.

Of course I'm down for this, but am still concerned this is more than folks realized they were signing up to spend. I know it's more than I initially realized. I'll post a note on the group brew thread citing an expected shipping cost of $80. Gas'll cost more by then...

dacj501
08-24-2010, 12:00 AM
If the consensus is multiple 12 oz bottles, I 'll deal (I don't have any, I only really bottle in 750s but I imagine I can get my hands on some). If it is truly cheaper for the 12s then that's cool...if it is about the same I'd still like the 750s.

-----

Just weighed things on my kitchen scale.

1 750 ml bottle of cherry melomel weighs 2 pounds 9.2 oz.
1 12 oz bottle of Saranac India Pale Ale (only 12 oz I've got) weighs 1 pound 4.2 oz.

This means that a 750ml weighs 2.04 times as much as a 12 oz, so 2 12s will be 8/10 of an oz (about 23 grams) lighter, but will also require additional packaging to keep twice as many bottles safe...

akueck
08-24-2010, 12:40 AM
I shipped a case of wine (12 750s) from CA to WI in April, it cost $50 (regular ground shipping). Recently shipping two 12 oz bottles from CA to UT or CO was about $13, and to NY about $15. I haven't tried it yet but I imagine shipping a case of wine bottles and a case of beer bottles would come out close to the same cost.

As far as bottle format goes, I'd be fine bottling in mixed sizes and giving 2 12s to one person and 1 750 to another...if our central shipper wants to deal with that headache. I mostly have beer bottles but over the next year or two I'm sure I can acquire some Martinelli's bottles (mine will all be crown capped).

I second sending the shipping organizer some extra bottles for the trouble. Could be some bottles of other batches too; I would probably send some beer or maybe even a bottle of lambic.

dacj501
08-24-2010, 12:43 AM
I second sending the shipping organizer some extra bottles for the trouble. Could be some bottles of other batches too; I would probably send some beer or maybe even a bottle of lambic.

Well shucks, now I really want to be the central organizer ;D

crowquill
08-24-2010, 07:34 AM
My two cents based on being in the lime group brew and some similar projects on other sites:

On the shipping method, there was a proposal in the lime mead exchange to use a central shipping point but a consensus never emerged and no one ever stepped up to volunteer.

A single shipping point presents a couple of significant problems: It's a lot of work for the point person. If that person drops out (and we had a lot of drop outs in the lime exchange including the organizer), we're back to having this discussion all over again. If a package disappears or gets run over by a truck or whatever someone's entire shipment is lost. I'm very sympathetic to the cost component but I'm also pretty risk averse and prefer shipping directly to other participants.

On bottle size, I'm okay with whatever gets decided. I like 750 ml bottles but can do 12 oz / 350 ml bottles if that's the decision.

dacj501
08-24-2010, 07:41 AM
crowquill, if I'm the central person I can just pick up yours :p

My batch is already started, I'm not dropping out, so unless my time on Earth runs out I'll be here to swap boxes around...

crowquill
08-24-2010, 07:48 AM
crowquill, if I'm the central person I can just pick up yours :p


I like that cost savings for me....

Just so I'm clear, I'm not saying I'm only doing the exchange if we are shipping directly to every other participant. I'm just raising my concerns so they can be considered in the final decision.

d.j.patterson
08-24-2010, 08:37 AM
Crowquill,

I think my solution of shipping 2 or 3 (4 or 6 for 12 oz) additional bottles to the centralized shipper takes care of your concerns (both the effort of that person and the risk of lost/broken shipments).

As for drop outs, I'm sure there will be a couple. So yes we will have to have this discussion again at shipping time at least to ensure we are shipping the appropriate number of bottles.

So the central question really is: Is everyone agreeable to centralized shipping, given the condition that it will require sending a few extra bottles to the central shipper?

We can discuss who that centralized shipper will be and how many participants make it to the end closer to shipping time.

Chevette Girl
08-24-2010, 09:41 AM
I'm still in so far but I'll have to look into shipping stuff across the border. It's possible we may have to cheat a little bit and use wine bottles with the original labels still on and pretend it's not homemade... I found a lot of conflicting info while trying to figure it out yesterday.

dacj501
08-24-2010, 09:43 AM
I'm still in so far but I'll have to look into shipping stuff across the border. It's possible we may have to cheat a little bit and use wine bottles with the original labels still on and pretend it's not homemade... I found a lot of conflicting info while trying to figure it out yesterday.

Contraband mead is even sweeter...

Chevette Girl
08-24-2010, 09:45 AM
Indeed. But I didn't REALLY want to add "bootlegger" to my resume! ;)

d.j.patterson
08-24-2010, 09:52 AM
Its not bootlegging. You would just be receiving an array of "yeast samples". ;)

crowquill
08-24-2010, 11:32 AM
Crowquill,

I think my solution of shipping 2 or 3 (4 or 6 for 12 oz) additional bottles to the centralized shipper takes care of your concerns (both the effort of that person and the risk of lost/broken shipments).


Not entirely. If I ship multiple packages of a single bottle each and one gets damaged, I've lost one bottle which is fairly easy to replace. If I ship one package of multiple bottles and the package gets lost or damaged, I've lost multiple bottles which is much more difficult to replace.

If people are comfortable with that level of risk, okay. But it is a risk that should be considered. Mind you, I'm not saying that it's a high risk. I'm not aware of any packages that were lost or damaged in the lime mead exchange. I also get a lot of wine shipped from wine.woot and I've never had a damaged or lost shipment there either (but they do this professionally).

With that said, I think I've made my point about what I see as the risks are and it's just a question if the group is comfortable with it or not.

dacj501
08-24-2010, 11:42 AM
If a number of shipments get lost or broken and later I post a thread with pictures of my new mead cellar, don't anyone jump to any conclusions...>:D

icedmetal
08-24-2010, 11:47 AM
I'll skip the conclusions, jump straight on a plane and pillage that cellar! :)

BBBF
08-24-2010, 12:30 PM
Well shucks, now I really want to be the central organizer ;D

The central organizer also has zero shipping costs.

dacj501
08-24-2010, 12:33 PM
The central organizer also has zero shipping costs.

In all honesty since I am on something of what is considered a fixed income I'd rather trade a little "sweat equity" for $$$ when it comes to shipping.

Medsen Fey
08-24-2010, 12:35 PM
One other issue with a centralized shipper is the timing issue. Someone may have a mead that is ready at 6 months, where someone else has a sack strength dry batch that takes 2 years to mature. It is hard to get 14 batches ready and bottled at the same time. If the central shipper is waiting for everyone to get it bottled and sent, it may require sitting on 13 cases of mead for a long time.

AToE
08-24-2010, 12:36 PM
Indeed. But I didn't REALLY want to add "bootlegger" to my resume! ;)

As D.J. said, these are yeast samples. They happen to be living in something tasty, yes, but that is a mere bonus. ;)

dacj501
08-24-2010, 12:39 PM
If folks weren't able to store their brew until some agreed upon date and then everyone ship at once (which would be optimal I think) there is room where I am planning to store this for many cases, although storing over a summer would be warm. Shouldn't be hard to get everything shipped to me between October and May though I'd guess...

akueck
08-24-2010, 01:24 PM
One other issue with a centralized shipper is the timing issue. Someone may have a mead that is ready at 6 months, where someone else has a sack strength dry batch that takes 2 years to mature. It is hard to get 14 batches ready and bottled at the same time. If the central shipper is waiting for everyone to get it bottled and sent, it may require sitting on 13 cases of mead for a long time.

I've had this thought as well. I plan on being out of the country next fall/winter too, so if my mead is not ready to be bottled by August 2011, it will sit in a carboy until at least March 2012 before I can get back to it. Some folks haven't started yet, so maybe that is ok.

I've also thought of dumping a box of mead onto a certain nearby person if my mead is bottled but we aren't shipping until I'm gone. ;)

Here's an out-of-the-box thought: anyone planning on going to IMF 2012? Assuming there is one, folks going could bring mead in their bags & others could ship to CO, do the swap there. Probably more holes in this idea than merit, but hey it could work.

d.j.patterson
08-24-2010, 02:21 PM
I agree that the centralized shipping is a logistical nightmare, but like I said we really have time to decide. Nothing will ship for at least year, so in the mean time put aside $4 a week.

Doesn't sound like much does it. In a year you've got $208. If these don't actually ship for 2 years, you could safely only put a $2/week and still have more than enough to make shipping costs. Consider it a long term investment in deliciousness.

wildoates
08-26-2010, 01:26 AM
Whatever we decide will be fine with me...I figure that however much it costs I'll be getting X bottles of mead that I could never get any other way!

I was just figuring on getting a bunch of single-bottle wine shippers and sending them out. But I'll go with whatever everyone decides to do!

Chevette Girl
08-26-2010, 01:40 AM
... put aside $4 a week.


$4/week really isn't much (unless you need it for staple food items, in which case it IS significant), I know people who spend more than this per day on coffee and snacks...

capoeirista13
08-26-2010, 10:09 AM
I think oats had a good point, it's a bunch of mead and such that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. And apparently it's better to spend your money on experiences rather than objects, but really this is giving us a lot of both. So maybe we should all be happy about spending so much, lol.

icedmetal
08-26-2010, 11:56 AM
Totally. Even considering some truly huge number like $200 for shipping, you're still looking at getting 15 bottles of mead variety for that cost. It's more than a fair trade :)